Maldives police summons liberal bloggers over unspecified charges01 Jun, 2017
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses serious concern over the Maldives Police Service’s summons on May 29 to three liberal bloggers living abroad to present themselves for prosecution over unspecified charges. The IFJ demands immediate withdrawal of the summons.
The Maldivian police issued summons to Dr Azra Naseem, Muzaffar ‘Muju’ Naeem, and Hani Amir posting separate statements on Twitter. The statement asked the bloggers to present themselves to speak in their defense against unspecified allegations. The police said they would ask the Prosecutor General’s office to press charges and try them in absentia if they refused, the Maldives Independent reported.
Dr Azra Naseem, 45, is living in Ireland since 1998 and is currently a research fellow at the Dublin City University. Muju Naeem, 37, is living in self-imposed exile at an undisclosed location and Hani Amir, 27, is studying in Australia. All three of them are known for their critical writing on Maldivian society and politics; and their secular views. Naeem, while talking to the Maldives Independent, called the police summons ‘an ongoing witch hunt’ while Amir believed that they were targeted for promoting secularism.
The summons came five weeks after the brutal killing of liberal blogger Yameen Rasheed, who was stabbed to death at his residence on April 23. Despite widespread calls for justice, the Maldivian police is yet to prosecute any one despite arresting six suspects. Similarly, the Maldivian police is clueless about liberal journalist Ahmed Rilwan, who went missing in August 2014.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ is deeply concerned by the act of the Maldives Police Service to summon three liberal bloggers without any specific charges at a time when liberal bloggers and journalists are facing life-threatening situations in the country. Instead of focusing on the investigation into the killing of blogger Yameen Rasheed and disappearance of journalist Ahmed Rilwan, the police is focusing on harassing liberal writers. Such acts should immediately stop and the summons be withdrawn. The IFJ urges the Maldivian government to ensure justice to victimized bloggers and journalists, and ensure a safe environment for them.”