The Office of President Mohamed Nasheed has condemned in the strongest possible terms the violent attack against Ibrahim Waheed (Asward), the head of news of Raaje TV, and the attacks on two TVM journalists covering the rally last night. The attack on Asward occurred in Male’ at approximately 1.15 am Saturday.
Mariya Didi MP President Nasheed’s spokesperson said “President Nasheed sees this is not just an attack upon one brave journalist but an assault on everyone who believes in democracy and media freedom.”
“Since last year’s coup, journalists have been repeatedly threatened, harassed and, in some instances, violently attacked by the police and by criminals. However, the authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the problem”
The Office calls for “a swift and thorough investigation” to bring the perpetrators to justice, regardless of their political affiliation.
Asward was attacked soon after the transmission of Raajje TV ended. The independent, but opposition leaning, TV station had been covering Friday’s night’s opposition protest, which called for free and fair elections in the Maldives. The attack comes within 24 hours of a call at PPM rally to “murder Maldivian Democratic Party supporters” also labeling the MDP a “terrorist organization.” Furthermore, the attack comes within a week of airing a critical report, repeated on Friday, by Asward on former President Gayyoom’s alleged corruption during his Presidency.
Since the unlawful transfer of power last year, there has been a sharp increase in violent crimes. But the police continues to pre-occupy themselves with politically motivated arrests, rather than investigating these violent crimes. Over 800 MDP supporters have been arrested in the past year. Yet, murderers, drug traffickers and gangsters are left to roam freely. Months have passed since brutal murder of the MP Dr. Afrasheem Ali and fatal attack on liberal blogger Hillath Rasheed, without perpetrators being found. Impunity enjoyed by the security forces is creating a culture of crime that is deeply concerning.
Press Freedom index of the Maldives fell 30 places to 103rd place this year. Fiji and Mali that suffered coup were also placed alongside the Maldives.
“Our prayers are with Asward and his family,” Mariya said.