August 21, 2014
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has slammed President Abdulla Yameen for a perceived lack of empathy when questioned about the missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.
When asked by a journalist about the matter upon his return from China yesterday, Yameen refused to comment, saying that the police and Home Ministry had already spoken on the matter.
“A journalist is missing, I think. So work will be done to find the journalist, right? And, God willing, that will be successful,” said Yameen.
The President’s Office had previously noted that the government is “deeply saddened and concerned” over Rilwan’s disappearance 13 days ago.
An MDP statement today, however, accused the president of being “irresponsible” in his reply to the question, and criticised him for failing to publicly express concern over the disappearance, now believed to have been an abduction.
With international concern growing over the disappearance of Rilwan – 28-years-old – the opposition party noted the example of US President Barack Obama, who addressed the nation yesterday following the murder of journalist James Foley.
“We note this is how a president in a democratic state becomes accountable to citizens,” read the statement.
The Home Ministry yesterday revealed the the Maldives National Defence Force had joined a team of 40 police officers in a search which now included the Hulhumalé lagoon.
Rilwan was last seen on a ferry heading to Hulhumalé in the early hours of August 8, while neighbours reported a man being forced into a car close to Rilwan’s apartment less than an hour later.
Ascribing the case “top priority” status, Home Minister Umar Naseer acknowledged reports of the abduction incident, but said police had not yet been able to establish a link to Rilwan.
The Home Ministry failed to inform Minivan News of the latest press conference, with officials later explaining that the oversight had not been intentional.
International groups including Reporters Without Borders and the United Nations Office for the Commissioner of Human Rights have expressed concern over Rilwan’s disappearance, calling for a thorough investigation.