The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has refuted claims made by the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) last week accusing the ruling party of masterminding recent attacks on the media.
Four gang members stormed the studios of television station DhiTV last week, and hours later an employee of newspaper Haveeru was left in a critical condition after he was stabbed outside the building.
In an interview with DhiTV the following day, DRP vice president and spokesperson Ibrahim Shareef said he believed the MDP was behind the attacks on media, adding that he does “not believe the MDP is trying to bring press freedom to the country,.”
DRP vice president and MP Ahmed Ilham did not say he blamed the MDP for the attacks, but he critcised the government “for trying to kill the media in many [other] ways.”
The government had cut points from the broadcasting license of radio station DhiFM “to try and threaten them,” he said.
Police criticism of DhiFM for its coverage of a protest outside Muleaage in January led to the station having five points deducted. Together with police attempts at the time to stop the broadcast, the incident was treated as attack on press freedom by the station and the Maldives Journalists’ Association (MJA).
Three members of the MJA have meanwhile flown to Colombo with the intention of lobbying diplomats and journalists, “seeking international support for press freedom in the Maldives.”
MJA President Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir said that “President Nasheed’s words promoting press freedom are not being matched by action. Our goal is to seek international pressure so that the President will act on his promises.”
Under the Maldives’ current broadcasting legislation, points are deducted for any breaches of the broadcasting code of conduct, up to a maximum of 100, as decided by a committee appointed by the Department of Information.
Spokesperson for MDP Ahmed Haleem said the party had “sacrificed much” to bring press freedom to the Maldives and regretted DRP’s accusations that the party was somehow responsible for the attacks on the media.
”They don’t know what to talk about now, so they are spreading these untrue stories,” Haleem said.
Haleem claimed that Ilham was “very new to politics” and ”really does not know the way things go.”