#Maldives: Murder of MP: Vigilante sentence carried out by opposition party MDP for alleged “traitorous” acts?
#Maldives Police today arrested four persons in relation to the brutal murder of MP and moderate Muslim scholar Dr. Afrasheem Ali. One of the individuals arrested was Mariyam Naifa, a leading activist of ex-President Nasheed’s party, Maldives Democratic Party. Unconfirmed reports in social media state identify a second individual amongst the arrested four to be a member of a gang providing “security” to MDP Interim President “Reeko” Moosa Maniku. A book launched by Nasheed on 10th September repeatedly attacks Dr. Afrasheem, former Vice President of the Judicial Services Commision (JSC) at the time the majority of the present Judiciary was sworn in, calling him a “traitor” who allegedly subverted the Judiciary. Dr. Afrasheem’s murder comes within hours of Nasheed’s refusal to appear before court in a human rights abuse case against him. Nasheed refused to obey the court, denouncing the Judiciary as political and not to be obeyed. Nasheed, holding a lifetime position as the Spiritual Leader of the MDP, enjoys a cult-like following amongst his party faithful.
Unconfirmed reports state that the individual identified as MDP MP Moosa Maniku's security was found hiding in a house nearby the victim’s, with his blood on his hands and clothes. This was reportedly the first arrest, made within hours of discovery of Dr. Afrasheem’s body.
Police have not commented on the identity of any of the four individuals arrested in the case. MDP confirmed in social media today that its activist Naifa had been arrested by Police last night in connection with Dr. Afrasheem’s murder. MDP lawyer Ahmed Abdulla Afeef has confirmed to media Naifa's arrest and stated that he was going to represent her in the case. Afeef himself has appeared on MDP TV channel condemning the Judiciary and JSC.
The contents of the book “The Failed Silent Coup”, a virulent and defamatory narrative by Nasheed’s representative on the JSC Aishath Velezinee, have been widely circulated by MDP in social media, Minivan News (a newspaper owned by David Hardingham, Nasheed's college friend), MDP media channel Raajje TV, on the internet, public handouts and public speeches. In addition, Velezinee has also tweeted and blogged hate speech against Dr. Afrasheem and some other members of the JSC then and now. Two other key individuals attacked in her “book” are the Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid and the former Interim Supreme Court Justice and former President of JSC, Mujuthaz Fahmy.
Velezinee’s publication is just one component of unsubstantiated hate speech distributed by Nasheed and his party in their war against the country’s Judiciary and the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). During his term of office and even after his resignation, key members of the party including Nasheed’s family members faced several court cases for corruption and illegal activities. Nasheed himself is presently facing three cases in court, one of which is a human rights abuse case brought against him by the Prosecutor General for the unlawful military arrest of Chief Judge Abdullah Mohamed. Following a court summons to Nasheed to appear in court for the first hearing, his party’s governing council passed a motion that the party would not respect any order by the Judiciary until it was reformed. Nasheed then announced that, as member of the party, he would respect his party’s decision, thus imposing an obligation on the party’s general membership to follow the party ruling.
Subsequent to this, age-old allegations against the Judiciary and members of the Judicial Services Commission were again circulated to the general membership via social media, internet and television networks. That same day, Nasheed departed from the court’s jurisdiction in a publicly televised event, stating that he did not recognize the Judiciary as a legal entity and hence did not have to obey its orders. Dr. Afrasheem Ali was found murdered that same night.
Nasheed’s newspaper Minivan News has sought to portray Dr. Afrasheem’s murder as a religious killing, alluding to Dr. Afrasheem’s vocal stand against religious extremism. It has published comments on its internet site which have stated what the comment’s author claims to be details of a contract to kill Dr. Afrasheem and 11 others. However, Minivan News has not substantiated its slant on the murder.
Dr. Afrasheem was brutally attacked from behind as he entered his home late night after a live television broadcast. He had suffered fatal injuries to the head, body and limbs. His body was discovered by his wife lying inside the house compound in a pool of blood. Police have not yet revealed the details of the murder. Dr. Afrasheem, a Muslim scholar and respected teacher had a substantial following in the country for his moderate views on Islam. His brutal murder sent shockwaves through the country yesterday, with nationwide outpouring of grief and calls for justice broadcast on public media.
Dr. Afrasheem belongs to the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the party of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a political opponent reviled by Nasheed. In the last months of Gayoom’s presidency, an attempt was made to kill him during an official visit to Hoarafushi island. The attacker was stopped by a student scout. The young lad suffered injuries to the hand with which he grabbed the knife as the attacker tried to stab Gayoom. Gayoom escaped with a superficial cut to his abdomen. The man, identified as belonging to MDP, was apprehended by police at the scene.
Dr. Afrasheem’s family revealed to media that the fatal attack on a beloved son and father was the last in a series of physical attacks on him. Various death threats had also been made against him. Fellow Parliamentarians today revealed that Dr. Afrasheem’s murder occurred while his police security had been withdrawn, the reasons for which were unknown to them. Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz has been summoned to appear before the Parliamentary Subcommitte on National Security to answer questions related to the withdrawal of police protection from Dr. Afrasheem and other politicians.
Dr. Afrasheem’s murder together with Nasheed’s coordinated attacks on the Judiciary and sitting judges throws the country’s political and justice system into a turmoil that the country can well do without in this period of economic recession. The economic difficulties are further exacerbated by an anti-Maldives tourism campaign headed by Nasheed’s rich and powerful Western friends such as Richard Branson and Actor Ed Norton. Yesterday they launched a fresh campaign in the name of democracy and calling for early elections despite the fact that Nasheed’s resignation from the presidency has been shown under international scrutiny to be of his own free will and without illegal coercion.