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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Maldives: The difficulties faced by independent newspapers

The example of the Minivan newspaper shows the difficulties independent newspapers are facing in countries where the situation of press freedom is critical.

In July 2005, after having waited for over one year, Minivan has been granted a license to print newspapers in the Maldives. A daily newspaper called Minivan and a weekly newspaper called Vagutu have been registered. The company already runs a radio station and web sites from abroad. Already then the website Minivannews.com was citing an industry insider saying, "The government may well allow lots of newspapers to register but those that do – and are critical of the government – will find themselves constantly in court with huge fines. It’s a subtle way to censor the press whilst projecting to the international community that you have press freedom because all these newspapers are granted licenses."  

The new newspaper successfully launched on July 26th. As Minivannews.com reported on July 27 the first edition was sold out in 2,5 hours. Reactions were generally positive like "Finally, we have a newspaper that expresses the true sentiments of Maldivians? or ?so refreshing to have a newspaper without Maumoon?s (president Maumoon Abdul Gaymoon) picture on it", reports Minivannews.com. Though there is said to be also criticism, as one reader said the "headline article (Mohamed Nasheed, head of the Maldivian Democratic Party, opposed to the government) was very similar to how Haveeru (a regime-owned daily) places the first article about Maumoon.?

In the middle of August Friends of Maldives, a UK-based NGO, reported that as part of growing tensions "threats against the printer of Minivan Newspaper the only Independent newspaper in the Maldives results in his refusal to print the newspaper (on August 15). The editor is a target of threats and intimidation but insists on printing her newspaper on a normal printer using A4 paper."

Yesterday Minivannews.com reported that six articles of the paper were sent from the Ministry of Information to the Attorney-General for criminal prosecution. The prosecutions could lead to prison sentences for many of the paper's senior workforce including Aminath Najeeb, the editor. A source close to the paper said on Minivannews.com: "Even if Gayoom doesn't outright ban the paper, he appears determined to render it ineffective by ensuring that the staff are simply unable to go to work... either because they are in jail or because they are being hauled up to the police or courts for hours every day."

Sources: Minivan (July 18), Minivannews.com (July 27), Friends of Maldives (August 18), Minivannews.com (September 21)

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on September 22, 2005 at 04:45 PM in o. Ethics and Press Freedom | Permalink


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I think this is a very unfair and a sided site. Maybe working for money. it has articles that are not true. i am a maldivian and there are lot of maldivians like me who believe and know what the truth is. All the incidents said in these articles are incidents that have happened but they are mixed with so many lies that they are no longer true at all!. Do not try to exploit the minds of these peace loving maldivians.
A maldivian
Loves Peace!

Posted by: Ahmed at Sep 25, 2005 5:14:31 AM

I thank editorsweblog.org for allowing this space for Maldives. I am the Director of the IntGroup for Maldives. I realise how important it is to have such a forum live, so we could read comments from the locals.

No matter how slang or rude the language that is used by the locals, the more rude it is, it is a clear indication that the situation inside the country is increadibly bad.

I call upon the President of the Maldives, to quickly and unconditionally submit to the will of his people, resign and make way for fair and democratic elections.

You have been paid for twenty seven years as head of state. Enough. they dont want you anymore !! why dont you step down. I would really like to know that drive less the shame and greed thats prompting you to hold on to power at the cost of the people that do now want you in power.

Posted by: Dr.George Ulig at Sep 23, 2005 11:46:03 PM

The only reason that maumoon doesnt outright ban these newspapers is international pressure.He is saying look there is freedom of press while putting the staff of these newspapers and magazines throught all sorts of pressure. One of the dissident magazine had their editor jailed for 3 weeks without charge.While different contributers to minivan gets summoned to the police regularly. There will be no true freedom of speech or press until Maumoon resigns and paves the way for a government loyal to the people and ready to serve the people is elected.Right now freedom of speech and press exist sort of, its just that after the words come out thats where your freedom ends, with you inside an 8 ft cell.

Posted by: M Muhamadhu at Sep 23, 2005 6:04:53 PM

I am writing this to experess my heart-felt gratitude for the operators of this web site! Thank you a lot for opening an opportunity for Maldivians to express their status of living and mind internationally! I call the government of Maldives to stop its tyranny immediately and allows a true democracy take its place in the country!

Posted by: Dr. Joseph at Sep 23, 2005 3:29:44 PM

Some of us thought that when the new Information minister took oath he would realy be on people's side.

Which infact is not the plan, The real plan for appointing a high profile lawyer (who is loyal to the regime) is to find a way to charge these inocent reporters.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Maldivian justice system. “Failing to do justice and regularly doing injustice”

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom will play the dirtiest political game ever in the history of Maldives and the world tooo.. if you compare the size.

In the mean time the classic Dictator is in the UK meeting Islamic religous ppl...

REASON: The British Goverment seems to be in favour of Friends of Maldives rather than the Dictator.

The Answer I leave to those many people who could possibly read what I wrote.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom will not give up unless he gets enough preasure from the Interntional Community, which infact is only watching and doing nothing.

And the people of Maldives are tooo afraid to do any thing possible.

I wish we can all suspend our daily routines and come out on the Streets for a Freedom Rally.

I wish the International community could at least help us doing this.

I wish the MDP could help us to do this.

But who care's about my wish.


Posted by: Hussein at Sep 23, 2005 10:11:00 AM