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Drawings in the sand - keeping the political debate alive in the Maldives

In May 2012, South Asia Wired looked at how the world's largest democraccy is approaching its dismal record on human rights, and hear how a leading Maldivian artist uses sand as a medium of protest.

 

Dalit discrimination
The rights of India's lowest castes - the Dalits - have been part of the national agenda since Independence.  Despite a raft of laws and parliamentary resolutions the situation on the ground remains as dismal as it has been for years, according to Julie de Rivero from Human Rights Watch. 

The United Nations is about to publish a periodic review of human rights and according to de Rivero, that makes it the perfect moment to act against India.
 

Click here to listen to the show.

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Beauty and politics in sand

Maldivian artist Afzal Shaafiu Hasan has brought his island country's traditions to all his art - his paintings, sketches, and even to the national postage stamps he's designed.  But its his most recent medium that's made him a sensation.  It seems only fitting that he should use sand - the fine white sand of the famous  tourist resorts that most people know the Maldives from - to express the beauty and pain surrounding his people.

Sand activist
When the democratically elected president Nasheed was ousted during a Coup on the 7th of February, people took to the streets protesting against the new regime. The images of the police lashing out at the protesters are engraved on the collective memory of Maldivians though largely unknown to the rest of the world.

The slide show below is an illustration of the captivating performance art that Hasan creates with nothing more than light, shadows and sand, conjuring an eerily lifelike rendition of the violence that wracked his people during the coup.  He named the piece Baton Day.

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011 Dutch government’s decided to cut funding and shift RNW in 2013 from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW’s current activities can be found at http://www.rnw.org/about-rnw