Maldives slides on Press Freedom Index for third consecutive year

The Maldives has dropped to 108th place in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index for 2014, marking a decline in press freedom for the third consecutive year.

The index reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organisations and netizens enjoy in each country and the efforts made by authorities to ensure respect for this freedom.

In February 2013, opposition aligned broadcaster Raajje TV reporter Ibrahim ‘Asward’ Waheed was nearly beaten to death, whilst the station’s offices and equipment were destroyed in an arson attack in October.

Maldives is ranked between Fiji and the Central African Republic. Fiji, at 107, experienced a coup in 2006, and the Central African Republic, at 109, is in the midst of a civil war following a coup in 2013.

Speaking to Minivan News, the President of the Maldives Journalist Association Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir said he did not understand why the Maldives’ ranking should decline as compared to 2013, claiming there have been no “extra-ordinary” changes in media freedoms.

However, the ex Maldives Media Council (MMC) President Mohamed Husham said the Maldives has seen a sudden decline in press freedom following the ousting of the country’s first democratically elected government in 2012. Journalists have been experiencing physical and psychological intimidation, he said.

Husham accused the newly elected President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and his administration of not being responsive to the press and said he had resigned from the MMC last week in protest.

Asward is the second journalist who survived a murder attempt in the country’s recent history. In June 2012, two men slashed freelance journalist and blogger Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed’s throat with a box cutter. Hilath is currently seeking political asylum abroad.

Two men wielding steel bars on a motorcycle severely beat Asward and left him for the dead. He was airlifted to Sri Lanka to undergo major surgery, and returned to the Maldives after three months of medical treatment.

He has not yet regained full sight in his right eye. Two men have been charged with assaulting Asward in the ongoing case.

In October, six masked men set fire to Raajje TV’s headquarters and destroyed the station’s offices, control room, computer systems, broadcasting and transmission equipment. The attack came hours after the station sent a written request to the police seeking protection having received reports of an impending attack.

The RSF issued a statement condemning the Maldives Police Services failure to defend the station.

“This criminal act is a direct blow to freedom of information, and we deplore the attitude of the police, who failed to do what was necessary to prevent the attack although the head of the TV station requested protection a few hours before it took place,” the statement read.

The Police Integrity Commission has recommended charges be filed against two police officers for negligence in preventing the attack.

Further, the police and President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s administration continued a boycott of Raajje TV despite a Civil Court ruling stating media boycotts to be unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has ordered the police to launch an investigation against the station for alleged contempt of court.

Prior to the country’s first multi-party democratic election in 2008, the Maldives was ranked 104th – an improvement on its 2007 ranking of 129th, and 2006 – 144th. The country’s ranking in 2009-2010 reflected dramatic improvements in press freedom, rising to 51st and 52nd respectively. The ranking slipped to 73rd in 2011 and 103rd in 2012.

Despite its plunge in 2013, the Maldives is still ranked higher than regional neighbours India (140th), Sri Lanka (165th), Pakistan (158th), Bangladesh (146th), and Nepal (120th).

According to the RSF, the Indian sub-continent is the Asian region with the biggest rise in violence for journalists for the second year running.


Journalists association condemns death threats against TVM presenter

The Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) has condemned death threats against state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) Deputy Editor Aishath Leeza Laurella.

The presenter had been the subject of criticism from certain political groups over the past week after a series of programmes  interviewing the candidates of next month’s presidential election.

After the ‘siyaasath’ (policy) show’s inaugural interview with Jumhoree Party (JP)  candidate Ibrahim Gasim, party officials accused the presenter of attempting to “demean” its candidate.

In a statement issued today, the MJA said that giving death threats because of the questions asked by a journalist or television presenter is not acceptable and slammed it as an act to terminate press freedom in the country.

The MJA called on the police to hasten the investigation of the case and stated that the interviews with the presidential candidates represented important work done by the media.

Police media officials today told Minivan News that a case was filed with police by Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) alleging that a group of people were plotting an attack on Leeza, posing a threat to her life.

The official explained that the investigation of the case was ongoing and that no arrests had yet been made. He declined to provide further information beyond this.

TVM is scheduled to televise a four-way presidential debate on September 1. Gasim’s JP yesterday confirmed that their candidate would be taking part, after suggestions he was considering a boycott of the station.

