Ooreedoo introduces new data packages with free Facebook and Twitter

Telecom provider Ooreedoo has introduced new “Best and Biggest” mobile data packages with free usage of Facebook and Twitter and a data allowance up to 200 gigabytes.

“We’re giving the biggest data allowance available in the country for your smartphone – with 200GB, you can do everything and more. And with free access to Facebook and Twitter, we’re making it even easier to be connected to life online,” said Ooredoo Commercial Director S.P Sarathy.

Prince ranges for the data packages vary from a MVR 99 for 500 Megabytes of data, upto MVR 5699 for the 200 Gigabytes package.

According to Ooredoo, the newly introduced packages are available to both Ooredoo prepaid and pospaid customers and can be activated any time by dialing *929#.


Authorities investigating Facebook adoption advert

Police have confirmed they are investigating reports that a woman in Laamu Atoll used Facebook to announce her one-week old baby was up for adoption.

Local media have reported that the Facebook post – since taken down – said it was “a golden opportunity for anyone who wished for a cute, cute baby girl.”

While Minivan News was unable to obtain comment from the Ministry of Law and Gender today, local media was told that the ministry was also looking into rights of the child having been violated.

“Ministry has set up special procedures and ways in which a child can be put into the care of another, in cases where parents are unable to look after the child. Or for the child to be taken immediately into State custody,” Deputy Gender Minister Shidhatha Shareef told Haveeru.

Local NGO Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) explained that cases of adoption are very rare in the Maldives, and so there is no clear legal framework such proceedings.

Minivan News has been told previously that the Maldives has no formal adoption procedures, with courts instead permitting permit a long-term guardianships – normally by extended family members.

While officials from Maavah Island Council told Haveeru that the gender ministry had been notified when the woman gave birth on December 11, though the ministry said it had not been notified that the family did not have resources to look after the child.

The child was reportedly born in the health center on the island, which has a population of 1,270.

Related to this story

Informal adoption laws and lack of legislation hampering Health Ministry


Gangsters abduct, beat pro-opposition Facebook page administrator, and hack page

Gangsters abducted and beat the administrator of a pro-opposition Ranreendhoo Maldives Facebook page last night after the page published pictures of individuals implicated in the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

Reliable sources told Minivan News the Ranreendhoo Madives administrator was accosted at his workplace at 9pm on Wednesday night and escorted to a café at Malé’s Artificial Beach area.

In a closed room, the dozen strong group then beat and interrogated him as to who had posted the pictures online.

The social media posts, which were widely circulated on Facebook and Twitter, named and publicised pictures of known gangsters, some of whom were named in Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security’s investigation into Rilwan’s August 8 disappearance.

Many of those identified in the posts also hold records of murder and organised crime including drug trafficking.

One of the posts included a photograph of gangsters with Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb at a motorcycle rally to mark ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) one year anniversary in power.

According to sources, the “offensive” posts were removed on Wednesday afternoon after the page’s administrators were threatened via text messages. The abduction occurred hours later.

Gangsters forcibly took the Ranreendhoo Maldives administrator’s phone and posted several status updates claiming Rilwan had been disappeared because he had threatened to leak damning documents involving opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Ranreendhoo Maldives has 9,502 likes.

Among the abductors identified by the source were Ahmed Ismail (Ahandhu), Ismail Razeen (Rabarey), Arlif Rauf, and Ahmed Muaz (Gatu Mua).

The four were also reported to have been behind the abduction and interrogation of several young men in June. These abductions were carried out to find out the identities of administrators of Facebook groups advocating secularism and atheism in the Maldives.

Abductors forced victims to hand over their Facebook account details and hijacked a popular Facebook group called ‘Colorless’ which had been set up to facilitate discussion on politics in the aftermath of Nasheed’s ouster in February 2012.

Athena Intelligence and Security’s investigative report named three of the four as possible suspects in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Discounting theories of suicide and voluntary disappearance, the report said Rilwan was likely to have been abducted by gangs motivated by religious extremism.

