The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed by the recent crackdown on freedom of expression in the Maldives, in the lead up to a planned opposition protest to be held on November 10.
According to IFJ sources, more than 40 arrests were made across the country between October 30-November 6, in relation to the Maldivian Democratic hosted protest, which the Maldives government has declared to be an unlawful assembly, and foreign journalists have been deported.
“We must stress that in such tense times it is vital to have a free, and healthily functioning media, and the IFJ urges the Maldivian government to establish protections for journalists and press freedom,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
Two foreign journalists, Phillip Wellman, an American national who worked for Minivan News and Graham Quick, an English photo-journalist working for Britain’s Observer newspaper, were reportedly asked to leave the country on November 4, in the lead up to the protest.
The unrest comes after a spate of arbitrary arrests and the intimidation and harassment of dissenting voices.
Of the five media practitioners sought after by the government for “disobedience to order”, three have been arrested, including political cartoonist, Ahmed Abbas, who is currently being detained in Maafushi Prison.
Local reports explained anyone found protecting these “traitors” would also be arrested.
“The government must understand that arresting and harassing journalists in an attempt to suppress free speech and control the media, will only result in the disintegration of democratic society,” the IFJ President said.
“Continued death threats and verbal intimidation against journalists will have a devastating effect on freedom of expression and the public’s right to know,” Warren said.
The IFJ, as the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, demands the immediate release of all detained journalists, and for the government to put an end to this terrible crackdown on fundamental human rights.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries