International Federation of Journalists accepts MJA

The Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) has become an associate member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), giving its members international credibility and recognition as media professionals.

Founded in 1926, the IFJ is the world’s largest journalist organisation with 600,000 members in over 100 countries, and speaks for journalists within the United Nations system. The organisation itself is apolitical but nonetheless promotes human rights, democracy and pluralism. It vehemently condemns the use of media as propaganda or to promote intolerance and conflict.

President of the MJA Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir said the membership was a “significant achievement” for the rights of the press in the Maldives, and a goal the association had been striving towards for since April last year.

While the membership grants international recognition, ongoing education and development of journalism in the country was still needed, Hiriga explained.

“I know the Faculty of Education is running a course in journalism, but I’ve heard it’s mostly history – I haven’t heard of any experienced specialists teaching there,” he said.

Seeking assistance for the development of Maldivian journalism was one of the requests made by MJA members during a recent trip to the embassies in Colombo.

“We asked for support to help give us training and fund scholarships for Maldivian journalists, but most said they had a tight budget,” Hiriga said.

“They did say they were most concerned about the situation in the Maldives following the recent gang attacks [on media].”

Hiriga said the MJA had also expressed its concerns about indirect oppression of the media “behind the scenes.”

“There is press freedom [in the sense] that the government is so far not directly jailing journalists,” he noted.

In a letter to the MJA, the IFJ said it was pleased to accept the MJA’s membership “and work with it to address the challenges and pressures the Maldives media faces.”

Editor of daily newspaper Miadhu, Abdulla Latheef, said he did not think the IFJ membership would be beneficial for the Maldivian media at-large as “because half [the MJA’s] senior members are from Haveeru [the daily newspaper of which Hiriga is editor].”

Latheef said after gang attacks on television station DhiTV and a Haveeru printery staff member, “the MJA did not even hold a meeting or even check to see whether its members were fine.”

”I believe the organisation is trying to take over the media,” he said. ”I am a member of it, anyway.”


6 thoughts on “International Federation of Journalists accepts MJA”

  1. “I know the Faculty of Education is running a course in journalism, but I’ve heard it’s mostly history – I haven’t heard of any experienced specialists teaching there,” - I expect better quality quotes from the president of MJA and also that he is knowledgeable on this matter - not I've heard its mostly history, but rather, I KNOW...

    Hiriga has a enormous amount of power at the moment and I sincerely hope he uses it wisely - he plays an important role in one of the most widely read papers and also he is the president of MJA. Put the two together you can imagine.

    Sadly, the editorial quality of Haveeru and other papers is so poor that it has done less to our fledgeling democracy. Inaccurate reports are often published and cover pages are more than often used for political gains rather than for reporting purposes.

    Issues related to civil society are reported rarely, but, rather a large amount of coverage is given to the useless political debate - which is fine, as long as there is a balance.

  2. I wonder where was Hiriga when the previous regime arrested, harrased and persecuted the journalists. Of course, then also he was the editor of Haveeru Daily.

  3. The fact that MJA has become a member of IFJ is indeed very good news.

    By joining IFJ, the members of MJA is given international credibility and recognition as media "professionals".

    It is said here that the "organisation (IFJ) itself is apolitical but nonetheless promotes human rights, democracy and pluralism." and "It vehemently condemns the use of media as propaganda or to promote intolerance and conflict."

    I hope MJA leadership, and the editorial staff and leadership of various media understand what this means.

    I wonder who are these 80 members of MJA who are given recognition as 'professionals' by IFJ.

    I wonder whether they include security guards, drivers, typists, janitors, etc

    I would certainly like to see a list of its members, the work they do in their respective organizations and their qualification and experience as journalists.

    Hiriga has definitely played an instrumental role in setting up MJA and making it a member of IFJ.

    But the comments made by Hiriga on behalf of MJA indicates the shortsightedness, the limited capacity and the lack of knowledge and professionalism on Hiriga's part.

    I urge MJA members to replace its leadership with competent people.

    The diploma of journalism course offered at Faculty of Arts is a 2 year program. The subjects taught in the first year are English, Dhivehi, History and Enviromental Science.

    According to my knowledge, these are content courses to upgrade the knowledge level of journalists. This is a very important aspect of any professional course offered at any educational institution.

    The professional aspect of skills of journalism will be taught in the 2nd year.

    Recently, I heard on TV the Executive Manager of Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation Mr Ibrahim Khaleel speaking at a special function on the anniversary of TVM on 29th March.

    The leadership of Voice of Maldives and Television Maldives were gathered along with the MNBC Board members to sign their code of ethics which was broadcasted live.

    Khaleel said that TVM isn't the friend or foe of the government or its opposition. He said its role is to "watch over" what everybody does.

    The role of the media to watch over. But there are independent commissions like the HRCM to play the watchdog.

    I believe the first and foremost role of media is to INFORM the public.

    Currently, media in Maldives plays the most instrumental role to systematically misinform the public.

    What would be the expected outcome when 90 percent of airtime is concentrated on programs where you have a presenter and two political skunks pursue their individual cheap agendas with no self respect to what comes out through their mouth?

    I wonder what kind of national media corporation would employ its resources to broadcast a live show with their staff singing on stage to pre-recorded songs and its executive manager present it to the entire nation?

    Morever, the State Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture who I guess is responsible for the media component (judging from his presence whenever their is a media issue) was seen sitting with his spouse among the audience, clapping and enjoying the show.

    Maldives is a long way from its media becoming professional.

    Its my genuine wish that MJA joining IFJ would reap positive results sooner than later.

  4. Hiriga, this is too much. You hipocrat, you didn't do anything thing for press freedom during the previous regime. Get lost ***

  5. Hiriga is the Glen Beck of Maldives. a shock-jock with a right wing, anti-demoncracy agenda. Where was haveeru when gayoom was bashing everyone who criticised him? haveeru was cashing in and covering up. shame on them.

  6. Interesting.

    From what I have learnt from sources close to me, Hiriga himself does not publish articles critical of religious intolerance - and certainly showed no interest in promoting press freedom even now that press freedom is a constitutional right.

    I'd like to believe this is a positive step, but unfortunately, barring a few writers, the journalists in the Maldives are of extremely poor quality.


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