Comment: #findmoyaameehaa

This article first appeared on Dhivehi Sitee. Republished with permission.

Thursday night, two weeks ago, was the last time anyone saw Ahmed Rizwan Abdulla, 28-year-old journalist, blogger, human rights advocate and all-round great person.

A lot—yet nothing—has happened since Rizwan was reported missing to the Maldives Police Service (MPS) on 13 August.

On 15 August Rizwan’s family and friends organised a search of Hulhumalé, the island neighbouring Male’ on which Rizwan lives on his own. Starting with the desolate, deserted areas—-of which there are many—-the search party combed the whole island. It was in vain.

On 16 August Rizwan’s friends and colleagues, who obtained CCTV footage from the Malé-Hulhumalé ferry terminal from the night he was last seen, identified him on camera buying a ticket and going into the waiting area to board the 1:00 a.m. ferry on 8 August. This footage has since been made public. For the next twenty minutes or so—-the amount of time it takes for the ferry to reach Hulhumalé—-Rizwan was on Twitter. Between 1:02 a.m. he sent out 11 (mostly re-) Tweets, beginning with this one, which said he had just boarded the ferry:

His last Tweet was at 1:17 a.m three minutes before the ferry would have reached Hulhumalé.  According to Rizwan’s employer, Minivan News, he sent a Viber message at 1:42 a.m. The newspaper further reports that according to Rizwan’s telephone service provider that his mobile phone was last used at 2:36 a.m. at a location in Male’. Since then, nothing.

There was a shocking development to the story a few days after the search for Rizwan began. On the night he was last seen, two witnesses saw a man being abducted from outside Rizwan’s apartment around 2:00 a.m. Minivan News, which withheld the information until it was made public by other news outlets, published details of the abduction on 18 August. The witnesses heard screaming and saw the captive, held at knife point by a tall thin man, being bundled into a red car which drove away at speed. The witnesses contacted the police immediately. They also recovered a knife from the scene. The police took a statement and confiscated the knife.

And that was that.

It is mind-boggling that there were no searches in Hulhumalé after eye-witness reports of an abduction, no sealing off of exits to and from the island, no investigation in and around the area of the abduction to at least ascertain who had been bundled into the car. If the police had done any of this, Rizwan’s family would have been aware of his disappearance so much sooner. Two weeks on, the police still don’t seem to have managed to locate the red car—-this on a 700 hectare island with the total number of cars totalling around fifty, if that.

Outrage at police ‘incompetence’ has grown steadily as days turn into weeks without news of Rizwan’s whereabouts. MPS’ reaction to the criticism has been petulant, like an offended prima donna. It issued a long statement demanding that the public stop criticising police given how brilliant they obviously are; and, unbelievably, proceeded to hold a press conference about Rizwan to which all media outlets bar his own Minivan News was invited.

Speculation that MPS does not want Rizwan found is becoming fact as time passes with no leads. How incompetent does a force have to be to remain clueless about how a person was abducted from a small island? How many red cars can be hidden on such a small piece of land, surrounded by the sea? How difficult would it be to locate the individuals caught on CCTV following Rizwan at the ferry terminal in Male’? It is common knowledge that life in Male’ is now governed by an ‘unholy alliance’ of ‘born-again’ fanatically ‘religious’ gangsters and thugs controlled by politicians and fundamentalists.

Whatever the police is driven by—fear, complicity, support—it is certain the government shares its ‘could not care less’ attitude. President Yameen’s callous response on 20 August to news of Rizwan’s disappearance confirmed this: ‘I cannot comment on anything and everything that happens, can I? The police are probably looking into it.’

It is as if the disappearance of a young man, a journalist and well-known human rights advocate—the first incident of its kind in the Maldives—is as routine as a mislaid shopping list. The President, who campaigned as saviour of the youth population, had not a word to say about the abduction and disappearance a young man of vast potential. Yameen chose, instead, to wax lyrical on his success at begging in China, having procured a 100 million US dollars in aid money for building a bridge between Malé and Hulhumalé, the island where Rizwan is feared to have been abducted from.

