One hundred days of sorrow: missing moyameehaa

“You run back and forth listening for unusual events,
peering into the faces of travelers.
“Why are you looking at me like a madman?”
I have lost a friend. Please forgive me.” - Rumi


by Azra Naseem

Sunday will be the 100th day since Ahmed Rizwan (Rilwan) Abdulla, @moyameehaa, was abducted. Time has dragged, weighted down by the burden of not knowing. Between then and now much, yet nothing, has happened. The posters brightening a thousand walls with Rilwan’s smile have faded with the sun and dissolved with the rain. Five thousand men and women put pen to paper, ‘Good Sir, kind Madam, please find Rilwan,’ they begged. At least as many thousand Tweets have echoed round the world: ‘#Findmoyameehaa, #Findoyameehaa.’ Hundreds of friends and supporters have marched on Male’s streets with the question: ‘Where is Rilwan?’ Scores have met many miles away in Melbourne and in New York, asking the same question.

Rilwan’s mother has said, to any ears that would listen, ‘I am poor, but my love makes Rilwan a priceless treasure. Please find him for me.’ Hundreds have felt her tears roll down their faces. ‘He is alive,’ Rilwan’s father has insisted. His mind has been far from the assorted fruits and vegetables he sells at the local market. ‘How do you know?’ ask customers who have stopped to listen. Without batting an eyelid he has said, ‘I asked a clairvoyant.’

It may seem odd, approaching a clairvoyant to look for a son abducted in this technologically advanced twenty first century. But when the natural world makes no sense, the supernatural often appears the only consolation. In its investigation into Rilwan’s disappearance, Maldives Police Service (MPS) has been more than negligent; it has been willfully perverse. In hundred days the MPS has given almost as many excuses for making zero progress in the search for Rilwan: nobody was abducted; it was a woman who was abducted; it was not an abduction, it was a rape; Rilwan ‘disappeared himself’; Rilwan is an apostate, not worth looking for; Rilwan is playing an elaborate joke; Rilwan is writing his own missing persons reports; Rilwan was abducted by gangs, there are no gangs in the Maldives; we have arrested someone, we have let him go; Rilwan was abducted by violent extremists, there are no violent extremists in the Maldives; Rilwan is not missing, it is all a political drama; no comment; Rilwan who?

Rilwan the journalist who examined the many maladies of Maldives. Rilwan the teenage blogger who gave a damn about the poor and the wronged. Rilwan the ex-radical who understood the extremist mindset better than all official strategists. Rilwan the story-teller whose #FerryTales shortened the distance between Male’ and Hulhumale’ more than any bridge can. Rilwan the well-mannered young man who respected the elderly. Rilwan the friend who listened. Rilwan the writer who inspired. Rilwan the aspiring poet who read Rumi and Neruda. Rilwan the thinker who sought spiritual succor in meditation, Nusrat Fatah Khan and the Quran. Rilwan the friend who laughed; the brother who baked; the uncle who played; the son who loved. Rilwan the Maldivian who cared.

The reasons why Rilwan’s friends, family and supporters want him found are the very reason the authorities want him to remain missing. What Rilwan abhorred in our society, our rulers cheer loudly.

Rilwan wanted a society free of corruption; our leaders revel in it. He wanted to see Jihadist ideologies become less attractive to young Maldivians; our religious clerics encourage it while the government turns a blind eye. He wanted gang violence to have less power over society; senior government officials outsource authority to favoured gang members. Rilwan wanted equal justice for all; our rulers want judgement and punishment to be arbitrary, wielded by them how and when they please. He wanted a society where citizens shared its wealth more equally; our rulers want all wealth to be their own.

Rilwan wanted us all to think more deeply about how to live a more meaningful, spiritual and equal existence; it is the antithesis of all that our rulers desire. For the moment we begin to think more deeply is the moment we begin to regret voting them in. It would be the beginning of our demand for change, the precursor to saying: ‘Enough. I will not let you rule me anymore.’

If the past 100 days has made anything clear, it is that this government will do all it can to stop Rilwan from being found. It is in its interests to do so. The past 100 days has also made something else very clear: we must do all we can to find out what happened to Rilwan. It is in our interests to do so. Our pursuit of a more just, equal and democratic society, as dreamed of by Rilwan, cannot begin if we forget Rilwan’s abduction and the government’s role in it, either by taking him or covering it up.

