Raajje TV journalist in critical condition after attack

A reporter for private broadcaster Raajje TV is in a critical condition after he was badly beaten in Male’ early this morning.

Ibrahim ‘Aswad’ Waheed, a senior reporter for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)-aligned television station, was attacked with an iron bar while riding on a motorcycle near the  artificial beach area.

The attack left him unconscious, and he has been transferred to a hospital in Sri Lanka for treatment.

Speaking by phone from Sri Lanka, Raajje TV Chairman Akram Kamaaluddin said Aswad’s condition had not improved at time of press.

“I am at the hospital in ICU with him right now. He is very critical but I can’t say anything else right now,” he said.  “We don’t know what will happen at present.”

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that no arrests had so far been made in connection with the attack and that it was too early to attribute a motivation to the incident. Investigations were ongoing, he said.

Police also confirmed that two reporters working for state broadcaster Television Maldives (TWM) were also hospitalised after they were hit by projectiles containing some kind of irritant, which local media reported to be paint thinner. The TVM reporters – identified as Aishath Leeza and Journalist Aminath Saanee – were later discharged, according to police.

“TVM reporters were also attacked last night; we believe by a protester or group of protesters,” Sub-Inspector Haneef said.

“We seriously condemn the two incidents and are trying to locate the suspects with all our means. We will be using all evidence we can get.”

An estimated 1000 to 1500 protesters were witnessed by Minivan News gathered on Sosun Magu in Male’ during Friday night’s protests. The demonstrations appeared calmer than in than recent nights, with music and flag waving, and minimal police presence.

A car belonging to Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed was also set alight.

Media suppression

The attacks on the journalists were condemned by the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) as an attempt to try and suppress media in the country.

Expressing concern today, MJA President  Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir called for greater protection of journalists by police, while also requesting local media act more professionally and stop “spreading hatred”.

Zahir claimed that with local media being very much polarised along political lines, the MJA was concerned that “targeted” attacks on reporters such as those witnessed last night would potentially scare away futures generations of journalists.

“We have called on police to investigate these cases. What we know is that a Raajje TV  reporter was on a bike when he was attacked with a metal bar,” he said.

Zahir would not speculate as to the motivation behind Aswad’s attack, but be claimed the two TVM journalists were attacked by anti-government demonstrators.

Media should try to keep behind police lines during demonstrations in order to better protect themselves from potentially coming under attack, he suggested.

“We call on police to give protection [to journalists], but they haven’t picked out one suspect [concerning the attacks],” he said. “I don’t know why they haven’t arrested anyone.”

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik condemned the attacks on the journalists via his official Twitter account.

“Strongly condemn attacks on journalists. No justification for brutal acts of terror,” he wrote on the social media site.

In a press release, the opposition MDP condemned the attacks against both the Raaje TV and TVM reporters, calling for a thorough investigation to determine the perpetrators “ regardless of their political affiliation”.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s spokesperson, MP Mariya Didi said the attacks affected “everyone who believes in democracy and media freedom.”

“Since last year’s coup, journalists have been repeatedly threatened, harassed and, in some instances, violently attacked by the police and by criminals. However, the authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the problem,” she stated.

“Since the unlawful transfer of power there has been a sharp increase in violent crimes. But the police continues to preoccupy themselves with politically motivated arrests, rather than investigating these violent crimes. Over 800 MDP supporters have been arrested in the past year. Yet, murderers, drug traffickers and gangsters are left to roam freely,” she said.

“Months have passed since brutal murder of the MP Dr Afrasheem Ali and fatal attack on liberal blogger Hillath Rasheed, without perpetrators being found. Impunity enjoyed by the security forces is creating a culture of crime that is deeply concerning,” she added.

Earlier in the evening, before the attack on Ibrahim ‘Aswad’ Waheed, the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) posted a message on a Facebook page affiliated to the party calling reports on Raajje TV that it had called at a rally for MDP protesters to be killed as “completely false”.

The post warned that PPM “might have to come out against Raajje TV.”

PPM MP and Spokesperson Ahmed Mahlouf and potential presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen were not responding to calls at time of press.