Who wants a bridge to an island that is so unsafe? An island where women are raped in broad daylight and young men disappear without a trace? Where gangsters and violent extremists rule, where the police turn a blind eye to crime and where the streets have no lights?

It is quite extraordinary that a president of a country sees no need to express concern for a citizen whose sudden disappearance has led to statements from international bodies ranging from the UN Human Rights Commissionerto media associations such as Reporters Without Borders, CPJIFJ and South Asia Media Solidarity Network as well as news outlets and human rights advocates in the region and across the world.

In some of this week’s news coverage, Rizwan’s name is on top of the world’s missing journalists’ list. According to Minivan News, many foreign diplomats based in Colombo have made the time to listen to its concerns about Rizwan’s abduction.

Perhaps prompted by diplomatic concern, over a week after Rizwan’s disappearance became public knowledge, the Maldives Foreign Ministry finally issued a hastily put together statement yesterday, full of factual and other types of mistakes, expressing a perfunctory concern hard to accept as sincere.

While the politicians, the gangsters and the religious fanatics with their support of Jihad, beheadings and other forms of killing trip over each other to ignore, laugh about, cover-up and prevent knowledge of what has happened to Rizwan, friends, family, and admirers of his deep humanity, are unflagging in their hopes and efforts to find him safe and sound.

It is on social media, where he is known as Moyameeha, that Rizwan has made his widest impact. The Maldivian Twitter community is especially bereft without his presence. It is not surprising. The off-line Maldivian society has been largely taken over by gangs, zealots and bigots. There is no safe place for people like Rizwan—with bold ideas, open minds and creativity—to come together in real life. So they gather on Twitter—the most free of modern media platforms—exchange thoughts, discuss politics, make poetry and music, argue, joke, laugh, and cry, become friends and form the kind of free, liberal and tolerant public sphere they cannot have off-line. Rizwan is a shining star of that community, one of its well-liked and giving members. The community wants him back.

Close friends have set-up a website,, where everything that is officially  said and done in relation to Rizwan’s disappearance is gathered in one place. It also counts every passing second since he went missing. Friends have also set up Facebook pages dedicated to finding Rizwan while existing Facebook pages that support him have created a repository of online tributes:

Bloggers, who look up to him as one of the first to make an impact in the sphere, have been paying homage, re-finding and sharing some of his most moving posts. Rizwan’s friends discuss his poetry, his love of music (and obsession with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan), his enthusiasm for Dhivehi language, folklore and history, and most of all his never-ending good nature and empathy. Even the deeply divided and highly politicised journalistic community appears to be waking from a deep slumber, and putting their differences aside to demand that efforts to find Rizwan be stepped up.

Over the past few years the Maldives Police Service has become highly adept at being ‘incompetent’, at being ‘unable’ to solve the crimes they don’t want solved while putting all their efforts into hunting down bootleggers, cannabis smokers and petty criminals. If they catch any major offenders, the corrupt judiciary lets them go; so why bother? This being police ‘best practice’, a majority of the Maldivian population now choose to ‘forget’ unsolved crimes, stop asking questions, and carry on as nothing happened.

Not this time. Rizwan’s family, friends, supporters and like-minded journalists are not going to stop asking questions and looking for answers. Because if they do, it is the last nail in the coffin of Rizwan’s vision—shared by those looking for him—of a tolerant Maldivian society in which people are free to think, embrace diversity and difference, be creative, live safely and have the right to peace and happiness.


10 thoughts on “Comment: #findmoyaameehaa”

  1. Consider the law of cause and effect in perceiving the motives behind the actors involved in this incident.

    Journalist - a lesser known journalist/blogger with a cause to advocate for human rights. Who affects from his actions? From a general stand point, his actions does not affect anyone enough to abduct and possibly kill him.

    Police - responsible authority to solve crimes in the Maldives - having received reports of an abduction, a knife as evidence, eye witness reports of red car in Hulhumale', remained largely silent and inactive to date to find the perpetrators even when the new of missing journalist went public.