Let’s not stop our pressure on the authorities to #FindMoyameehaa. We owe it to Rilwan, and to our future.

    The Madness of Maldives

    Source: The Chive

    By Azra Naseem

    There is a small island of about two square kilometres, called Male’, in the Indian Ocean. It  is capital of the Maldives, a 1200 island archipelago inhabited by about 300,000 people known as Maldivians. If there was a psychiatric facility on this earth that could section a generalised population, Maldivians would be among the first to be locked away for life. Frequent electric shocks and, wherever possible, lobotomies, may be recommended.

    The official story of Maldives starts with a sea monster that convinced a population of Buddhists, meditating in spectacular natural beauty, to give up their quest for inner peace in this life for the beautiful afterlife that Islam promises. That was back in 1153. Come the 21st Century and the Maldives has become a place where religion, ideology, greed, ignorance, astounding natural beauty and hope against all hope combine to form a life lived on a precarious balance between madness and civilisation.

    It is very much a society organised top-down, and the top—where the creme de la creme of the strange have risen—is a good place to begin examining it from.


    The present Maldives is ruled by a man who did not know how to smile until he became The Ruler. Now that he is president, he smiles as widely—and with the same disconcerting effect—as The Joker.


    His 2013 presidency campaign and party colours are a deep pink for ‘Asuruma’ or the Four O’clock Flower, and his presidential victory convoy comprised a pink top-down convertible in which a man stood behind him jiggling ‘breasts’ made from painted coconut shells. His party is known as the Progressive Party of Maldives (or Pee-Pee-Em). This kind of ‘progressive’ would be hard to find anywhere else in the world.


    The confounding thing is that the people behind The Ruler are the same people who would also support the Islamic State. Even more astounding, if possible, is the fact that the ordinary Maldivians who proudly stand behind The Ruler in his pink convertible, Joker grin and coconut-titted cheer-leaders supporters are the same people who would hang (or preferably, these days, behead) someone like, say Conchita Wurst, ‘to protect OUR MALDIVIAN ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES!’. A man with coconut tits in a pink convertible hailing the new president is somehow ‘progressive’; Conchita is not.

    In the hierarchy of life on this island, after the President come the security forces: the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and the Maldives Police Service (MPS). There are some close resemblances and stark differences between the two men who lead the institutions. Mohamed Nazim, who heads the MNDF was a key player in the coup that was not a coup; Hussein Waheed who leads the MPS, meanwhile, slept through it all. Both men love adulation. Nazim is like The Wolf in Pulp Fiction—he fixes everything. He was called in to ‘fix’ democracy before it was broken on 7 February 2012; he fixed US-Maldives bilateral relations real good; he hooked Maldives up with China even as India looked on with her mouth open; he fixed the airport and the GMR saga, Nexbiz, IGMH, the transport sector; and he ‘fixed’ Minister Shakeela.

    While Nazim is The Fixer, Hussein Waheed is The Waster. Policing in the Maldives has never been this dismal. It is as if Mr Waheed is sleeping through his job, like he slept through the coup. The less psychotic among the Maldivian population have been mourning, for 63 days now, the unexplained disappearance of one of its sanest citizens: Moyameehaa, Ahmed Rilwan (also known as Rizwan). The police, under Waheed have not answered a single question about his abduction in the two months that have gone past. Whatever arrests they have made, they have done reluctantly, and released with eagerness.

    The MPS is a different kind of police force, with an approach to policing quite unique in this century. For instance, among the things it has been busy doing while ignoring all serious crime include: holding workshops all over the country talking to adolescents—or in their words ‘children of marriageable age’—about ‘being prepared’ [for what, it is not known]; ‘creating awareness about police work among pre-school children’; arresting and immediately releasing drug-delaers; ‘apprehending an individual possessed by six bottles of fish paste’; charging a man who committed an act of terror with ‘stealing a CCTV camera’ and letting him go straight afterwards; and lifting a man sleeping under a coconut tree back to safety under his own roof.