Home Minister Umar Naseer has also acknowledged involvement of gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Shortly after the report’s release on September 25, Muaz vandalized Minivan News’ security cameras as others left a machete in the building’s door. Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s offices were firebombed and Nasheed’s family residence was vandalised on the same night.

Nasheed in a tweet last night called on the Maldives Police Services to investigate the abduction immediately.

However, a police spokesperson said abduction has not been reported, and declined to comment when asked if the police would initiate an investigation on their own.

Nasheed has recently criticised President Abdulla Yameen’s administration for increasing insecurity in the Maldives and said the government has been taken hostage by gangs and rogue police officers.


Human rights and wrongs – The Weekly Review

June 7th – 13th

A series of attacks and abductions in the capital Malé this week brought concern and condemnation from politicians and human rights stakeholders.

The incidents, understood to have been part of a vigilante campaign against supporters of atheism and homosexuality, have yet to provoke a response from the government.

Reports emerged of groups having previously expressed their concern regarding the publication of content offensive to Islam.

While the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) voiced concerns at the reports of the physical assault and threatening of multiple individuals last weekend, the vice president of the Human Rights Commission urged the state to reassure the public of their safety.

Minivan News spoke with previous victims of online threats turned into physical violence, asking how fearful Maldivians should be of online attackers.

Meanwhile, the Maldives representative on the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva pressed the case for greater consideration of religious intolerance, as well as the plight of Palestinians and Syrians.

Maldivian involvement in UN peacekeeping operations was again criticised by local NGO Jamiyatul Salaf, which expressed concern that troops would become embroiled in action against fellow Muslims.

Other foreign entanglements this week were less controversial and potentially more lucrative, with the vice president continuing the search for foreign investors in China while customs officials signed a cooperation deal with UAE authorities.

Home Minister Umar Naseer travelled to the Netherlands this week in order to procure sniffer dogs as part of his anti-drugs campaign – missing a second successive court hearing in the process.

Details of government attempts to provide a welcoming environment for prospective investors were revealed as details of the recently introduced special economic zones bill emerged – featuring nine largely tax-exempt areas across the country.

One group not be welcoming foreign investment, however, was MATATO which argued that moves to award an exclusive deal to a foreign group would harm both its member businesses and tourists – whose numbers continued to grow last month.

Plans to develop a new airport on Farukolhu Island in Shaviyani atoll were blocked by the Environmental Protection Agency, while environmental NGOs expressed skepticism that the government had the capacity to enforce newly protected ray species.

In the far north, Udha waves – a uniquely Maldivian phenomena – flooded large parts of Haa Alif Dhidhoo while Bluepeace called for the empowerment of local councils across the nation to deal with waste management issues.

Another uniquely Maldivian story was explored by Hulhevi Media, who launched a documentary researching the realities behind the traditional romantic epic ‘Buruni Ballad’.

The power of Malé City Council continued to decline meanwhile as both City and Fini parks were reclaimed for the use of Housing Ministry, while President Abdulla Yameen defended his party’s use of the official residence for political events.

Yameen’s government proposed amendments to a number of laws to align them with the constitution, while Adhaalath Party MP Anara Naeem proposed raise the monthly disability allowance from MVR2,000 to MVR5,000.

The opposition MDP this week restarted political activities after a post-election hiatus, with the opening of a new party haruge in Malé.


Facebook donations help 9 month-old baby get lifesaving surgery

A nine-month-old baby boy was able to have a life saving heart surgery after his family created a Facebook appeal for donations to fly him to India for treatment.

Akiyal’s father Farhan, an engineer from the Maldives, decided to make a Facebook page after the family was unable to able to get any funding in Maldives for the operation, reported the Deccan Chronicle.

After launching the Facebook campaign back in July 2013, and undergoing three open heart operations, Farhan has announced that Akiyal has now recovered and they will be returning to the Maldives in a few days.

Akiyal was born with a rare heart condition known as double outlet right ventricle (DORV), a condition in which the blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart, is located in the wrong place.

“It was a complex surgery in the sense that the child was born with one side of the heart not developed, undeveloped left pumping chamber and a large hole in the heart along with a blockage of the artery going to the lung. He required a complex repair job, which wasn’t being done in the Maldives,” says the child’s doctor, Adil Sadiq, Head Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Sakra World Hospital in Karnataka.

Farhan told the Deccan Chronicle, “It was not possible to get funds in the Maldives, so my family and I decided to go online and ask for help from the social media. We went ahead with creating a Facebook page for our son.”

“We promoted the page by paying five dollars, which implied that 20,000 Facebook users would see the page,” says Farhan.

“The money that we used to promote the page time and again was less than 100 dollars, but we were able to raise Rs 8 lakh over the course of the year,” adds Farhan.

According to the article, the Facebook page received donations from anonymous altruists in Sri Lanka, Belgium, Maldives and Bangalore.


Police investigating anti-Islamic activity on social media

The police are investigating online anti-Islamic social media activity, officials have confirmed.

A police media official confirmed that the investigation was  initiated by the police, but that they have since received similar complaints from the public.

Minivan News has learned that the police investigation is particularly focused on a Facebook page titled ‘Dhivehi Atheists/Maldivian Atheists’, though police have said that the investigation is not focused on a particular page but all such unlawful activity will be investigated.

Religious conservative Adhaalath party has condemned the page for  insulting the Prophet and God by drawing offensive cartoons. Adhaalath called to block the page and take action against everyone behind the page.

The page, which appears to be run by Maldivians, posts content critical of and insulting Muslims, Islamists, Islam, God, and the Prophet Muhammad. Liked by just 300 users, the majority of the posts are in local Dhivehi language.

According to the page administrators, the purpose of creating it was encouraging Maldivians to leave Islam and “choose the path of science and reason”.

Reacting to the page, a number of people are posting comments with apologetic content and advising those behind the group to repent and accept Islam. Some users are calling to behead the anonymous administrators of the page and praying for God’s wrath upon them.

Several posts made by visitors accused various people of being behind the page and threatened to kill them. Many visitors have stated that the administrator has been identified to be a woman.

The 2008 constitution of Maldives declares that all citizens of the Maldives should be Muslims, while article 32 of the Religious Unity Regulation declares “Insulting or committing any action that may offend Islamic slogans” as prohibited.

This includes anything which “insults Allah, His Prophets and Messengers, the Companions of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH)”. Insulting the Quran, Islamic Mosques and Other Islamic slogans are also prohibited.

The punishments for these offenses are given in the Religious Unity Act of 1994, which allows 2-5 years imprisonment or house arrest, and an additional year for every time such an offense is repeated. Under Islamic Shariah law as interpreted in the Maldives, apostasy is punishable by death.

While discussion of controversial religious issues are restricted by law, much discussions happens online with moderate Muslims, secularists, Islamists, and atheists discussing and debating on religious issues through social media.

Hate speech and threats against contributors are regularly posted by radicals on both sides of the debates.

While many locals identify themselves as non-Muslims online, only a few cases of Maldivians who publicly declared their disbelief in God have been reported in the media.

Among them was 25 year old Ismail Mohamed Didi, who was found hanged from an air traffic control tower in 2010. Didi had been seeking asylum after his colleagues started harassing him for his atheism.

In the same year, Mohamed Nazim announced his disbelief on live television during a public question-and-answer session with Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik. Nazim was escorted from the venue by police for his own protection, before announcing his return to the faith after religious counselling received while in detention.

In 2011 a silent protest calling for religious tolerance was attacked by Islamist extremists, the main victim in the attack – local blogger Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed – also faced a life threatening attack the next year before seeking refuge abroad.


