Minivan News journalist Mariyath Mohamed has been named an “Information Hero” by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (May 3).
The 100 information heroes “are a source of inspiration to all men and women who aspire to freedom. Without their determination and the determination of all those like them, it would be simply impossible to extend the domain of freedom,” said RSF’s Secretary General Christophe Deloire.
The RSF commends Mariyath’s coverage of the growing influence of radical Islamist groups in the Maldives in the aftermath of the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.
“I feel both honoured and humbled to receive recognition of this scale. My intention has always been to bring controversial issues to the notice of the world, and prompt discussions on the issues both locally and globally. Due to the nature of the topics, there is often as much opposition, and threats, as support. I believe we cannot make a difference unless more of us take up the challenge and speak out,” Mariyath said.
During the first five months of 2013, she was constantly followed, threatened and attacked – on one occasion by men with a steel bar.
“Your sister has hanged herself and we can help you to do the same,” an anonymous letter slipped under her door in early 2013 read.
Mariyath’s coverage of a 15- year old rape victim who was sentenced to 100 lashes shocked the international community led to the sentence being rescinded.
The list of 100 information heroes comprises women and men of all ages (25 to 75) and 65 nations.
“This initiative aims to show that the fight for freedom of information requires not only active support for the victims of abuses but also the promotion of those who can serve as models,” the RSF said.
The list includes varied figures such as Anabel Hernandez, the author of a bestseller on the collusion between Mexican politicians and organized crime, Ismail Saymaz, a Turkish journalist who has been prosecuted a number of times for his reporting, and Gerard Ryle, the head of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists for contribution to the emergence of global investigative journalism.
Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, US citizens who were responsible for revealing the mass electronic surveillance methods used by the US and British intelligence agencies are also named.
In recent years, Maldivian journalists have come under growing threat with two journalists surviving murder attempts in 2013 and 2012.
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.
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.
The RSF has ranked Maldives 108 on its World Press Freedom Index in 2014, marking a decline in press freedom for the third consecutive year. 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.