The brutal murder of writer and blogger, Yameen Rasheed is a vicious attack on the right to freedom of expression in the Maldives. It must be investigated immediately and all those found responsible must be brought to justice.
A popular writer, critic and activist, 29 year-old Rasheed was found with multiple stab wounds on the stairway of his apartment in Malé on Sunday 23 April 2017. He died shortly after he was taken to hospital.
Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said:
This despicable murder must not go unpunished. Rasheed’s voice was vital and it has now been silenced. Attacks on independent thinkers have been on the rise across South Asia, and it is tragic to see this has happened now in the Maldives. PEN is appalled by this blatant attack on free expression and calls on Maldives authorities to hold an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into Rasheed’s murder and bring all those responsible to justice. The government’s silence will have a chilling effect on the country at large; they must do everything in their power to protect writers and bloggers. Protecting their rights is the state’s primary obligation.
Rasheed ran the popular daily blog the Daily Panic, in which he satirised the Maldives’ political and religious authorities. According to reports, he had reported receiving multiple death threats to the police in the past. Rasheed was also close friends with Ahmed Rilwan, a journalist who was abducted and disappeared in 2014 and has not been heard from since.
Rasheed’s killing comes as the space for public debate and free expression in the country shrinks, with reports of authorities frequently cracking down on journalists and activists.
It is the responsibility of the Maldives government to safeguard the fundamental right to free expression and protect those who exercise this basic right, not silence them.