Press Freedom

In February this year, Leeza and a second TVM journalist were hospitalised after being hit by projectiles containing some kind of irritant which local media reported to be paint thinner.

On the same evening, Ibrahim ‘Aswad’  Waheed – a reporter for private broadcaster Raajje TV – was left in a critical condition after being badly beaten by two men using iron bars in Male’.

In mid-2012, controversial blogger Hilath Rasheed had his throat slashed in an alleyway on Chandhanee Magu.

Rasheed was initially given a five percent chance of survival, but later recovered. He has since fled the country. No arrests were made in the case.

The Maldives plummeted to 103rd in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index for 2013, a fall of 30 places and a return to pre-2008 levels.

The Paris-based organisation included ‘extremist religious groups’ in the Maldives in its ‘Predators of Freedom of Information’ report for 2013.

The 2013 report accused “leaders and members of fanatical groups in the Maldives” of “intimidating media organisations and bloggers and threatening them with physical harm in order to force them to exercise self-censorship.”

TVM was itself the scene of violence during the chaos surrounding former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation on February 7, 2012. The gates of the station – known as the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) prior to the transfer of power – were broken down by rampaging security forces.

“A policeman shouted that we [MNBC] have brought enough of what government wanted. Now its time for them to broadcast what they want,” recalled one staff member.

The employee said that they were then ordered to patch through the Villa Television (VTV) channel, owned by JP leader Gasim. The nation then watched VTV on the state television’s frequency before the feed was cut off and came back on, re-branded as TVM.

VTV soon became the victim of further violence as opponents of current president, Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, attacked the station’s studios during unrest surrounding the attempted re-opening of parliament.


Reporters Without Borders labels Maldives’ extremist groups “predators of press freedom”

International press freedom NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has included ‘extremist religious groups’ in the Maldives in its ‘Predators of Freedom of Information’ report for 2013.

The report, released to mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3, identifies ‘predators of press freedom’ around the world, including “presidents, politicians, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that censor, imprison, kidnap, torture and kill journalists and other news providers. Powerful, dangerous and violent, these predators consider themselves above the law.”

The 2013 report “accuses leaders and members of fanatical groups in the Maldives” of “intimidating media organisations and bloggers and threatening them with physical harm in order to force them to exercise self-censorship.”

The report also accuses extremist groups in the Maldives of “promoting of repressive legislation”, “debasement of political debate”, contributing to the “censorship of publications and the blocking of access to websites”, and “resorting to violence, and even murder, to silence dissident opinions.”

“Ever since the army mutiny that overthrew President Mohamed Nasheed in the Maldives in 2012, extremist religious groups have tried to use their nuisance power to extend their influence. They have become more aggressive as the [September 2013] presidential election approaches, intimidating news media and bloggers and using freedom of expression to impose a religious agenda while denying this freedom to others,” the report states.

The report identifies the general characteristics of media repression around the world, most notably the impunity those responsible enjoyed.

“Physical attacks on journalists and murders of journalists usually go completely unpunished. This encourages the predators to continue their violations of human rights and freedom of information,” the report stated.

“The 34 predators who were already on the 2012 list continue to trample on freedom of information with complete disdain and to general indifference. The leaders of dictatorships and closed countries enjoy a peaceful existence while media and news providers are silenced or eliminated.”

The report emphasises that failure to confront and prosecute those responsible for violations of press freedom was not due to a lack of laws, but rather selective or non-existent enforcement.

“The persistently high level of impunity is not due to a legal void. There are laws and instruments that protect journalists in connection with their work. Above all, it is up to individual states to protect journalists and other media personnel. This was stressed in Resolution 1738 on the safety of journalists, which the United Nations security council adopted in 2006,” the report stated.

“Nonetheless, states often fail to do what they are supposed to do, either because they lack the political will to punish abuses of this kind, or because their judicial system is weak or non-existent, or because it is the authorities themselves who are responsible for the abuses.”

Attacks on journalists

The Maldives plummeted to 103rd in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index for 2013, 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 2012, 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.

Rasheed, who subsequently fled the country, alleged the attacked was a targeted assassination attempt by Islamic radicals in retaliation for his public calls for religious tolerance. Police have yet to arrest anybody in connection with the murder attempt.

Subsequent to the the release of the press freedom index, Raajje TV journalist Ibrahim Waheed ‘Aswad’ suffered serious head injuries and was left in a critical condition after he was attacked on the street with an iron bar.

Waheed was attacked while he was on his way to see two Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) journalists, who were admitted to hospital after being attacked during opposition-led protests.

Following the attack, Aswad was airlifted to Sri Lanka for emergency surgery. He later recovered and returned to the Maldives.

Police have since forwarded cases against suspects Ahmed Vishan, 22, M. Carinlight Northside, and Hassan Raihan, 19, G. Fehima, for prosecution.

Press freedom day in the Maldives

Meanwhile, the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) has launched a campaign calling for laws protecting journalists, “such as salaries, work hours and insurance for journalists,” according to MJA President and Editor of Sun Online, Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir.

The MJA showed a T-shirt promoting the ‘Working Journalists Act’, released as part of the campaign during a ceremony in the DhiTV studio.

According to Sun Online, MJA Secretary General Mundoo Adam Haleem “said that while the government has established an organisation to work for the benefit of media operators, people should ascertain for themselves who actually works for the benefit of media operators.”

Local media also reported on an acknowledgement of World Press Freedom Day during Friday’s sermon delivered all over the Maldives, encouraging people to draw a distinction between “press freedom” and “press fairness”.

An event organised by the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) to mark the signing of a five point pledge to uphold media freedom was meanwhile cancelled due to inclement weather.


Maldivian journalist arrested by police for taking photos

Police have arrested a Maldivian journalist while he was taking photographs outside the justice building on Tuesday morning (March 26).

SunMV journalist, Ahmed Azif, was taken into police custody after contesting claims by police that he could not take photographs without displaying press identification, local media reported.

Maldives Media Council (MMC) and Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) have since condemned the arrest of the journalist, calling for all parties to refrain from actions that might hinder freedom of the press.

A statement from MJA reads: “While it is not prohibited to take photographs near the justice building by a journalist or anyone else, arresting a journalist for taking pictures in the area is a deliberate act to instigate fear among journalists.”

SunMV has claimed that Azif had been picked out by police from a number of journalists standing outside the justice building.


Journalists need to act more professionally to prevent further confrontation: MJA, MBC

National media body figureheads have called on journalists to act more professionally to prevent future confrontations between themselves and the public.

Their comments follow a brutal attack on a senior reporter from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)-aligned Raajje TV station, who was left in a critical condition.

The reporter, Ibrahim ‘Aswad’ Waheed, was attacked with an iron bar while riding on a motorcycle near the artificial beach area in the capital Male’.

Two Television Maldives (TVM) journalists were also attacked on the same night with an irritant – reported to be paint thinner in local media – while covering protests on Sosun Magu in Male’.

While no arrests have been reported by police, Maldives Police Service Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News today that “progress” had been made in regard to the investigation.

Senior figures from both Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) and Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) have since said that journalists need to act in a more professional manner in order to help prevent future confrontations between the public and reporters.

MBC Vice President Mohamed Shahyb told Minivan News that journalists have been targeted because “hatred has been building” towards them over a long period of time.

“Some journalists are not doing their work professionally in the Maldives. The biggest problem is that they do not have much education or training [in journalism] and because of that they write anything.

“If the professional standard can be maintained, similar incidents can be contained and controlled,” Shahyb told Minivan News.

The MBC Vice President claimed that there are “too many opinions” leaking into news reports and that politicians need to start “pointing their fingers” at journalists who are not working in the correct manner.

“Social networking is also a big problem. Even if they work professionally, they then go onto social media sites and start expressing their own personal feelings, this is an issue,” Shahyb said.

MJA President, Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir, expressed similar concern, adding that journalists need to be more impartial with their reporting.

“We need to encourage media to be more objective. When we listen to the TV or radio we can’t tell the difference between an opinion piece or the actual news itself.”

On Saturday, Zahir requested the media to act more professionally and stop “spreading hatred”, while calling for police to give greater protection to journalists.

Meanwhile, President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik called on the media to “encourage stability, unity and harmony” in the country, adding that those responsible for the attacks will be brought to justice.

