August 31, 2014
Friends and family of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan are petitioning the Majlis, posing a series of questions which the family believes “arose due to the negligence of the Maldives Police Services in searching for Rilwan.”
“These are also matters on which state institutions have so far conducted no work in order to reach the truth,” read the questions to be submitted to the national security committee – or 241 committee.
The petition calls on all relevant authorities to to provide answers for the following questions, urging thorough investigation into the following issues:
What is the standard operating procedure for police once a report, such as the abduction that took place on August 8 in Hulhumalé, is lodged? Did police follow these procedures following the said incident?
To what extent have police explored the possibility of a connection between the abduction reported on August 8 and the report of Rilwan being missing on August 13?
What work has been conducted to date in the search for Rilwan? What are the current concerns and thoughts of the police regarding the condition and situation Rilwan might be in at present?
While friends and family who are working together to search for Rilwan have received multiple threats via SMS and other mediums, to what extent have the police provided them with assistance and protection? Additionally, to what extent have police explored the possibility of a connection between those issuing such threats and the disappearance of Rilwan?
Organisers of the petition are currently holding a variety of events through which they aim to collect the 3000 signatures required before it can be submitted to parliament.
Last weekend (August 29 and 30) friends and family held an event at the Artifiical Beach where signatories of the petition were given free t-shirts printed with the message ‘Today Rilwan has been forcefully disappeared. Will it be me tomorrow?’
Additionally, the group provided a screen projection in the same area on Saturday night displaying video clips of messages from Rilwan’s family and friends.
According to Yameen Rasheed – long time friend of Rilwan who is among the volunteers at the event – the group has already gathered over 1500 signatures, while today (August 31)) volunteers are covering different areas of Malé in order to seek more signatures.
“Friends and family have made tremendous efforts to seek the public’s support in finding Rilwan. This is sadly in contrast with the continued silence from the state,” Yameen stated.
On Thursday, August 28, Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed was summoned to parliament’s national security committee.
While the meeting was held behind closed doors, police released a press statement on the same day, revealing some details of the investigation as it has proceeded to date.
According to the statement, police have questioned 198 persons and taken statements from 80, including neighbours of Rilwan in Hulhumalé. It also stated that 293 hours of CCTV footage from over 30 locations are being reviewed and analysed.
Police also claim to have searched all public and industrial areas of the island, as well as an additional 50 places for which they had obtained warrants.
The island of Farukolhufushi – formerly Club Faru resort – near Hulhumalé, vessels moored at Hulhumalé harbour, and a number of other local islands have also been searched, the statement continued.
Police also claim that in relation to the reports of an abduction in Hulhumalé on August 8, officers were doing forensic tests on samples taken from three different cars.
The statement did not say whether any concrete information was gathered from these interviews and other investigative measures.
Meanwhile, Minister of Defence Mohamed Nazim speaking at a DhiTV event held on Saturday (August 31) that the government is doing all necessary to find Rilwan, saying “there is hope that we will find him”.
Minister of Youth and Sports Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal has also tweeted a similar message, stating “Government has mobilised all necessary resources to find #Rilwan. The search should continue #findmoyameehaa”.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has also met with friends and family of Rilwan on Saturday, pledging assistance to the cause.
In a press conference held on Sunday, newly-elected MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz stated that the party will work from within the parliament and all other possible avenues to assist the search for the missing journalist.