Media reports that the president of the human rights watchdog dismissed concerns over abuses in the Maldives have provoked widespread condemnation on Twitter.
Aishath Eenas, the president of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, reportedly lauded the overall human rights situation in the Maldives while speaking at an event to mark the international Human Rights Day on Thursday.
Soon after pro-government newspaper Avas published her comments, the hashtags #Kanboduvey [concerned], #MaKanboduvey [I am concerned] and #KanboduveyTho [are you concerned] started trending on Twitter.
The HRCM’s media official did not respond to request for comment at the time of going to press.
The Maldives Independent was not able to verify Eenas’ comments independently.
Social media users questioned the HRCM’s integrity and called for Eenas’ resignation, pointing to the government’s crackdown on freedom of speech, assembly and press, jailing of opposition leaders, and the disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan, a journalist with the Maldives Independent.
Rilwan’s family issued a statement condemning Eenas’ comments as dangerous.
Noting that the 29-year-old journalist has been missing for more than 850 days, and criticising the HRCM’s alleged lack of oversight into the police investigation, the family said: “It is dangerous and of great concern that [Eenas] has no concern over the human rights situation in the Maldives when Maldivian citizens safety and security in not guaranteed in the Maldives.”
“Because of the state’s negligence, everyone involved in the abduction of our son have left the Maldives. There is now no institution we can go to seek justice or one that can clarify what has happened to our son.”
— Luke (@Lucasjalyl) December 10, 2016
Translation: HRCM must see Rilwan’s mother’s concerns
Right to fair trial is an absolute human right. You can’t take away that right in any circumstance. If HRCM is not concerned then resign.
— Ali Hussain (@AleeVoice) December 10, 2016
Meanwhile initial news reports surrounding the controversy have been taken down.
The article titled ‘No concerns about human rights in Maldives: HRCM’, published on leading news website Mihaaru went missing within hours of publication.
Avas also changed its headline from ‘HRCM has no concerns about Maldives human rights situation’ to ‘We are seeing good things in the human rights area’.