    Government - the people at the top of the government distanced themselves from this incident stating that it is not their place to politicise this incident, but clearly, when they too know public is tensed and concerned about the way its agencies are handling perhaps the most public abduction case in recent history.

    It is puzzling to understand what is the cause, and effect at an individual level. But at a very general level, the affect of all this is that a very broad overshadowing sense of fear has enveloped the nation when everyone now realises that if you advocate a person maybe abducted and the police is not professional enough to help the individual. And that the government too turns a blind eye or deals with the matter loosely.

    This impacts the journalists in this nation. and at the back of their minds, they will wonder twice about writing something provocative for the sake of defending themselves from a similar fate. If a lesser known journalist like Rizwan can disappear, how about the ones who are well-known and high profiled?

    This all points to a suspicion too among general public that this government is behind if not, is not really serious enough to catch the perpetrators who encourage the setting of a state of fear amongst the general public.

    I for one point my middle finger to the economy and SEZ bill this government is trying to do for its economy. First make us guilt free and fear free before you do anything else.

  2. No one should be harmed for expressing their opinion. I wish for him to be found safe and sound.

    I have been reading about this news everyday and I noticed that a point is missing in these articles.

    According to his family, Rilwan previously belonged to a religious extremist group called dot group. But years ago he opposed the views of the group and severed connections with them. Since then he received threats from his former group calling him an atheist.

    I think police should look into this. Find the members of this so called dot group and interrogate them as well.

  3. I agree with one of the other commentators.

    Why isn't Minivan or any media digging into his past about his affiliation with the radical extremist group? If he was affiliated with them and turned his back on them, that could be a key factor in his disappearance. Especially if we turned completely opposite and became a journalist. They may have thought he was on an undercover mission for editorial purposes.

  4. Good assessment of previous comment, because its isolation the country is infested with different types of intolerant so called radical fundamentalist tugs without human respect. Young people in Maldives are easy manipulated as they are so isolated. You can find something about the dot com group in J.Salims Blog
    look at

  5. Rather, our country seems to be infested with different types of intolerant radical fundamentalist atheists and zionists and what not. During the last two israeli wars against Gaza, the local kuffar went leaps and bound praising the israeli aggression even when the godless koreans and Chinese were burning the Israeli flags. By comparison the muslims who are courageous enough to defend islam are few and far between

  6. Anyone saw pro-israeli rallies around here? Anyone?

    Nope... guess dhivehisitee's seeing things again. Damn. Whatever the regime must be pumping into his head must be one hell of a drug, huh?

  7. To the people who believe that Rilwan actually belonged to the so called 'Dot Group", you are all very wrong,he was not one of them,he used to be a very religious person, but not to the extent that it is reffered to as an extremist as by the dots, however, he did have extremist friends and contacts, doesn't necessarily mean he is amongst them, when he was at his peak as a religious person, his closest mates were a group of funny yet religious group who works in a fothi fihara called Çolor Tex', I can assure you that he wasn't one of the dots, and if he were to receive any threats as what has happened to him today, it shouldn't be today, but back in around 2007, 8, 9 when he started questioning their ideology.

  8. @Maldivian
    I have been following the local kuffar for quite sometime and I can tell that there cannot be much written by local kuffar in their various blogs and social media that have escaped me! I can name them by whatever name they use as avatars and i have seen most of their real pics even. The point stands. Our local kuffar in their hatred to islam are in a league of their own when it comes to attacking islam. The foreign kuffar probably have lived in mixed societies so they are actually more balanced than the hotheaded kaafir paateys we have here.

  9. @dhivehisitee

    Agreed. I am more concerned about the things you mention than a former activists who may or may not have been abducted. We should focus on the facts in the world, the fact is that Israel is still engaging in genocide and this has not been addressed. These non-humans are the people who infest the islands, not so called extremist Muslims.

  10. @dhivehisitee: You still haven't proved that there was a pro-israeli rally. So you can pull your strawmen all you want.

    It proves nothing.

    PS: We also know that to become a kafir in your own opinion involves speaking against baby rapers, drug dealers and corrupt clergy.


Comments are closed.