Expressing concern over progress in police’s search for missing Minivan News journalist, former President Mohamed Nasheed has called on President Abdulla Yameen to take charge of the investigation.
Evidence suggests Ahmed Rilwan was abducted at knifepoint outside his apartment in Hulhumalé on the early morning of August 8. Today is the 41st day since Rilwan disappeared.
“I call on President Abdulla Yameen to have the case of Rilwan’s disappearance investigated under his direct oversight,” Nasheed told the media after a visit to Rilwan’s family on Wednesday.
“Neither Rilwan’s family, nor we, can accept that the government is conducting a thorough investigation into this matter,” the opposition leader said.
“I believe that the Maldives Police and MNDF have sufficient capability to conduct an investigation like this. They have the experience, and the skill support. And yet, as I see it, they are not conducting an acceptable level of investigation in this case.”
Rilwan’s disappearance has caused great distress to his family, Nasheed said.
“Over 40 days has passed since Rilwan was last seen, and there are certain rituals that we must complete even in the religious regard as we are Muslims. Rilwan’s mother is deeply concerned about not getting the chance to do that,” he said.
Increase in violent crime
Rilwan’s disappearance is the most crucial problem facing the Maldives now, he said and called on civil society organisations, political parties, media outlets, the government, the justice sector and the whole state to put in a more concerted effort to find Rilwan.
“Abductions are on its way to becoming commonplace. Knife attacks are increasing day after day. Dr Afrasheem was murdered. Before that, Hilath Rasheed was attacked. We do not know the truth behind these and many other such attacks,” Nasheed continued.
Police failure to solve multiple cases of violent crime and murder leads to the perception that politicians are involved in violent crimes, Nasheed said.
“As I see it, the Maldives is getting a bad name in the international community due to such crimes, and it will affect the tourism sector in future. If we don’t take proper action immediately, our situation will drastically deteriorate in the coming days,” he said.
“None of us will cease our efforts to find Rilwan. And I personally will do all possible to assist their efforts,” he said.
Rilwan’s brother Moosa Rilwan said Nasheed’s visit had given the family additional strength.
“During his visit, President Nasheed spent a lot of time listening to the concerns that our parents have. His concerned has given us more strength. We are now even more determined to keep working until we get answers,” he told Minivan News.
Rilwan’s family and friends have announced plans to hold a “Suvaalu March” (Question March) on Friday, September 19, to call attention to police failure to answer key questions regarding Rilwan’s disappearance.
“We call on everyone to join us in our efforts. It is important for every individual in our society to stand up against the violence and injustice now rampant in our community,” Moosa Rilwan said.
Atleast 31 people have been killed in the Maldives since 2007. Three were killed in August alone.
Rilwan’s friend and member of the march organizing team, Yameen Rasheed, said the aim of the walk was to hold the police accountable over failures in the investigation.
“As citizens sharing this same community, we have to hold the state accountable,” Yameen said.
While the march focuses on shortcomings in the investigation to find Rilwan, it will also raise concern over increase in violent crimes in the Maldives and police’s failure to provide security for citizens, he added.