‘We don’t have guns but we can fight with our pens’: Hiriga

Attacks on five senior DhiTV senior officials and the stabbing of a Haveeru employee yesterday afternoon have sparked concern among media outlets that they could be subject to further attacks over their content.

DhiTV reported on its 2 o’clock news yesterday that alleged gang leader Ibrahim ‘Chika’ Nafiz  had been released to house arrest. Soon after the broadcast, a gang reportedly stormed DhiTV studios.

Three hours later a Haveeru printery worker left in a critical condition after being stabbed outside the building.

Police have not yet confirmed whether the two cases are connected, but arrested ten people yesterday evening suspected of involvement in the attacks, including Chika.

“He was arrested in his home last night,” said a police spokesperson, “and today the court gave us five days for further investigation.”

Chika will remain under police custody until the court hearing. Police have meanwhile launched a special operation to investigate the attacks.

The spokesperson said he did not know if the attacks were intended to be a direct message to the media, but said “this really shows how the situation is here.”

‘We will fight with our pens’

President of the Maldives Journalism Association (MJA) and Editor of Haveeru, Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir, said he believed the incidents were “direct attacks on the media.”

“The ruling party members are consistently blaming the media, and suddenly a gang leader leaves jail and attacks us,” Hiriga said, claiming there were political motives behind the attacks.

“The media is in a very bad situation, it is very vulnerable and young.”

Hiriga said he believed DhiTV and Haveeru were targeted because they are “the most vibrant media in this country” and the attacks were “certainly connected.”

He said the attackers had mentioned Haveeru when they entered the DhiTV building, and the police had been informed of this “but did not take enough precautions.”

Hiriga said he did “not want journalists to be afraid, but they are.”

He mentioned that some TV presenters were now “unwilling to appear on TV, and unwilling to report particular news items” because they were “very much afraid that their lives could be put in danger.”

“When law enforcement agencies fail, anything might happen at any time,” he said.

DhiTV CEO Yousuf Navaal said yesterday that “until we receive assurance [of our safety] that we can report this type of news, we will not cover it anymore.”

Hiriga however described Navaal’s approach as “not very professional”, especially since DhiTV had “asked Haveeru not to report on the issue either.

“The media should be one front and approach [these issues] as a collective, but this doesn’t happen,” Hiriga said, suggesting that Navaal was “reluctant” to report the story “because he has not been given enough confidence that the law is under control.”

Deputy Director General of TVM, Mohamed Asif, said the station had not taken extra security measures and were “hesitant and reluctant to report on these issues.”

Hiriga said media should not give in to intimidation: “We don’t have guns but we can fight with our pens!”


DhiTV reported yesterday that Chika had been released to house arrest by the Department for Penitentiary and Rehabilitaion Service (DPRS).

State Minister for Home Affairs Ahmed Adil said the media had been reporting the wrong information, and “he was not released to house arrest”, but had in fact been taken to the DPRS for questioning two days ago.

Adil said the DPRS was investigating Chika and “he signed a paper saying he would cooperate and not leave his house.”

Spokesperson for the DPRS Moosa Rameez said Chika had been in the department’s rehabilitation programme for “six to seven months”, and referred Minivan News to DPRS Managing Director, Mohamed Rasheed.

However Rasheed said he did not want to comment on the issue.

A person familiar with the matter told Minivan News that Chika had been brought to Malé from Maafushi jail for an MRI scan. The source said it was common practice to bring prisoners to Malé when they require medical attention.

Police confirmed Chika had not been placed under house arrest, but would not say why he was in his house yesterday evening.


18 thoughts on “‘We don’t have guns but we can fight with our pens’: Hiriga”

  1. Wow! i was almost impressed with Hiriga until i read the part about him, trying to link the attacks with the current goverment.
    Leave politics out of this Hiriga, in the past few days you have spoken out against extremism and now you have said media should fight with their pens. Bravo! and i hope you continue to lead the media in their fight against extremism and not bowing to gang pressure, and that Haveeru leads by example.
    Hiriga finally seems almost worthy of the position he occupies as president of MJA.
    Oh yeah DhiTV sounds like cowards, obviously they say whatever about whoever they want, but now we know they only choose soft targets.

  2. Hirigaa, thats is a very welcome message if you can show us how you fight the gangsters and extremists with your pen till you succeed.

    President Nasheed and many others fought with their pens to bring Gayyoom's regime down when there was no media freedom at all and when they always had the fear of being put to jail and tortured.