    The Best of MPS (and the Maldives criminal justice system in general) came last week when the top dogs [Top Polis Ahmed Athif, Prosecutor General Muhuthaz Muhsin, Deputy Attorney General, a High Court judge and some businessman] went to Los Angeles to share their knowledge on [wait for this] ‘Using Intelligence to Assure Public Safety’—at the Oracle OpenWorld 2014. Of course, the entire saga was played out on social media, courtesy of polis Athif, who goes by @Hammettz 


    Intelligence was nowhere to be found as pictures soon emerged of The Boys hanging out some where totally surrounded by alcohol. Nothing wrong with this except that these Boys have made it their life’s work to jail for years the Maldivians who do the same thing back home on the island.


    As for public safety, it was not long before The Boys—who went on an ‘LA road trip’ after an Aerosmith concert [seriously, who does that??]—were robbed of all their possessions, including their laptops and mobile phones, which they had left in the backseat of the car. Maldivian law enforcement abroad.



    Through it all, CP Waheed travels the length and breadth of the archipelago strutting like a cock, expecting devotion and finely cooked chicken from pseudo Island Chiefs and Pee-Pee-Em supporters in their pink shirts [barely recognisable sans the coconut tits].

    This is the cream of Male’s society today. Along with them come the MPs with their grossly inflated salaries equivalent to those in Sweden and their total refusal [except for a handful of MPs] to stand up for the people whom they are said to represent. Over 5000 Maldivian people signed a petition and submitted it to the Majlis asking it to seriously examine the police’s inability to investigate the abduction of Rilwan. The petition has been ignored. PPM MPs, in fact, obstructed any parliamentary oversight in the matter. The leader of PPM’s Parliamentary Group, Ahmed Nihan, has far more pressing matters to deal with, like the phenomenon of going grey overnight. Since the change which seems to have occurred a few full moons ago, he has ben unable to stop taking selfies, posing with an endless stream of other narcissistic members of the clan whose enormous egos [among other things] fill the computer screens of anyone on social media.


    What is left to say then when we leave the cream that has curdled to top and come to the ordinary citizen? These people at the top, they represent the majority of Maldivians. 51 percent, if we must be specific. That 51 percent must be happy; they laugh along anyway. They clap in adulation and genuflect with glee. Of the remaining 49 percent a substantial number proudly declare themselves ‘colourless’/apolitical/disinterested/’citizens of good etiquette’. In other words, they won’t do a thing to change a thing.

    That leaves a minuscule minority who, for being different among such madness, come to call themselves [or be called] insane; and live with the constant fear that any moment now they would be bundled on to a Maldivian Narrensciff that sails the ocean in the middle of the night, and be made to disappear—perhaps never to return.


      by Aishath Velezinee

      A private investigation by Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security into the disappearance of Rilwan (aka Rizwan, @moyameehaa), a Maldivian journalist missing since August 8, 2014, has not led people any closer to finding him nor has it firmly established how he disappeared. Instead, the PI report has opened up the politics of Rilwan’s disappearance.

      Today, the interwoven complexities of gangs, religious extremism, politics and organised crime—and the incapacity of law enforcement to address these issues—cannot be ignored. Reaction of politicians, gangs and the Maldives Police Services (MPS) to the Private Invesitgator’s report—commissioned by the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) and released on Monday—emphasise these issues. It is starkly obvious in the long-drawn unproductive “search for Rilwan” by the MPS, as much as in their reluctance to speak with or meet the press.

      The Private Investigation

      The PI report, in fact, has very little new information to disclose. From CCTV footage where Rilwan is last spotted and material already in public domain, the PI identified Ahmed Shiran Saeed and another unnamed man, both said to belong to Kuda Henveiru gang as suspects in Rilwan’s disappearance. Video showing “evidence of possible hostile surveillance being undertaken by two known gang members” is cited as evidence.

      Ibrahim Firaq and Aalif Raoof (Arliph Rauf) are named as owners of the only two cars registered in the Maldives that fits the description of a car involved in an abduction that reportedly took place outside Rilwan’s residence at the approximated time of his disappearance. MPS had earlier revealed that two cars had been brought under police custody in relation to Rilwan’s disappearance, but later denied Rilwan was the victim of abduction. There is no report of any other person who disappeared without trace at the time or on the date of Rilwan’s disappearance. So far MPS has not provided the identity of the victim of abduction.

