Supporters of former President Nasheed gather outside the Indian High Commission where Nasheed sought refuge to evade arrest. (AP/Ahmed Mujthaba)
Supporters of former President Nasheed gather outside the Indian High Commission where Nasheed sought refuge to evade arrest. (AP/Ahmed Mujthaba)

Maldives journalists assaulted in political violence

New York, February 25, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the recent string of attacks against journalists in the Maldives and calls on all sides in the political conflict to halt violence against the media.

On February 22, Ibrahim “Aswad” Waheed, head of news for the private, pro-opposition Raajje TV channel, was struck on the head with an iron rod by unknown assailants near an artificial beach area in the capital Male. Waheed was taken to a local hospital after losing consciousness and suffering serious injuries to the head and face, media reports said. He has since been transferred to a hospital in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo for urgent medical care, according to a press release issued by the Maldives Journalists Association.

According to the release, in a separate episode, deputy editor Aishath Liza and reporter Aminath Saani of the public service broadcaster Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) were also attacked in the capital on February 22. A packet containing corrosive industrial fluid was thrown on the two women, resulting in serious burns. It is unclear exactly where the attack took place.

“We condemn these vicious attacks on reporters and call on all parties to do their utmost to ensure that journalists are able to work safely,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz.

The Maldives Journalists Association said all three journalists had received threats through social media and other means of communication.

The violence follows a February 20 attack on Rilwan Moosa, a cameraman for privately owned Villa Television (VTV), while he was covering a demonstration organized by the opposition Maldives Democratic Party, media reports said.

CPJ research shows that journalists in the island nation have faced numerous attacks since elected President Mohamed Nasheed was ousted a year ago. Nasheed accused his successor, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, and former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of having orchestrated a coup. Since then, the country’s political crisis has steadily deepened, with the government promising fresh elections this year but Nasheed facing legal charges linked to his time in office. India was drawn further into the crisis this month when Nasheed sought refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male, according to international news reports. News coverage in the Maldives has reflected the country’s political polarization.

  • For more data and analysis on the Maldives, visit CPJ’s Maldives page here.