Police protection kits

Assistant Commissioner of Police Ahmed Saudhee told local media on Saturday that police will now provide safety equipment for journalists when covering protests, and that special efforts will be made to investigate and prosecute the attacks on persons of the media.

“Right now, we can do two things towards extending protection for journalists. As such, we will give special attention to investigate and prosecute the attacks made on the police, and we’ll work hastily to towards this end.

“Next, in order to cover the protests as closely as possible, we will provide the kits used by the police to a selected journalists, for their safety and protection,” Saudhee was quoted as saying in Sun Online.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Haneef told Minivan News today that the kits will be made available to journalists should they make a request for the equipment.

Violence condemned

Maldivian journalists took to the streets of Male’ yesterday to protests against the recent attacks, joining international organisations who have also condemned the violence.

The United States Embassy in Colombo released a statement on Saturday expressing concern over the attacks on the journalists.

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental democratic right, and we strongly condemn these attacks on Maldives media personnel. We urge all Maldivians to refrain from violence, urge protesters and police to respect the right of all media outlets to cover demonstrations,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the United Nations in the Maldives said the violence amounted to an attack on freedom of expression and merited “prompt investigations”.


Police decision to ostracise Raajje TV unconstitutional, rules civil court

The Civil Court has ruled that a decision by the Maldives Police Service to cease cooperating with opposition-aligned TV station Raajje TV was unconstitutional.

Police announced in July that they had stopped cooperating with the local broadcaster, alleging that the station was broadcasting false and slanderous content about the police which had undermined its credibility and public confidence. Raajje TV subsequently filed a suit in the civil court challenging the legality of the decision and requested the court to order police take back their decision.

Delivering the verdict, Civil Court Judge Mariyam Nihayath said the court was of the view that the police decision had been to completely suspend cooperation with the TV station, rather than just barring the channel from specific events and functions.

The judge added that the court believed such a decision was “extremely dangerous and significantly serious” and could result in “chaos and infringement of social harmony.”

Dismissing the police argument that it had the sole discretion to decide who to invite to press conferences and functions, the court stated that the action more resembled a deliberate attempt to limit the constitutional rights of freedom of expression, freedom of media and the right to information.

“Therefore, the court finds the decision by the Maldives Police Service to not to cooperate with Raajje TV a violation of the constitution of the Maldives and the Maldives Police Services Act, and orders the Maldives Police Service to provide protection for the employees and property of the station, and to not discriminate against the  TV station when providing information,” read the verdict.

Following the decision, police media official Superintendent Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that police would fully respect the court’s decision.

He further said that a police legal team would be reviewing the judgement and if the need arose, would appeal the decision in the High Court.

“We will come to a decision very soon. We will also be seeking advice from the attorney general and then seek a final decision on whether to appeal the case,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy CEO of Raajje TV Yamin Rasheed told the media that the judgement was a “huge achievement” for both the station and those working in the media.

“Raajje TV single-handedly stood up against the decision without support from any authority or organisation. We knew the police decision was wrong and that is why we filed the case. I believe this is a huge achievement for both Raajje TV and the media of the country,” he said.

Following the decision last year, police issued a statement claiming the channel had “deliberately and continuously broadcast false and baseless content with the intention to incite hatred [towards police].”

“Raajje TV’s broadcasting of false and baseless content about the police institution is seen to be carried out for the political benefit of certain parties and such actions neither fit with the norms of professional journalism or the principles followed by media outlets of other democratic countries,” read the statement.

The decision came just a day after Raajje TV broadcast CCTV footage of several police officers, whom the station alleged were “caught on video” while attempting to steal petrol from a motorbike parked in an alley in Male’.

Police later denied the allegations and condemned Raajje TV for spreading “false and untrue” information about them.

Superintendent of Police Abdulla Navaz in a press briefing at the time stated that the video footage was showing police carrying out their legal duty.

Raajje TV had twisted the details and information in their news report, Navaz alleged, claiming that police were confiscating a five litre container of petrol rather than stealing it.

Following the broadcast of the video, the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) sent a letter to the TV station accusing it of broadcasting the content without checking its authenticity and ordered it to apologise for its  actions.

