The Jumhooree Party (JP) has alleged that politicians are behind death threats sent to the party’s leader Gasim Ibrahim.
“We will take your life if you keep talking in the media,” and “We will wipe you and your family from Malé,” read the threats sent via text message to the business tycoon last week.
“The death threats are being issued to Honourable Gasim Ibrahim by those displeased or threatened by his efforts in the People’s Majlis, the media, and various other arenas for the benefit and wellbeing of the Maldivian people, in a planned attempt to intimidate him and push him back politically with politicians behind these threats,” the JP contended in a press statement yesterday (August 17).
The party expressed concern with the persistent threats and noted that Article 29 of the Constitution guarantees the “freedom to acquire and impart knowledge, information and learning.”
“And we note that these threatening messages are being sent at a time when the government and the ruling party have been directly targeting Honourable Gasim Ibrahim’s businesses, carrying out actions to hinder them and taking measures that are not being taken against other [businesses],” the press release stated.
Last week, the government terminated an agreement with Gasim’s Villa Air to manage and develop the Kaadehdhoo regional airport.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture meanwhile decided not to renew the lease of Laamu Baresdhoo, an uninhabited island leased to Gasim’s Villa company for agriculture.
Moreover, the fisheries ministry gave a 30-day notice to reclaim a plot of land in Gaaf Dhaal Hoadehdhoo leased to Gasim’s Horizons Fisheries.
President Abdulla Yameen has, however, denied “impeding” Gasim’s businesses, insisting that the decisions were made due to breach of contract.
In a letter to Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed informing the authorities of the threats, Gasim reportedly revealed that the owners of the numbers from which the messages were sent has denied sending any texts.
Gasim suggested that the text messages could have been sent through the internet using a phone number duplicating software.
The business tycoon appealed for police to investigate the threats with “utmost seriousness.”
Following similar threats sent in June, Gasim objected to lack of security provided to MPs despite the death threats he received, noting that he has arranged for private bodyguards.
Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Spokesperson Major Hussain Ali told Minivan News today that “discussions” were currently taking place between the MNDF and the parliament secretariat regarding security arrangements for MPs.
Asked if MPs would have bodyguards from MNDF, the spokesperson suggested seeking the information from the People’s Majlis secretariat.
A media official at the secretariat, however, was unaware either of the present security arrangements or whether MPs had MNDF bodyguards.
Earlier this month, death threats were sent via text message from an unlisted number to six opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs.
While one message threatened to kill MPs who “behave inappropriately,” the second stated that it would not be “a sin to kill those who challenge the word of Allah and call for religious freedom.”
“Afrasheem Ali was an example before your eyes,” it read, referring to the murdered moderate scholar and Progressive Party of Maldives MP.
Police confirmed at the time that the threats were being investigated but declined to reveal further details.
Parliament Secretary General Ahmed Mohamed told local media that MNDF were formally asked to provide security for MPs after a number of lawmakers made requests following the swearing-in of the 18th parliament.
MNDF had not responded as of August 3, he said. In July, Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim assured that security would be provided to MPs and that recommendations for security provisions in the parliamentary rules – currently under review – had been shared with the speaker.
Article 105(b) of the Constitution states, “The security services of the state shall ensure the protection and safety of all members of the People’s Majlis.”
Meanwhile, a number of journalists have also received death threats in recent weeks, warning them against reporting on gang violence in the wake of a spate of stabbings in the capital.
An IT expert with experience in the telecommunications field explained to Minivan News at the time that it would be difficult to identify the culprit if the text messages were sent through an online mass text message service.
“Unless it came from a local IP address it would be almost impossible to trace it back. If they used anonymous proxy servers to send the texts it could be traced back to the SMS gateway, but no further,” he said.