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IFEX MEMBERS DECRY ARRESTS OF JOURNALISTS, PROTESTERS

IFEX members are calling attention to censorship in the Maldives, where writers and journalists are among more than 100 people who have been arbitrarily detained and allegedly beaten and tortured following peaceful protests against the government in the capital, Malé.

In the past two weeks, authorities have detained Ibrahim Rasheed, the managing director of the weekly "Adduvas", and a journalist with the daily "Aafathif," says Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). Minivan News, an opposition online newspaper, has stopped publishing after government officials pressured its printer to refuse to work with the newspaper, and an arrest warrant has been issued against its editor, Aminath Najeeb. Documentary filmmaker Jennifer Latheef, whose father has been exiled because of his pro-democracy activism, has
received threats from the government.
RSF has also joined ARTICLE 19, International PEN and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in voicing concern over the detention of Mohamed Nasheed, a writer and chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who was arrested on 12 August 2005 after taking part in a demonstration calling for democratic reform.

Nasheed is a former journalist for the magazine 'Sangu' who has been detained in the past for criticising the government.

On 22 August, he was charged with sedition and terrorism for statements the government claims he made in July which called for "violent overthrow", according to Reuters. The MDP says the detention of Nasheed and others is an attempt by President
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to maintain power despite promises to democratise the island nation's autocratic political system.
Gayoom is one of Asia's longest-serving rulers, having been in power since 1978. While the government now allows the formation of political parties, there is still
no sign of multi-party elections.
Gayoom keeps a tight rein on the media, says RSF. The state-run radio station, The Voice of the Maldives, and state television sing the praises of Gayoom and his associates. The daily newspaper "Aafathif" belongs to his brother-in-law while
Gayoom himself supervises the "Miadhu Daily", RSF says. The press rarely covers the activities of his opponents. Authorities also block access to 30 websites based abroad and jam the broadcasts of a London-based radio station.
Visit these links:
- International PEN:
http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/dev/viewArticles.asp?findID_=364
- ARTICLE 19: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/letters/maldives-17.08.05.pdf
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=14712
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=3320&Language=EN
- Amnesty International: http://web.amnesty.org/library/eng-mdv/index
- Maldives Dissident Recounts Tale of Imprisonment:
http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=11994
- Reuters: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/COL329600.htm
(Photo of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom courtesy of RSF)

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