However, speaking to Minivan News at the time, Yamin confirmed the incident took place and said the station would stand by its broadcast.

Raajje TV is one of the five private broadcasters in the country and is the only television station aligned with the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The TV station has come under substantial pressure and criticism from groups including the government and political parties aligned with it.  The station has also claimed to have faced outright sabotage.


Training concerns raised as MBC cuts political content from state broadcasts

The Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) this week announced a temporary halt to all political programming on state media outlets, amidst debate over the need for more independent and informative public broadcasting.

Speaking to local media, MBC Chair Ibrahim Umar Manik claimed that all political programmes on Television Maldives (TVM) and radio broadcaster Voice of Maldives (VOM) would be stopped until both organisations better understood their public service role and could provide “intellectually debatable programs”.

Manik, who was unavailable for comment when contacted by Minivan News at the time of going to press, told Sun Online that “foreign groups” were currently training TVM and VOM staff to overcome challenges in operating as a public service broadcaster. Both broadcasters are reportedly set to instead air dramas and other “social programs” in place of political content, though the “Raajje Miadhu” evening show is still expected to deal with the day’s major headlines.

Local media bodies, as well as politicians, have complained that state broadcasting under both Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Mohamed Nasheed and Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s administrations had been traditionally run for political and commercial benefit rather than as a public service.

Legal battles

The MBC has been previously involved in a protracted legal battle against former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration over whether the executive – via the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) – or parliament should have responsibility for overseeing state media.

The MNBC was established by Nasheed to run the state media, removing its employees from the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission (CSC). In 2010, the then-opposition majority parliament created MBC and demanded the transfer of MNBC’s assets to the new body, which Nasheed’s government refused to do, alleging political partiality on behalf of the MBC board.

Following the controversial transfer of power that saw President Mohamed Waheed Hassan take office in February, MBC was granted control of TVM and VOM.

Informative focus

Despite this politicking over the control of state media, Maldives Media Council (MMC) President Mohamed Nazeef told Minivan News today that he hoped the MBC’s initiative to rethink public service programming would ensure greater informative and education programming on social issues.

“They [the MBC] are trying to do this, but I believe we need a change of mind set,” he said. “The problem they [state media] has is not so much about politicised thinking, but in having a proper knowledge of how public service broadcasting functions,” he said.

Taking the example of commercial broadcasters in the Maldives, Nazeef said that programmes were focused almost entirely on providing entertainment rather than informative and educational content – something he believed was also the case for the country’s state broadcasters as well.

He claimed that as a result of this focus on entertainment, political programs in the country had traditionally focused on bringing together two rival politicians to confront each other rather than on informing the public about issues such as democratic reform, human rights or public health.

From the perspective of the MMC, Nazeef claimed that local public service broadcasters did not presently have sufficient training to operate under a manner expected of non-commercial media organisations, such as providing a greater emphasis on educational content.

He therefore urged caution over the reforms, adding that the MMC hoped to see a greater focus by the MBC on providing training for finding stories and issues concerning social development.

“Democracy came overnight [following the presidential elections of 2008]. People really needed to be educated on what exactly this meant for society,” he said. “ State media should pay much more of a role in informing people.”

“Propaganda machine”

Nazeef said he believed that since its inception, state media, whether in the guise of TVM, or the re-branded MNBC during Nasheed’s presidency, was continuously run more as a “propaganda machine” and commercial outlet than a state broadcaster.

Beyond covering political developments, Nazeef said he hoped that more training and focusses would be provided to cover issues related to health and human rights.

“At present, you do not find awareness programmes in the Maldives media,” he claimed. “Training is definitely needed in how to find these kinds of stories.”

Training calls

The Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) President Hiriga Ahmed Zahir concurred that training was needed to help both TVM and VOM adapt to becoming more public service-orientated broadcasters, as well as opting for political impartiality.  However, he claimed that deep rooted partisan thinking posed significant challenges in allowing for more independent coverage on the issues affecting the public.

To this end, Hiriga said he understood that the MBC had temporarily suspended political programming in an attempts to try and have more issue based programming on both TVM and VOM, particularly for important national issues like dealing with dengue fever.

He claimed that he was therefore broadly in favour of the proposed move by the MBC to adopt a more public service-orientated broadcast model.

