Raajje TV destroyed in arson attack

Additional reporting by JJ Robinson

A group of masked men armed with machetes, iron rods and petrol set fire to opposition aligned TV station Raajje TV shortly before 4:45am today, destroying its offices and control room as well as cameras, computer systems, broadcasting and transmission equipment.

The attack comes days after Raajje TV broadcast a report titled “Forum 15” detailing a plan, including arson, to destroy the station.

According to Raajje TV’s Head of News, Ibrahim ‘Asward’ Waheed, six men forcefully entered the seven story building after stabbing the security guard with a machete.

The guard has been hospitalised and is receiving care for two stab wounds to his back.

The men then damaged the elevator and cut off the building’s electricity. The group continued to break through a reinforced steel door to access station’s offices on the second floor of the building, before covering all equipment in the building with petrol and setting it alight.

A crew member from the airport ferry – docked opposite the building – said he witnessed a group of masked men leaving the building, and the bleeding security guard run to police officers on the corner of the block.

“We were docking at around 4:40 am when I saw about eight masked and gloved men leaving the building. They were wearing jeans and t-shirts. I saw the security guard run out, he had blood on his back,” he said.

“There were policemen on the corner, he ran to them and it looked like they did not help. I say this because he ran back to the building and then ran back to them when people gathered there started shouting,” he told Minivan News.

“At the time there was smoke coming from the offices. Many people there told me they called the police when they saw what was happening. But the police did not answer the phone. and only answered once the whole place was ablaze,” he said.

Station staff were unharmed, although the Maldives National Defense Forces’ (MNDF) Fire and Rescue Services said they had rescued one woman who was trapped on the terrace.

According to the MNDF, the fire was reported at 4:45 am and was put out at 7:00 am. A computer store on the ground floor was also completely destroyed in the blaze.

The station was destroyed on the same day as the Supreme Court’s much-anticipated ruling on whether to allow elections to go ahead.

Station had requested police protection

The station’s reporters had all gone home by 4:00am after providing live coverage of the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) ongoing protests against the indefinite suspension of elections by the country’s Supreme Court. Eyewitnesses had reported that the license plates of the arsonist’s motorbikes had been concealed, Asward said.

Raajje TV CEO Yamin Rasheed said the station had received reports at 8:00pm on the previous evening that it was in danger of being attacked that same evening, warnings which forwarded to police along with a written request for police protection.

“[The report] was very suspicious, and did not look like a joke. I wrote a letter to police asking for security and requested them to protect us from this attack. But there was no response,” he said.

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef confirmed to Minivan News this morning that police had received Yamin’s letter “and took action by patrolling the area.”

Yamin said Raajje TV has extensive CCTV footage of the arson attack: “It will be very easy to investigate. But we’ve handed it over in past attacks and nothing has happened,” he said.

“We will resume our service as soon as possible. Our directors are very courageous and are willing to try again,” he added.

Vice President of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) Mohamed Shaheeb has harshly condemned the torching of Raajje TV.

“This is a cowardly act that violates vital democratic principles of freedom of expression and press. This commission calls for an investigation and prosecution of those involved,” he said.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed said in a tweet that he strongly condemns the attack on Raajje TV, asking the “Raajje TV team not to worry and come back on air as soon as possible.”

Maldives Media Council President Mohamed Husham spoke out against lack of protection to the media in a tweet:  “We have not seen any results from the discussions to provide protection equally to all media.”

The Maldives Post Services has suspended services from its main office, which is located next door.

Since the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012, Raajje TV has faced increasing threats. In July 2012, the police and the President’s Office had said it would not cooperate with the TV station, blocking the station from President’s Office’s press conferences and police protection at protests.

The Civil Court has since ruled that the police and president’s office’s decisions  to ostracize the station were both unconstitutional.

In August 2012, critical cables in the station’s control room were cut, terminating the station’s broadcast. Several Raajje TV journalists have also reported arbitrary arrests and assaults.

In February 2013, men wielding iron rods on motorbikes assaulted Asward leaving him with near near-fatal head injuries.

According to Raajje TV the station had an audience of at least 95,000 people, one of the largest shares of Maldivian media. It reached India and Sri Lanka, and is also streamed online.


37 thoughts on “Raajje TV destroyed in arson attack”

  1. ....just the beginning of intimidation tactics to lure MDP into retaliating with violence. Ultimate scenario would be chaos in the country and a need for emergency rule as the only option. If it so happens, so is the final blow to democracy.

    To all loyal MDP supporters, it is important to remain calm, continue with demonstrations but do no harm to public property. The best and most powerful weapon you have is the vote!..it may tame a week, a month or a year but when the time comes...your vote decides the future!