Press freedom

The Maldives plummeted to 103rd in the most recent Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index, a fall of 30 places and a return to pre-2008 levels.

“The events that led to the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed in February led to violence and threats against journalists in state television and private media outlets regarded as pro-Nasheed by the coup leaders,” RSF observed, in its annual ranking of 179 countries.

“Attacks on press freedom have increased since then. Many journalists have been arrested, assaulted and threatened during anti-government protests. On June 5, the freelance journalist and blogger Ismail “Hilath” Rasheed narrowly survived the first attempted murder of a journalist in the archipelago,” RSF noted in its report.

The attack on Aswad is one of the most serious assaults on a Maldivian journalist since blogger Hilath Rasheed had his throat slashed in an alleyway in mid-2012.

Rasheed was initially given a five percent chance of survival, but later recovered. He has since fled the country.


12 thoughts on “Raajje TV journalist in critical condition after attack”

  1. Mr Hirigaa Zahir cannot speculate on the motivation behind the attack on an MDP aligned journalist, a fair assessment considering the lack of evidence. But he has no qualms attributing attacks on govt aligned journalists to opposition protesters. Yet, in the same breath he calls for responsible journalism, to avoid being polarised along political extremes. Laughable, if it wasn't so sad.

  2. The post warned that PPM “might have to come out against Raajje TV.”

    They surely did that. What's clear is that, as night follows day, the Maldives Police Service will "continue to investigate" and they will find absolutely nothing.

    A lone hitman wielding a metre long metal bar, nearly killed an innocent man. Where's the CCTV footage? Where's forensic evidence? Where's the blood laden metal bar that was used in the attack? The attacker would have left the scene strewn with blood and that blood would have followed him all the way to wherever he is hiding now.

  3. The MNDF and gangs is the same. It is a national security directive (We learn from the best in this business- USofA).

    There is no such thing as clean government. There is only national interests (this is primarily an ideological war). The British and Christians versus the Chinese.

    WE greatly commend Mohamed Nasheed's spirit. He is a reformed spiritual man now. His political ethos however must continue to fight to be relevant in this little haven in the Indian ocean (it's a Chinese ocean now okay).

    Empire and Mullah's keen to form a partnership with President Anni. His family, and MDP hidden power-structure and ideology, said Empire and Mullah's will destroy.

    \\stay order

  4. My sympathies with Aswad and his family. He is one of the best reporters in the field and his assailant/s should be brought to justice. Attacks on the press is attacking the very basis of democracy.

  5. Freedom of speech. This is a right. Freedom is a right. Freedom of religion is a right.

  6. We’re 22nd! It says here “heavy government spending have taken a toll on the local economy, cause high inflation and an unemployment rate that’s nearly double since 2010. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-25-most-miserable-places-in-the-world-192748535.html

  7. The police cant be expected to fully protect journalists . Because journalists have a tendancy to disobey police rules during protests and take risks in order to get the best scoop.

  8. Both attacks should have done at the request of political leaders and both are barbaric act.

    Neither Rajje TV not TVM journalists to any media journalist or any individual should be tracked by any mob.

    But we have also seen attacks and vandalism by MDP supporter in the past and look at the damage done to Villa TV.

    I am surprised Fili Nasheed had never raised any concerns when the attacked was known to be done by his mobs. This guy have double standard always.

  9. inside job by police and ppm thugs ( Specially yamin fatty adheeb ) carried out by bows gang

  10. Who would gain from this attack? Who has gained the step ahead?

    There you go, thats where the order must have originated. Proving is impossible. Here, it is difficult to prove a case of child abuse, even when a 12 old gives birth.

  11. This is why there is a day of judgement because in this crazy world, the ones who bear such inhumanity will always suffer and the perpetrators will never be brought into justice!!humans are too engrossed in their own affairs, they only think about themselves and nothing else!i hope Asward recovers soon and that can only be granted by God Almighty and none, not even the great scientists and doctors can do that!!??

    Now the unbelievers will say the doctors with their scientific devices will recover the patient to good health!!What to do??!!


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