IFJ and MJA again urge government to expedite Rilwan case

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Maldives Journalists’ Association (MJA) released a further press statement expressing concerns over “the slow progress made in the search of journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla”.

“Today marks one month since Rilwan was last seen yet the IFJ remains critical of the investigation and the release of information by the authorities,” the statement dated September 8 reads.

“The huge public response to Rilwan’s disappearance shows the strong desire for justice and answers, not only by his journalistic colleagues but the public at large,” the statement quotes IFJ acting director Jane Worthington as saying.

Rilwan was last spotted on CCTV footage at the Hulhumalé Ferry Terminal. Eye witnesses report seeing a man fitting Rilwan’s description being forced into a vehicle at knife point in front of his residence at approximately the time Rilwan would have reached his residence.

The IFJ states that evidence found by Minivan News – later corroborated by other media outlets – suggests Rilwan was abducted, while the authorities have so far not provided any information which links the reported abduction in Hulhumalé to Rilwan’s disappearance.

“One month on, the demand for answers remains strong and if the figures the police provide are correct, there is vital information that is not being shared with the media that might find the culprits behind his disappearance,” said the statement.

The IFJ previously released a statement last month calling upon authorities to undertake a full investigation with the “utmost seriousness, with all findings released to the public.”

“The disappearance of journalists is a serious matter and full support must be provided to the family,” read the August statement.

Rilwan’s family have resorted to lobbying the People’s Majlis in order to gain information about the investigation, noting last week that police updates on the investigation did not included evidence on progress.

The most recent police statement noted that they had questioned 318 individuals, interrogated 111, searched 139 locations in Hulhumalé and conducted dives to search 267,197.5 square meters of ocean.

“These are just statistics,” responded Rilwan’s brother, Moosa at the time. “We want to find him. We want the police to tell us if they have any leads, if there is progress”.

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives and the Maldives Democracy Network have also suggested the police should be conducting investigations more transparently. The UK government has this week expressed concern over the disappearance.

Speaking to Minivan News today, police media officials said  that there were no further developments in the investigation that could be shared with media or the public.

Meanwhile, Rilwan’s family and friends continue in their efforts to find him and spread awareness about the disappearance.

In a social media campaign dubbed ‘Find Moyameehaa‘ – referring to the pseudonym adopted by Rilwan on social media – friends and family have so far conducted various activities in the streets of Malé.

Efforts included the gathering of 5000 signatures on the Majlis petition in just over one week, and a gathering for families victims of violent crimes.

“Friends and family will once again be meeting the public on Friday afternoon from 4 to 6pm at the Artificial Beach,” Rilwan’s long time friend Yameen Rasheed explained.

According to Yameen, Friday’s event will be focused on addressing questions surrounding Rilwan’s suspected abduction, spreading information about Rilwan and the loss society will face in losing young minds like him, sharing various literary works he has produced, and conducting a special prayer in hope of his quick and safe return.