    It will be interesting to see how far you can persevere writing about these issues instead of publishing bold statements.

  3. Hard to believe that Nasheed's government has fallen to such a low level. Is Chika so trustworthy that he does not even need to be placed under house arrest, but be released home because he said he will be a good boy and not leave his house? Shame Shame!

    Guess President Nasheed forgot to mention that lawlessness is a feature of Aneh Dhivehi Rajje!

  4. It is incredibly sad and tragic that journalists are being attacked in this country in the manner that they have. The stabbing of the Haveeru journalist is totally unacceptable and the perpetrators must be found and brought to book.

    However, this does not excuse the fact that Haveeru is a total disgrace of a newspaper. Being critical of the government is one thing. Totally opposing it is also fine. But the distortion of facts and the spreading of malicious untruths that Haveeru engages in cannot be condoned. DhiTV is even worse.

    To hail Hiriga Ahmed Zahir as some kind of fearless crusader on behalf of the free media in this country is a joke.

  5. I was watching a documentary about crime rates in Finland last night and it was quite apparent that most of the credits for bringing down the crime rate was given to the media and then to both sides of the politicians. They all had a mutual understanding that neither will report crime beyond what is the basics of what happened. They will not sensationalise crimes and criminals and will not use crimes for political arguments. All of it makes sense to me.

    What I don't understand is Hirigaa accusing the government of this when in fact criminals are been sent free everyday by the uneducated and corrupt judges appointed by the previous president facilitated by a parliament dominated by DRP. Hirigaa - you have lost all my respect today...

  6. I must also agree though, whoever let dangerous criminals go home should be sacked today.

  7. hirigaa the thing is that you don't want to know the truth, as a so called senior journalist you have an obligation not to confuse the public, the Qaazees have failed, and the raiyathunge majlis izatherei memberun fail vee, you know why? cause when ever these incident occurs the they try to confuse the public by saying jinaa ijuraathuge bill and another bill with big names and useless because of the incompetent judges, so why don't they write a single sentence inorder to give police power to isolate these psychopaths until they become humble citizens, take them to any place where there's loads of work in an island they build cement blocks give them hard labour so that the very thought of knife will make them sick .. but instead you provide them dishtv and cyper cafe and holiday package with their girls friends in the name of maafushi or dhoonidhoo jail .. where the burden lies on the government .. hiri gaa .. i think your head is gaa now

  8. Aung San Suu Kyi should totally come here. Yeah. Goodluck spreading more lies, Mr. President and co. .

  9. “he was not released to house arrest”, but “he signed a paper saying he would cooperate and not leave his house.”?

    Seriously,Adil. what ever it is you smoke...i want some of dat!

  10. Why on Chickaa story DPRS & Home ministry had their own version of story, i belive chickaa did the job and government took him back to his jail & spa..people like Reeko Moosa was threating the media openly. it's the revenge politics thats been practice now in Maldives, i guess our president do not want revenge politics but his hands are tied by some close assosiates of him which will be very bad for him at the end. hope this comments appear.

  11. Adil: He was transferred home because “he signed a paper saying he would cooperate and not leave his house”? I'm astonished!

  12. Does DPRS have the authority to carry out investigations? Is it not the police? But the police say they had no idea why Chika was released.

    I tell the guys at DPRS, please stop ur stupid investigations and let the police do their job.

  13. Personally, a pen will not protect you when they come to kill you (unless youve played +100 hours on Manhunt 2.)

    But guns?. One shot and they'll bolt like rabbits. And there nothing better than shooting a fleeing enemy in the back.


    In all seriousness, though. DhiTV has had its share of arrogance. I've seen their news crew driving recklessly around the narrow streets in their vans, thinking no one could touch them.

    Perhaps the recent zergrush against them will convince them to do better in journalism and learn some humility.

  14. Where is the Home Minister? Shouldn't he be saying something.

    Sorry Gasim, but I don't think anyone from your party should be made Home Minister. You failed and so has Mohamed Shihab. How do we know that Jumhooree party is not deliberately neglecting their responsibilities?

    We need someone who is really capable to take responsibilities as a Home Minister.

  15. Haveeru used to fight with their pens against all of those who wanted reform, while they were backed up by NSS's guns.

  16. People, we should find a link between these attacks and the threat against Hilath. I'm sure we could somehow blame the "MULLAHS".

    Hilath & DO: being journalists, how come you haven't covered this news on either of your websites?


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