      A fifth man named in the report is Ismail Abdul Raheem, a known extremist previously involved in religiously-motivated violent attacks, who had reportedly stalked Rilwan earlier. No direct connection to Rilwan’s disappearance is noted.

      The report draws no conclusions except for ruling out suicide or voluntary disappearance. On motives, too, the report has no conclusive information, and considers the possible involvement of major criminal gangs, politicians and religious extremists, referring to available information and past activities.

      Three gangs, Buru, “Bosnia”, and Kuda Henveiru are named as possible sources to follow-up. The report cites a series of recent “abductions” of the administrators of a Facebook group called “Colourless”. These cases were not reported to MPS by the victims though they have shared their experience on being invited to speak. They were harassed, intimidated and at least one was physically man-handled by gangsters and religious extremists working together. The alleged gang leader, Muaz, has not denied being involved, in fact he justified his action to his comrades as a “deserved shaking up”.

      Possible link to powerful politicians, including government ministers, who reportedly support and use radicalised gangs for personal and political ends is reported as having been brought up by a number of sources. Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, and Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim are named as influential and corrupt politicians, and the name of former Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim comes up as having possibly attempted “to draw political capital” from Rilwan’s disappearance:

      Following the Subject’s disappearance, in August 2014, it was reported that Ahmed NAZIM, the former Deputy Speaker contacted this reporter and informed him that the Subject had been working on a story to expose the TM  [Tourism Minister Adeeb], for corrupt activity. It was suggested that if Haseen were able to link the Subject’s disappearance with the TM, NAZIM would provide him with evidence of the TM’s corruption.

      NazimAdeebThe public alliance of Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb and their shared antagonism of Home Minister Umar Naseer is also noted. Further, Islamic Minister Mohamed Shaheem and Home Minister Umar Naseer are named as having met gang members led by Muaz Hammer aka Gut Mua who is said to have initiated the meetings to discuss their concern “on the growth of secularsm” in the Maldives.

      MinisterMeet1The so-called religiously motivated “abductions” of the “Colourless” administrators took place after these meetings which were reported by the Government as “concerned youth” having met the ministers.


      The PI report notes they had no access to forensic evidence, and is predominantly based on information from unnamed witnesses and stakeholders gathered from field research using the snowball approach and the cross referencing of these. The purpose of the report, as stated, is “to balance theory and conjecture with fact”.

      The Ongoing Search for Rilwan by MPS

      The last update from MPS on the investigation into Rilwan’s disappearance on September 16, 2014, translated into English by MPS, reported:

      • The investigation has determined that no one saw Rizwan in Hulhumale’ after 0000 hours on the 7th of August 2014 and that he did not speak to anyone either.

      • CCTV footage shows him entering the Hulhumale’ Ferry Terminal in Male’ at about 0055 hours on the 8th of August and an individual told the Police that they spoke to him while on the ferry.

      • The Police have not found any conclusive evidence linking Rizwan’s disappearance to the incident which occurred near his home on the night of the 7th and the fire in Hulhumale’, which took place on the 15th of August has not been linked to the case either.

      • Additionally, the Police have summoned and interviewed other individuals caught on the CCTV footage of Rizwan that night.

      • About 1235 hours of footage from 157 cameras from 79 locations have been obtained and is being analyzed and the footage points to him last being seen at 0055 hours on the 8th of August at the Hulhumale’ Ferry Terminal.

      • Additionally, 521 minutes of dives have been conducted and a total area of 267197.5 square kilometers have been searched under water, along with 84 vessels.

      • 9 places of residence in Male’ have been searched and about 139 locations in Hulhumale’, including places of residence, warehouses and garages, have been searched.

      • Some guest houses in the islands are also being searched.

      • A total of 128 individuals have been questioned and had their statements taken while 387 individuals were questioned and had information recorded, along with 192 individuals who lived in 77 apartments in Hulhumale’.

      Earlier, on September 4, 2014, MPS had revealed two cars were being held with Court Orders in case of disappeared journalist and forensic samples were to be sent abroad for testing; and that passports of four individuals were being held.