Police investigating attempted assault of MV Youth editor over PPM fan page on Facebook

Police have confirmed they are investigating the alleged attempted assault of the editor of Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM)-aligned news website, MV Youth.

Musharraf Hassan alleged he had received “death threats” from PPM Council Member Zahid Rameez for refusing to make him an administrator of a PPM fan page on Facebook.

Musharraf told Minivan News that Rameez and another individual came into the studio of Channel 13 – a local broadcaster also affiliated with the PPM – and demanded he give them control of the Facebook page that promoted PPM’s campaign and its presidential candidate, Abdulla Yameen.

Musharraf alleged the second individual was a person the police had previously identified as a “dangerous person” and a well known local gang member.

Minivan News understands that the Facebook page being contested is the ‘Progressive Party of Maldives’ page founded in September 2011, which at time of press had 6,113 people following it.

“It is a page that we formed as supporters of PPM. It was formed even before Mv Youth came into existence. The page has no official connection to PPM, but Rameez wanted the control of it. Even before the incident, they threatened me to give up the control before 8:00pm last night or I would be sliced into pieces,” he alleged.

Musharraf said he had conceded to the threats and given up control of the page. However, the case was shortly after reported to police. Rameez and the other individual had left the scene by the time the police arrived.

“Following the incident, there have been attempts made to defame Mv Youth in public. Rameez is spreading the word that we were demanding money for the page. But I can assure you, we demanded nothing from them, although they owe us money regarding other work we had done,” Musharraf told Minivan News.

Mv Youth meanwhile issued a statement calling on the authorities and the PPM to take action against the PPM council member.

“Mv Youth will not ground its operation based on threats it receives from a politician or any political party. We will remain determined in bringing truth to the public,” read the statement.

The alleged PPM Council Member Zahid Rameez was appointed to the party’s council as part of three appointees of Party President and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, after he  unsuccessfully contested the position of the party’s Youth League President, losing to current Deputy Minister of Transport Ibrahim Nazim.

A police media official confirmed to Minivan News that they were currently investigating a case of “attempted assault” concerning the Editor of Mv Youth.


Police launch investigation into social media sex scandal ring

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz has said police have received reports that people are being solicited for cybersex over social media and blackmailed with compromising pictures and videos.

Commissioner Riyaz confirmed the investigation to local newspaper Haveeru but declined to provide details. A police media official likewise declined to provide any information beyond confirming the investigation was underway, or whether any arrests had been made.

Police investigated a similar case in February 2011, leading to the arrest of 14 people. Police concluded the investigation and sent it to the Prosecutor General’s Office, but the case was never sent to court.

At the time, police revealed the 14 individuals, including a minor, had been arrested on suspicion of obtaining hundreds of nude pictures and videos stored on computers and external hard drives.  It was alleged that these images had been obtained through inviting Maldivians to befriend fake Facebook profiles with the image of a young blond woman, and soliciting them for cybersex.

Police said at the time that two profiles with the names of ‘Lyshiaa Limanom’ and ‘Angelic Sharrown’ were used by the suspects to gather compromising pictures and videos of victims performing explicit acts, in some cases in the presence of minors. Investigators stated that they would also be investigating these people people for committing crimes.


UN website hacked by Anonymous

The United Nation (UN)’s Maldives website has been defaced by internet ‘hacktivists’ Anonymous.

Maldives Anonymous, who claimed responsibility for the hack, posted a large image on the UN homepage stating that the group had exposed the website’s weak security.

“You have been hacked. We are here. Your security is zero. System is pwned and owned by Anonymous.MV404,” the message reads. “Don’t hate me for this. Your security made me do this.”

A post on Anonymous Maldives’ Facebook page, calls for the UN to “update its security” following the attack.

Anonymous is a loosely associated international group of hackers that claims to strongly oppose internet censorship and surveillance.

Formed in 2003, the group has hacked into a number of government computer systems across the world.