Society & Culture
Abducted journalist’s writing offered in new book
‘What Rilwan Spoke About’ features a curated selection of translated articles.
The Maldivian Democracy Network has released a Dhivehi translation of curated blogposts from abducted Maldives Independent journalist Ahmed Rilwan.
According to the human rights NGO, the aim of the book is to combat misconceptions about Rilwan and to make his work accessible to his mother. Titled ‘What Rilwan Spoke About,’ the articles cover various topics including literature, history, politics, culture and commentary of current affairs.
The book was launched to coincide with the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Friends and family members read selections at a private launching event on Friday.
The book is available for MVR200 (US$13) from MDN and Meraki Coffee Rosters in Malé. All proceeds from its sale will go towards reprinting and funding activities for the #FindMoyameehaa campaign, MDN said.
Rilwan, an outspoken blogger and human rights defender, was forced into a car at knifepoint on August 8, 2014 outside his apartment building in Hulhumalé.
Two suspects were acquitted last August with the judge blaming glaring investigative and prosecutorial failures. Rilwan’s family said the not guilty verdict showed “at minimum state complicity and, at worst, active involvement in Rilwan’s abduction and disappearance.”
On the fifth anniversary of his disappearance last month, the chair of a presidential commission on deaths and disappearances said a “terrorist group” behind the abduction has been identified with sufficient evidence to prosecute.
However, the inquiry commission has to yet to seek charges against any suspects or reveal its findings as pledged.
Rilwan’s family have also expressed concern with Supreme Court Justice Abdulla Didi leaving the country. Didi, who was a criminal court judge at the time, had released two suspects in November 2014 on the orders of then-tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.
One of the suspects, Mohamed Suaid – who was arrested with security camera footage showing him tailing Rilwan – was allowed to leave the country in January 2015.
Despite possessing evidence of hostile surveillance, police previously refused to say that Rilwan was abducted. They denied any link between an abduction reported outside Rilwan’s apartment in Hulhumalé – seen by several eyewitnesses around the time he would have reached home – and his disappearance after Suaid followed him to the Hulhumalé ferry terminal in Malé.
The Maldives Independent has seen chatlogs from a cabinet Viber group from August 22, 2014 – two weeks after Rilwan was abducted – in which former president Abdulla Yameen told home minister Umar Naseer that there was “no need to be overwhelmed by Rilwan’s case.” Naseer replied, “Ok, noted sir.”
After nearly two years of refusing to reveal information, police confirmed Rilwan’s abduction in April 2016. It came just weeks before a UN panel launched an inquiry.
The police confirmed the findings of a private investigation commissioned by the Maldivian Democracy Network – which the authorities labelled as politically motivated at the time – that implicated radicalised gangs 45 days after the abduction.
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