International concern over missing journalist grows while threats continue

Politicians and journalists have continued to receive death threats as international groups express concern regarding the disappearance of journalist Ahmed Rilwan 12 days ago.

“We call upon all parties to refrain from threatening media activists for performing their professional duties,” read a statement released by the Office for the United Nations Commissioner of Human Rights yesterday.

The statement also expressed concern at Rilwan’s disappearance while hoping for a prompt resolution to police investigations.

“We also urge the relevant authorities to address any threats and intimidation directed at journalists and other civil society activists and to do their utmost to ensure that they are able to operate without fear for their safety.”

Meanwhile, a text message sent to Minivan 97 journalist Aishath Aniya at 12.20pm today, from a sender identified as ‘ISIS’, read as follows:

“You are next on our hit list. Be careful when you walk alone. #fuckmoyameehaa.”

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mariya Didi also reported a threat, apparently received from the same sender at 12:25pm warning, “we will not hesitate to disappear you. Have you forgotten you have a small daughter?”

Both politicians and journalists reported receiving threats earlier this month, with Rilwan himself reporting on the latter threats.

Representatives of Minivan News in Colombo met today with diplomats representing Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Switzerland and representatives from the EU delegation regarding Rilwan’s disappearance.

Growing concern

Evidence obtained by Minivan News strongly suggests Rilwan, known as @moyameehaa on Twitter, may have been abducted. Security experts have suggested he was targetted as a result of his activities as a journalist and micro-blogger.

The Home Ministry has updated local media today on the progress of the investigation, with Home Minister Umar Naseer assuring that 40 of the country’s best officers were working on the case.

Yesterday also saw further statements on Rilwan’s case from the International Federation for Journalists (IFJ) with the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The IFJ and SAMSN noted that Rilwan’s disappearance had come “at a time of increased tension in the Maldives with a spike in threats against the media by criminal gangs and religious extremists in recent weeks.”

A number of abductions and attacks targeting perceived secularists and homosexuals were reported prior to the Ramadan period, with a rise in gang violence following the Eid holidays.

“The disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan has now become a matter of grave concern as his whereabouts have not been known for 11 days. We urge the Maldivian government and concerned agencies to do everything possible to find him,” read the joint statement.

The IFJ and SAMSN comprise all major journalists’ trade unions and press freedom organisations in South Asia.

“Critical time has been lost in the search for Ahmed and if the government hopes to ensure journalists can continue in their duties to report freely and without fear in the Maldives.”

“For the sake of Ahmed’s family and media freedom, the circumstances of his disappearance must be determined as a matter of urgency and if there has been misadventure or deliberate intervention, then every effort must be put to locate those responsible,” the statement continued.

Additionally, the New York-based CPJ noted that Rilwan had been particularly critical of local politicians and Islamists, urging a thorough investigation.

“We are deeply concerned for the well-being of our colleague Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney.

“We urge the authorities to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to find him.”

Reporters Without Borders have already lent their voice to calls for an expedited search for the 28-year-old human rights advocate.


6 thoughts on “International concern over missing journalist grows while threats continue”

  1. This unfortunate event is manna for MDP propaganda. They are taking full advantage of publicity to this issue to tarnish the image of the country and discredit the sitting government. I used to be a firm supporter of MDP back in the day when they were and inclusive progressive intelligent party. Still remember the dawn of the vote counting day that unseated Maumoon and made Anni president. Since then die hard athiests and seculars have hijacked the party and nothing good out comes from them either of policy or rhetoric.

  2. I'm glad you quit MDP, "dhivehisitee". After all, whoever consider anyone opposed to child prostitution, slavery and injustice to be 'atheists' don't really belong in MDP.

    Now then, if this is really propaganda, then Rilwan shouldn't have been kidnapped. Go ahead. Show us where he is now. Prove us wrong. 😛

  3. Fat lot of good it did the MDP to be so inclusive. Look at them - stabbed in the back by the so-called 'dheenee' adhaalath paateys after the people of MDP suffered so much to give them the right to speak without the NSS beating the crap out of them.

    It's better for MDP to be alone - for solitude is better than bad company.

  4. MDP propaganda aside, can anyone bring up a similar case of disappearance, especially of someone who was as outspoken as the person in question? Of course, the murder of the late Dr Afrasheem was another major incident in our recent violent history.

    MDP propaganda isn't the issue here. There comes a time when events go over a tipping point. That's how Gayyoom lost power in 2008 as well, when another event triggered a chain reaction.

    What has happened should deeply worry every single citizen of this country. This isn't time to score political points. We should be focussing on making us and our families safe. Once again, it comes down to tolerance. Our country will not be safe again, until we learn the meaning of dissent and tolerance.

  5. Real Muslims are the primary targets of these extremists. Real Muslims who stand for peace, tolerance and solidarity. Exactly the opposite values of the extremists.

    There should be a harsh punishment upon extremism and violence, for the safety of the good people, Muslim or not.

  6. @maldivian. If you look a sampling of criminals in Maldives, 80% of those criminal will be MDP members ?

    Where do your expansion of protecting judiciary come from then ? All what Nasheed is trying to empower his thugs and criminal to create a situation where our country will not be able to have a peaceful time.

    Even MDP is being hijacked by Nasheed and he does not allow any credible leader to come up and who ever he sees as threat to his leaderships get kicked out.

    Nasheed does not know what a democracy is and his put this Tag on his back to collect money from people for his own benefit .


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