  2. Looks like the threats by the PPM arent on a 'personal level' anymore.

  3. Inside job to divert attention of SC ruling about vote fraud and rigging in the last election.

  4. Police are the same in every country. 1 or 2 good ones for every thousand useless, uneducated, corrupt turds.

  5. PPM must be really desperate! The signs are not good for them and this is the only way they know to react. Bullies always behave this way. Ironically, this sort of thing will continue to destroy their own support base; but they are too thik to realise that!

  6. Arson done. Wide spreading of heroine next, followed by abductions and sexual assaults. Courtesy of yours truly, the defense forces and the government heads.

    Let the terror begin!

  7. Damages worth a million bucks apparently... Oh well, if it was easy for Kerafa Naseem to suddenly cough up 1m USD in cash for a house at the height of the dollar crisis, I guess I wudnt have to wait too long for my next dose of raajje tv...

  8. Maldivians, take control of your city. We take Maldives from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you... the people. Male' is yours. None shall interfere. Do as you please. Start by storming Maafushi, and freeing the oppressed! Step forward those who would serve. For an army will be raised. The powerful will be ripped from their decadent nests, and cast out into the cold world that we know and endure. Courts will be convened. Spoils will be enjoyed. Blood will be shed. The police will survive, as they learn to serve true justice. This great city... it will endure. Maldives will survive.

  9. This is a sad state of affairs... But don't despair Maldives..Democracy doesn't come easy, keep the peace and fight for a free and fair elections. Reminds me of Kenya when we started our journey to democracy, it was a tough struggle, 20 years later the journey continues.

  10. One of the worst crimes against the history of journalism......now we Maldivians must wear this banner of shame too. Thanks a lot, b********

  11. Calm down everyone, our professional police force is on it. Gaumatakaa Dheenataka (for country and religion), they will do all they can to protect and serve. Didn't you hear? When Raajje TV sent a letter yesterday requesting police assistance due to continuing threats, our police took timely action by arresting a 15year old boy for having sex with a 14yr old girl. What more can we ask for? I feel safe already

  12. Kekeke, this is what I have been talking about. Some Mdpians are dumb enough to believe this fakery.

    Just as the 9. 11 attacks. Rajje tv did some insurance work some time back. The tv is on air. Now. Speedier than flash the masked hero.
    Now they are showing the thugs torching up the place. The crew left the place at. 4.15 and kaboom, the place is lit like notthing compared.
    Now let's see the sanction loving, dr shaheed blame this on terrorists linked to al qaida from here.

    Ho hum, we muslims know how the world works

  13. Think these Cling-Ons (to power, what else) still need proof that they are mere fossils compared to the phoenix that will inevitably rise from these flames. This old regime mentality carriers are outsmarted in terms of technological knowledge and brainpower (there will be another TV station, somewhere, somehow and quite soon, in fact TV stations should spring up like mushrooms - its an opportunity, there's a gap in the market for sure, although its a long term bet, think pop up TV) All these brutes can resort to are the usual, tired, predictable tactics of organized attacks, the use of force and thuggery. Ye old thugs..keep going, keep digging...try turning the tide (i.e. not). Respond with lateral thinking not will violence, otherwise you are playing to their (only) strengths.

  14. Kerafaa Naseem shouldn't have embezzled money when he was in office. Shame on him! That money belonged to the Maumoon clan and No one should come between the Maumoon clan and their rightful illegal money.

  15. @shimy, yes its all very suspicious that a major media operation, constantly under threat from the police the government, and every other kind of thug in this country, should be Insured and that their staff actually leave the office premises at all. Such obvious strategy! Very convenient that they left BEFORE the pyromaniacs had their way with the station. Such a cunning plot.

    Please slap yourself unless you really are that stupid.

  16. Minivan you should put up the cctv footage that was aired.

    I agree with Shimy though. I bet this was done by the Jews to destroy the currently non-existent Islamic caliphate, because everything revolves around muslims (coincidentally the ones who live in the Maldives) and their fake problems. Thanks Obama!

  17. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his family knows nothing else other than terrorism,intimidation,lawlessness,thuggery and torture. Keep going old man! Your age says that you are at the precipice of life in this world and Allah's call to return is not far away and you have to face Almighty on everything that you are doing.May you be saved from Allah's wrath!

  18. Whoever did this should be found and punished.

    Now is not the time to point fingers and lay blame.

    This is the second time that a media outlet has had their equipment damaged. Because of the pro-MDP angle of this publication I'm sure they don't have the choice of mentioning this but VTV was also brutally attacked leaving its personnel terrified and premises damaged.

    Now another horrific attack on the media.

    Anyone can make their conclusions about whodunnit and why. I think the important thing is that we all agree on one point - the media should not have to suffer attacks such as these! It does not matter who the financier is or what angle the staff are forced to air their content from. We all must remember that the people working in there are human beings who have families and loved ones. The property stored inside cost millions of Rufiyaa. The content archived in those stations are the result of days of hard work put in by staff.