“I believe it’s not bad actually. At the moment there is no choice to see any other kind of programs, so there should be much more of a focus on public issues,” he said. “My point is that public broadcasters should not just have programs about politics.”

Hiriga accepted that in the long-term, public broadcasting needed to deal with political issues affecting the nation, but this needed to be handled in a different way to how he believed the state had informed its citizens in the past.

“Certainly there should be more independent and liberal minded people in state media,” he said.

However, Hiriga claimed that ensuring independent political coverage in the country was extremely difficult for journalists in the Maldives due to the partisan politics that often divides the nation down party lines on many issues.

“Most journalists are strong believers on either side of the country’s political divide. This makes it difficult for them to produce stories independently and more training is needed in this area,” he said.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokespersons Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Imthiyaz Fahmy could not be contacted by Minivan News at the time of press regarding the party’s view of the proposed changes to state broadcasting.

However, on March 11 this year, the party announced its intentions to lodge a complaint against the current practices of the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation’s (MBC) state media outlets, alleging that it was broadcasting “blatant propaganda”.

In the letter, the MDP accused the MBC of violating the agreements mandated by the Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) Act of August 2010 by producing biased content and not giving adequate exposure to all political groups.

Last month, Minivan News reported on some of the challenges said to be hampering independent reporting and free media in the country.


Broadcasting Commission, Journalist Association condemns MNDF “threats” to private media

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) and Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) has condemned the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) for asking private television stations not to broadcast any content from Friday’s ‘Defend Islam’ protest that could disrupt national security and “encourage the toppling of the lawfully-formed government.”

Privately-owned media outlets, DhiTV and Villa TV, broadcast live coverage of the eight-hour long protest organised by a coalition of NGOs and seven opposition parties.

In a statement yesterday, MJA contended that the letter sent to the television stations, signed by Chief of Defence Force Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel, amounted to “undue influence” and “threats” to free media, noting that regulating the media was the role of the Media Council and Broadcasting Commission.

MJA claimed that MNDF was politically pressured to send the letters, observing that the directive was sent before the protest had started.

“The announcement was very irresponsible and we call on MNDF to apologise,” MJA said in the statement.

The journalist association also strongly criticised state broadcaster Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) for “biased coverage” of Friday’s opposition and ruling party protests.

In addition to repeated runs of President Mohamed Nasheed’s speech at the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) rally in support of ‘moderate Islam,’ the state broadcaster also showed live telecast of an impromptu rally held at the MDP Haruge facility on Friday night.

“MNBC is run by state money and transmitting biased video footage and images is something that Maldives Broadcasting Commission should investigate,” the MJA said, reiterating its call for the government to transfer assets of MNBC to MBC, which was formed by an Act of parliament.

Broadcasting Commission Chair Badr Naseer meanwhile told local media that threats to the media from the military was “not something that we should see in a society maturing for democracy.”

MNDF Spokesperson Major Abdul Raheem told Minivan News that the army did not wish to comment on the MJA statement.

“That day we issued the statement because we found that it was necessary given the situation at that time,” he said.


MJA concerned over recent attacks on journalists

The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has expressed concern over recent attack on two journalists, and has alleged that such attacks are increasing.

The association said it had reports that a journalist from newspaper ‘Dhiislam’ was attacked when he attended a show held at Thajudheen School.

‘’He was physically attacked and he was forced to delete the photos he took,’’ the MJA said in a press release. ‘’It is unacceptable and we condemn it.’’

MJA said Youth TV’s assistant manager Ibrahim Muaz was dismissed from his job, which it said was due to “a political issue.”

It also called everyone to provide opportunity for the conduct of independent journalism in the Maldives.

Muaz was dismissed after he allegedly leaked a picture of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group’s leader and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik sitting inside the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC)’s library going through the archives of videos of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The picture was leaked to local news outlet ‘Sun online’ and a source told the paper that Moosa visits the MNBC library very often and takes speeches and video clips of Gayoom and senior officials of the former government to the president’s office.

Sun online that time reported that in the picture Moosa was viewing the interview given by former president following the death of Evan Naseem in 2003, who died inside Maafushi Jail.

However, MNBC told the media that the dismissal of Muaz was not related to the leaked pictures of Moosa.