Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan’s family has supported the opposition’s call for an independent inquiry into his disappearance a year ago in a Malé suburb.
Speaking to the press outside the Hulhumalé ferry terminal in Malé, Rilwan’s sister Aishath Fazna also announced plans to hold a march on August 8 to mark one year after his disappearance.
Rilwan was last seen entering the ferry terminal in the early hours of August 8 last year. He is believed to have been abducted at knifepoint outside his apartment building in Hulhumalé.
The police prevented the family from speaking to the press today, stating that permission is required from the state-owned Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) to speak to the press on its premises.
An independent inquiry into Rilwan’s disappearance and the brutal murder of MP Afrasheem Ali was proposed by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to pave the way for political reconciliation in ongoing talks with the government.
Rilwan’s family said the panel must be impartial and its composition must be decided on consultation with civil society groups. The inquiry must consider the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, including death threats to journalists and the rise of religious extremism in the Maldives, the family said.
Announcing a march on August 8 amidst police obstruction, the family said: “Taking to the streets is the only recourse we have. The people who have abducted our bother remain on the streets. As long as the perpetrators are not brought to justice, we are not safe.”
The police in April said it had received a DNA analysis of samples taken from cars suspected to have been used in the abduction. Family members have criticised slow progress in the investigation.
In a press statement, Rilwan’s family provided an update of activities conducted in the past year. A 5,500 signature strong petition calling for a speedy investigation was submitted to Majlis last year, but is stalled at a parliamentary committee. The family said they met with commissioner of police Hussein Waheed on Tuesday and last met with home minister Umar Naseer and the police investigating team in May.
The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) was asked to investigate police negligence in October last year, but the oversight body has yet to produce a report.
The family has also submitted a petition with the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances in September last year.