The Maldives backslides on press freedom

By Madeline Earp/CPJ Senior Asia Research Associate on July 10, 2012 3:55 PM ET

CPJ has been watching the Maldives with concern since its first democratically-elected President Mohamed Nasheed relinquished power in February following what he describes as a military coup. New President Mohamed Waheed Hassan says Nasheed's resignation was voluntary and refuted criticism that his rule marked a return to the ways of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a dictator notorious for jailing his critics, according to CPJ research.  Yet press freedom is deteriorating under Hassan with the rise of partisan political strife and religious conservatism. 

Hassan has delayed elections until July 2013, leading to chaotic pro-election demonstrations by Nasheed's party, the Maldivian Democratic Party, according to Agence France-Presse. Police detained private TV station Raajje TV's news chief Asward Ibrahim Waheed and Cable News Maldives journalist Ali Naseer during protests on Monday, according to local independent news website Minivan News and international news reports.

The Maldives Journalists Association reported that the two had been participating in the protests as activists, in what they cited as a breach of ethics, according to Minivan. But Raajje TV gave the website a statement which described Waheed's arrest as part of a pattern of police harassment. "The Maldives Police Service were discriminating against Raajje TV journalists and cameraman," the statement said, according to Minivan. "Raajje TV journalists have been forced to live in fear as they have increasingly become targets of attacks by the national security forces, particularly the police service."  Waheed told Minivan after his release, "[Police] were very verbally abusive. They said we have been waiting to get hold of a Raajje TV journalist, arrest him!"

The day of Mohamed Nasheed's ouster, religious activists raided the National Museum in a destructive attack on the Maldives' pre-Islamic heritage, destroying all but two or three valuable Buddhist artifacts, according to international news reports. That act set the tone for the rise of Islamic conservatives who had strongly opposed Nasheed's more secularist leanings, according to international news reports. This, too, has had an impact on the media, with journalists increasingly likely to self-censor on religious issues.  

They have reason for concern. Ismail Rasheed, a secularist who blogged about gay rights, survived having his throat slashed by unidentified assailants in June, according to local and international news reports. Rasheed also broke news on his now-defunct blog, including a July 2009 piece on an underage girl being kept as a concubine that resulted in death threats, he told Minivan. "You have to make a public announcement that you are a Muslim. Otherwise we will kill you," a gang threatened him days before he was knifed, according to Minivan News. He has left the country for his safety, international news reports said. President Hassan's office denied the attack stemmed from Rasheed's advocacy, telling AFP the blogger and former journalist was a gang member attacked by his rivals.

Reports of police brutality against journalists amid political chaos, and a vicious attack for writing about religious tolerance, are disturbing signs that the Maldives is backsliding on press freedom.  President Hassan must ensure that journalists are free to report if he wishes to distance himself from Gayoom's legacy and stabilize the nation for elections. 



The article was bias. U shud hv do yr research before publishing it. It seems u'v got yr only information from MDP sources. On that particular day Raaje Tv journalist was wearing shirt and ties. And when he was arrested he was wearing a black T shirt indicating that its pre planned to put forward these sort of deceivement .

the arrest of the raajje-tv news journalist is see on a video clip on you-tube, It looks very much like they arresting an enemy a dangerous criminals that could be carrying arms.
this is the only channel which bring unbiased news reports about the Coup regime, which is operating with limited number of staffs, so any cameraman in custody may result them not showing video clips on news. The other reason as said here is create fear among them.

mohamed Thakuru July 10, 2012 10:48:25 PM ET

maldives is far is never gonna reach the real democracy soon. we celebrate the independence day same from Iceland but u never imagine what is the deference we have. ?????

Visit [ Kula Yellow ] please!! You guys cn see police brutality againt Media and the unarmed strikers. we are fighting for democracy!

please click this link sees what the Maldivian police brutally we afraid.. civillian..

The Maldives Journalist Association is in favor of this coup government, it always have been supporting the dictator Gahyoom and his supporters. While Nasheed is in power he have respected press freedom and once in a million some paternalists may have been arrested, no matter what: if the journalist acts as a activist or in other way the MJA will say it was a police fault, now if one is arrested its his fault the Opposite! MJA president Hiriga Mohamed Zahir is corrupted, hes abusing his power, he is using his power for his own good! MJA is 100% Corrupted. We Maldives need NO MJA!

The above article is biased on facts. The ground reality is different and most of the comments made here are of the supporters of the above statement and links they refered are all biased sources. The reality is Rajje Tv is a mouth piece of opposition MDP and they speculate false information to support MDP supporters. Normally reporters of Rajje Tv are acting as MDP activists and while police dispers the crowd those Rajje Tv journalists confront them. Also note Minivan News is run by former president Naseeds brother and it is again a mouth piece of MDP. So when reporting such article do not report without knowing the ground reality. you may wish to varify the reality contact independent media institutions in the Maldives.