      MPS reaction to the PI report

      On Tuesday evening, MPS reacted strongly to the PI report with a loaded and highly political 13-paragraph press release. The Police statement declared MDN had acted irresponsibly, with intent to mislead the public and to achieve a specific political purpose. It went on to say MDN had committed a “lowly act” with the purpose of defaming certain politicians, and that it intended to shape public opinion a certain way. It also said MPS had formed a special task force and was investigating Rilwan’s disappearance.

      The statement condemned MDN revealing the identity of suspects saying MDN had violated the human rights of the said individuals, diminishing their human dignity, creating public hatred against them and putting their safety at risk. MPS also noted that the said individual had “already lodged a complaint asserting MDN release of their personal information had put them in danger”.

      It further stated that MPS had noted “some parties are attempting to gather information on the ongoing investigation of MPS through Rilwan’s family and others”, and went on to declare that MPS did not believe that the PI’s work, carried out “in the name of searching for Rilwan” with the backing of some persons, was a legitimate activity. It also declared that the MPS will investigate the investigation, and take necessary action against “those behind” the PI report.

      MPS also noted they are professionally trained in advanced countries, naming United States, United Kingdom and Australia, and asserted that they follow international best practice in all investigations and are proficient in investigating crimes ranging from petty crimes to terrorism.

      RilwanMarchLast Sunday, following MDN’s announcement of the pending release of the PI’s findings, Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed—who at the time was visiting Haa Dhaal Atoll with all the pomp of a politician—appeared to be reacting strongly against the #FindMoyameehaa movement led by friends and family of Rilwan.

      HusseinWaheedDoAddressing the community, CP Hussain Waheed criticized the public demanding action from Police and is quoted as saying “MPS will not be swayed by people’s demands” and “MPS must not be infenced by any person or a group of persons”. Indirecty he referred to a public rally, #SuvaaluMarch (or Question March), led by family and friends of Rilwan demanding answers to questions related to the police investigation into the disappearance of Rilwan. Opposition leader, former President Mohamed Nasheed, and some senior politicians of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had joined the rally to which family of Rilwan had personally written and invited all major parties to join.

      MPS response to President Nasheed’s interview to The Independent (UK) was similar, where instead of being concerned and attempting to investigate MPS chose to categorically deny Nasheed’s claim of extremism in the security force in a press release on September 18, 2014. The statement went on to appeal to Nasheed not to defame the security forces “for popularity or public support”.

      Reactions to PI Report

      NihanTweet1Following the release of the PI report, the parliamentary majority leader, MP Ahmed Nihan of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), publicly ridiculed the #FindMoyameehaa effort with a tweet mocking the attempts to find him and belittling Rilwan’s disappearance. He then went on to shamelessly defend his action despite the wording on the poster he tweeted which contradict his claim it was an innocent act, and argued: “Parliament have done its part by probing the matter through its proper channels. 241 Committee deliberated.” Online supporters of PPM carried the same line, mocking and taunting those concerned about Rilwan’s disappearance.


      In fact, the parliamentary 241-Committee mandated to look into national security services, a permanently closed committee without access to media or public is reported to have passed the case of Rilwan’s disappearance, raised by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), to a sub-committee. The sub-committee has issued no reports and the 241-Committee has not convened since.

      Overnight, new twitter accounts sprung up to harass those who speak up to find Rilwan. This is in addition to the regular supporters of government online who continue to see Rilwan’s disappearance a laugh.

      President Yameen Abdul Gayoom who has previously refused to comment on Rilwan’s disappearance remained silent, as did the Home Minister Umar Naseer who was outspoken on gangs, drugs and serious crime and their connection to President Yameen in the lead up to 2013 elections. Nasheed, meanwhile, accused leaders of Adhaalath Party, Islamic Minister Mohamed Shaheem and Sheikh Imran of radicalizing youth and promoting extremism through indoctrination and encouragement of vigilante action in the name of Islam. Nasheed went on to claim Rilwan is believed to have been abducted by a radicalised youth.

      “Don’t do this to our youth. Don’t make them do all these vile deeds after picking them out individually and leading them astray,” the opposition leader appealed at an MDP rally in Male’ coinciding with the release of the PI report after the scheduled open air rally had been postponed twice due to bad weather.

