Submitted by Bob Burton on
Supporters of the Maldives democracy movement protested outside the London office of the giant public relations firm Hill & Knowlton over its work for the oppressive regime of President Gayoom, who has been in power for 28 years. Friends of Maldives argue that "there have been few real democratic reforms since Hill and Knowlton began the contract with the Government of Maldives three years ago. Arbitrary detention, repression of independent media, and an increase in military expenditure remain pillars of support for the regime." Tim Fallon, a former adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is head of corporate affairs at Hill & Knowlton and has carriage of the Maldives account, claims the firm is "helping the smooth transition of the Maldives towards a free and fair democracy." The Maldives government is reported to be paying Hill & Knowlton approximately $20,000 a month for their work, which includes heading off a tourist boycott of the country.