    The sad fact is, we are all prone to condemn attacks on stations and people we love but feel it is OK for an attack on those whom we hate. The fact that Minivan did not see fit to mention the attack on VTV in this article is proof of this fact.

    We all need to condemn the issue first and then the perpetrator second. That would make sure no one can repeat these attacks in the future.

  19. Rajje TV knew that this attack was coming and in fact send a letter to Maldives police service and my question is then

    1. Why did they left the place unguarded by themselves?
    2. How come they are able to have on air thier programs when all their equipments were burnt ?

  20. ofcourshh purplehue. Why should any hardworking, sincere, honest, peace-loving democratically-minded public servant have anything to do with any of that devil Mau's illegal oily money...

  21. @facts on Mon, 7th Oct 2013 3:56 PM

    "Rajje TV knew that this attack was coming and in fact send a letter to Maldives police service and my question is then
    1. Why did they left the place unguarded by themselves?"

    Your little brain cannot understand simple facts! Do all of us a favour and get an education will you?

  22. @tsk tsk on Mon, 7th Oct 2013 3:49 PM

    "We all need to condemn the issue first and then the perpetrator second. That would make sure no one can repeat these attacks in the future."

    (1) Yes, we need to remember the attack on VTV as well. What was the outcome of that? Did the police find the culprits?

    (2) This attack takes the "war" to the next level. Clearly, the criminals didn't care for life, never mind property. It was a miracle that there was only one person living upstairs and got rescued. This is attempted murder as well as arson.

    (3) All the signs show that this was designed and carried out from those at the very top of Maldivian society right now. The cavalier attitude of the police leaves no room for doubt.

    (4) There were policemen within the vicinity of the building, whilst all this was going on and they didn't notice anything unusual. Electricity was switched off, with a heavy metal door being taken down by at least six armed men. Were those outside deaf and blind? This was despite the request for their assistance the same night.

  23. @facts
    1) Yup, they should have waited and be killed. After all when the police is not offering you protection, it makes sense to wait for trouble mongers.
    2) The equipments burnt were not the only one in this world. Surely they can get more.

  24. @ facts you continue to keep your brain in the freezer. Rajje TV has been continuously and last night the threats were specific. They informed the police who are supposed to protect everyone in this country. The staff stayed till late early morning, the arson took place after they left, ands after an attack on their
    Bangladeshi guard. The station is back on air, cause there are democracy loving citizens in this country who owns cameras and such and are willing to lend it to RTv. And they are also back on air cause RTv is run by a bunch of brave journalists who work hard at getting the station up on air.

  25. The "problem" that @facts and his little friends tried to eliminate was clearly not eliminated and are now a bit puzzled by that.

    (1) You can kill and maim, but you cannot win a war of the minds. Do we need to expand on this at all? Just read any part of history from anywhere in the world.

    (2) Raajje TV will come back stronger than ever, that's for sure. The pen is mightier than the sword and all that.

    (3) You can eliminate a Nasheed, a Reeko or a Raajje TV, but the thoughts, the beliefs and conviction held by these people represent those of thousands of Maldivians. You cannot kill those thoughts and beliefs. For everyone you eliminate, hundreds will take their place. Once again, refer to history for examples.

  26. tsk tsk,

    It is tiring to read your accusations of "bias", just because your expected storyline isn't followed. All media outlets have a editorial line. That isn't bias, if you want to see biased reporting please watch VTV, DhiTV and yes even Raajje TV. Besides, your precious VTV story was reported on Minivan. The sentencing of the 7 men convicted of vandalism of VTV was also reported. We forgave Minivan for not reporting the harassment suffered by RTV, cables cut off etc within that story. Because that was about VTV not Raajje TV.

    In any case the VTV incident happened at a time of upheaval and lawlessness, even so compared to the attack on MNBC that day VTV didn't suffer as much. We are still waiting for the 7 year convictions for the perpetrators of the MNBC attack.

    If your neighbour falls into a manhole and dies, you would want the Minivan story to include the bit about your scraped knee, or else Minivan is biased to you.

    Please don't insult yourself. Such ridiculous statements within them, negates your reasonable well thought out comments.

  27. Rajjey , they did insurance yesterday also.

    This incident is most likely is done by themselves in order to get the attention diverted from the illegal gathering by MDP thugs .

  28. Elements inimical to Maldives's democracy are out to destabilise the country by resorting to violent means.The run-off to President's election is sought to be disturbed any how to stopMr Nasheed of MDP from winning.

  29. like another mentioned what was the outcome of the investigations o the fire that broke at VTV?

    come on give me a bro hug and we could kiss and cry like we did on Feb 7

  30. Hey Ann! Looks like your PPM spokesman was right on the mark. 😀

  31. And 'tsk tsk'

    "Whoever did this should be found and punished."

    And exactly how do you propose you do that? The courts, police and street gangs will work to protect their fellow soldiers.

    And when mob justice is carried out, you'll be the one screaming about rule of law here.


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