      MDP MP Eva Abdulla who spoke of Rilwan’s disappearance at the same rally received a text message after the event threatening a suicide attack during the next MDP gathering; and vowing to “kill off” MDP members and to fight “to the last drop of blood.”

      Meanwhile, Executive Director of MDN, Shahindha Ismail and lawyer of Rilwan’s family Mushfique Mohamed are openly receiving threats, and it requires huge imagination to envision MPS acting on these threats to guarantee the safety of their targets. “Aleef Thuththu Ec”, seen in the photo below asking for information on Shahindha and Mushfique saying “they need to be disappeared”,  is said to be a brother of the Aalif named in the PI report as registered owner of one of the red cars.

      AleeThutthu AleeThutthu 2

      Gangs, Politicians and Law Enforcement

      A rapid assessment of gangs in Male’, published by Asia Foundation in 2012, estimates between 20 and 30 different gangs are active in Male’, an island barely in total land area, surrounded by the ocean. It is estimated that there are 50 to 400 members in each of these gangs. 



      Income for many of these gangs are said to come from “exchanges with political actors or business people.” The report found payment is usually in the form of money, but that sometimes alcohol would be provided for gang services such as participation in political protests, starting political riots, destroying property or injuring a third party. “Money is often given to a gang to initiate a fight so as to divert attention from a political issue”, the report states. Politicians or businessmen generally only deal directly with the gang leader and the amount of money exchanged is known only to the gang leader. The member who carries out the contract receives a small portion of the money. Leaders can sometimes get a  monthly income of up to MRF 1 million (USD 65,000) for being on call to carry out a politicians ‘dirty work.’ In extreme cases gang members are given contracts to carry out murder. One member said, “We may be given a file with all the information about the person and be told we may be paid in millions to carry out the killing.” ~ Rapid Assessment of Gangs in Male’, 2012.

      The report found gang members had protectors or patrons among powerful politicians who guaranteed law enforcement agencies will leave them alone and that they would be saved from Courts where necessary. A co-dependency is said to exist as gang leaders are aware of illegal and criminal activities of politicians and each depend on the other to achieve their ends.








      Serious Concerns

      The PI report, the updates provided by MPS on the “ongoing search for Rilwan” and the language and sentiments expressed in other related statements of MPS, and the indisputable fact that it is now nearly 50 days since Rilwan disappeared, gives serious reason for concern about the police investigation. Of immediate critical concern is the unknown situation of Rilwan as the reported “search” by MPS continues without any visibility of such an activity or meaningful updates.

      Rilwan’s disappearance, the circumstances surrounding it, the researched yet never addressed relationship between gangs, politicians and crime, and the influence of politics and politicians on law enforcement inclusive of police and the judiciary, makes the situation in Maldives today terrifying. Worse is there is no functional mechanism within the State to stand up to these issues and say, enough is enough.


      Current Commissioner of Police in 2013 had tweeted, ‘Police forms a Gang Task Force to prevent and eradicate violent criminal activity. Zero tolerance for gang activity!” but gang crime and the brutality of violent crimes has risen sharply, with stabbings and murders common. Rilwan’s abduction, a crime like no other before this, may not be the last given the criminal environment and the fact that perpetrators of serious crime rarely face justice.

      Despite the statements of MPS to the contrary, serious crimes have sharply risen with 31 murders recorded since 2001, ten murders 2012 alone which include the brutal torture and murder of lawyer Ahmed Najeeb and the violent hacking of MP Dr. Afraasheem Ali. A record 27 of these 31 murders remain unsolved.


      Crime statistics available on MPS website show crime had been steadily on the rise since 2000, and had decreased by as much as 12% in 2010, rising again 5% in 2011 and 15% in 2012.

      Not least among concerns is that MPS may be unable, or unwilling, to investigate Rilwan’s disappearance or address serious organized crime. It may indeed be politics, and the involvement of powerful individuals within or with links to Government is preventing MPS from being professional. Just as gang leaders depend on influential politicians, senior law enforcement officials too depend on powerful  individual politicians upon whom their livelihoods depend. When crime rules and silence pays, few would be willing to break out and put their lives and livelihood at risk. They are the fools.