Authorities in the Maldives should swiftly identify and bring to justice those responsible for the murder of blogger Yameen Rasheed, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Rasheed died after he was found with multiple stab wounds in the stairway of his apartment building yesterday, according to media reports.
Rasheed was transported to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, where he died while receiving treatment, according to Raajje TV. He had 16 stab wounds to his chest, neck, and throat, the independent broadcaster reported. Rasheed, 29, was known for his satirical political commentary on his blog, The Daily Panic, and on Twitter. Before his death, he had complained on social media that police had not acted in response to death threats he said he had received.
“Maldivian authorities should spare no effort to identify and prosecute Yameen Rasheed’s killers,” CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler said from Washington, D.C. “The Maldives must not become a country where bloggers can be murdered with impunity.”
The Maldives Police Service said today in a statement it was investigating the murder. In an April 23 statement, President Abdulla Yameen Abdulla Gayoom condemned the crime and sent condolences to Rasheed’s family.
Rasheed led the “Find Moyameeha” campaign after his friend and Minivan Newsreporter Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla was abducted in 2014. Minivan News later changed its name to the Maldives Independent. Rilwan is still missing.
Rasheed previously told The New York Times that radical groups in the Maldives targeted bloggers like him and Rilwan because they questioned the way Islam was practiced in the country. He also told the newspaper that almost all of the people behind the “Find Moyameeha” campaign had received death threats.
Rasheed’s last tweet, published April 21, was a red balloon emoji. Nearly 100 people gathered on a beach in Malé today to release red balloons in his memory, according to Raajje TV.
“[Rasheed was] tireless in his efforts to advocate for freedom of expression and stood up impartially for the rights of all,” Mariyath Mohamed, his friend and former journalist at the Maldives Independent, told CPJ. “Words of satire and honesty were the only weapons he ever wielded.”