MDP MP Eva Abdulla raises concern over safety of MPs, journalist with IPU human rights committee

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Eva Abdulla met the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) human rights committee yesterday to raise concerns over the personal safety of MPs and journalists in the Maldives.

In a press release today, the main opposition party explained that the MP for Galolhu North met members of the committee during the IPU assembly in Geneva, Switzerland and highlighted security threats to opposition politicians, the media, and the community at large.

“[Eva] spoke about the lack of thorough investigations of these cases, perpetrators not facing trial, the failure of law enforcement in the face of atrocities committed out in the open, the failure of the People’s Majlis to look into the cases, and the creation of a culture of intimidation in the Maldives,” the press release stated.

“Eva also noted at the human rights committee the lack of any action taken so far regarding police brutality against MDP MPs on February 7 and 8, 2012 and later despite conclusive evidence.”

A hearing scheduled at the Criminal Court yesterday concerning the alleged assault of MDP Mariya Ahmed Didi on February 8 by a police officer was cancelled after the defendant failed to appear at court.

Referring to the cancellation of the hearing, Eva noted that “selective prosecution” of MDP MPs were ongoing at the Criminal Court.

A hearing of former MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor’s trial took place yesterday at the court, she noted.

Eva also accused the government and parliament of failing to investigate numerous death threats sent to MPs and failing to provide security.

The IPU has previously said that the government’s reaction to the death threats would be “a test of the country’s democratic credentials.”

On the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan, Eva told members of the committee that an independent investigation uncovered evidence suggesting that Rilwan was abducted.

Eva criticised the police’s failure to properly investigate the disappearance and contended that the case was not a high priority for the government.

She noted that parliamentary oversight committees have refused to look into the case.

She noted the arson attack against private broadcaster Raajje TV, the near-fatal stabbing of Raajje TV journalist Ibrahim Waheed ‘Asward’, the attack on Minivan News last month where a machete was buried in the building’s door, and death threats sent to journalists via text message from unlisted numbers.

Despite clear evidence in some cases, Eva noted that the government has not taken any action against the perpetrators to date.

While police arrested a 32-year-old suspect on charges of stealing Minivan News’ security camera – who was clearly identifiable on the CCTV footage – the Criminal Court released the suspect with conditions the following day.

MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News last month that death threats have become too commonplace to publicise each incident.

Following a rally in September, MDP MP Eva Abdulla received a text message threatening a suicide attack at the next MDP gathering. The message also threatened to “kill off” MDP members and vowed to “fight to the last drop of blood.”

Eva revealed on social media that she had received a text threatening to kill the children of MDP members.

“Don’t bring out your children on the streets these days. Stabbing season is about to begin. [We] will kill you,” the message read.

Eva noted that the same message was sent to many MDP members while the “govt looks on”.

Several journalist were also sent a text message warning them not to cover “the incidents happening in Malé now”, which included the torching of the MDP’s office on September 26.

“This is a war between the laadheenee [secular or irreligious] MDP mob and religious people. We advise the media not to come in the middle of this. We won’t hesitate to kill you,” read the threat.