During the three decades of the dictatorship all the major newspapers were owned by the dictator and his cronies. The 3 years of democracy that followed, saw press freedom but a lot of the journalists, still employed by the same newspapers and news agencies, remained loyal to their old bosses and worked to defame the democratically elected government. However for the first time Maldives saw the rise and persistency of few new 'free' journalistic bodies since 2008, who were loyal only to the public. Rajje TV was one of them. Unfortunately these are the very journalists who are under the greatest threats since the change of power on February 7th this year. The main reason being that they are a great threat to the regime. Unlike the dictatorship years, fortunately with the rise of citizen journalism and individuals spreading news via the internet the news is getting out there irrespective of the arrests and threats. The sad thing however is that still on the islands outside the capital Male' a lot of what's happening remains unreported, stories untold and they suffer the most. But we should not forget that without a fight to maintain our well earned freedom and democracy, heavy censorship and repression of press freedom could return back to what it was during the dictatorship.

i have been in maldives to write a piece on tourism in March and have seen how the media is operating in Maldives. The media is been used as a political tool by supporters of 30 years ruler gayoom, and the stated Rajje TV is the only one trying to be impartial and they are under constant threats by dictator. MJA President Zahir was a known journalist for praising 30year ruler and now it seems he's heading the NGO. im saddened that IFJ and CPJ quote him and his comments which is biased. i have received their translated statements of 10 july and todays (11th july) one. when you compare you will know what i mean. by the way 10 july statement is not published by them.

heres a link how a journalist were handled coecause he was trying to cover what the police were doing to a protestor
Maldives police attacking civilians and journalistsMaldives police attacking civilians and journalists:

Kicked manhandled shouted at with filth old people pushed and shoved extremists booming with blessing from government police cp enjoying 4000usd rooms at coup ring leader gasim (villa hotels) champa tycoon molesting the idea of journalism and university deen , haveeru news ignoring when students abducted , the dictator for 30 yrs enjoying his made up world where he thinks he is prophet and child abusers and women beater sheiks loving the sight of rotestors being beaten. Welcome come back to year 1990's in the MALDIVES. Ps: independent institutions ignoring bideo footage of beatings. Sunny side for the devil. Maldives

Maldives backslides on press freedom, because Nasheed's [arty thugs are attacking journalists covering their protests. That's the truth. Actually journalists were harassed when he was president; not now. Now, things are getting better in this government of Stamford educated president Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

Please visit Maldives journalist association website before you write any thing referring to them. We Don't need a well know group or as association fights to the rights of the media to be inform anything without knowing the real picture.
MJA called journalists as well as the police to work in their legal boundaries obey the rule of law and best practice. Police must give space for journalist to report in the field independently. As well as journalists must not act as activists in the field even if they support for any political views. MJA Urges journalists to work professionally and not to go beyond their professional ethics.
I think CPJ must work professionally and address these issues vary carefully.

Stanford educated President? Really, like thats supposed to matter or make a difference? What bollocks! Things are getting better? You didnt see half the population on the streets, old people getting beaten, women getting sprayed with water canons, unarmed protesters getting pepper sprayed in the eyes just for standing with a placard. Better?

Fact this current govt came to power by a coup with the backing of corrupt elements within police and military, those loyal to former dictator maumoon. The people said no to Maumoon, no to Gasim, no to Yamin, no to Hassan Saeed, no to Jameel in 2008. How did these people come to power and how come either they or their people are now in top posts - unless it was a COUP? The people didnt want them, they crossed these people out. How can such an illegtimate govt be doing things for the better? That will be hilarious if the situation isnt so terribly sad.

Of course journalists are targeted and harassed. Whoever tries to expose and report on police brutality in this coup regime is targeted. Its no surprise - they will do whatever they can, use whatever force necessary, to maintain what they have got by force, not by people's will.

Nasheed is fooling international community with the help of his puppets world social media journalists. They don’t know the real story behind Nasheed's drama. During his Presidency he bribes to British Parliament members and offered jobs for their associates from the Maldives Government and his office.

His film the island president originally was created as the active president documentary, later he changed to a film about Maldives Environment, just because he was expecting international award. May I ask from the journalists what he have done to protect our enviroment? Nasheed destroyed our Country Economy, our Future, our Nationality, our Religion, our Culture. That is the reason Maldivian forced him to resign from his office on 7th Feb 2012.

After resigning he is playing every day drama and gathering drama slides near the Military boundary. And taking gathered evidence to Amnesty, European Union, UN agencies, His journalists are paid from the Christian missionaries and the bribes President has taken from Indian businesses like GMR, TATA. The truth is he was organizational a dictator and Christian missionary agent behind the Maldivian identity.

The fomer president Nasheed has blatently asked the MDP Machangolhi ward MP and the former charperson of MDP to find gang members to beat members of Maldives Police service who were descharging their legal duty on court order. In a recently publicised Audio clip recorded under a court order, Nasheed tells MP and former chairperson of MDP Mariya Ahmed Didi “My recommendation is to find some people to beat the police. I am very clear in what I am saying. Find some folks from Male who will be willing to beat the police. But what I don’t know is if we can find folks who would be willing to fight. If we can find enough folks who will, then I want to have the police beaten tonight”

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