The 23rd of April marks a year since blogger and human rights defender Yameen Rasheed's lifeless body was discovered on the stairwell of his residence, gruesomely slain in his prime.
Yameen, a social media activist and proficient writer, was attacked as he entered his home after work at around 02:30 am, by two men while a third waited outside as a lookout. Yamen had over 30 stab wounds on his chest, neck and throat. There is CCTV footage of everything that happened inside Maafannu Spatula that night.
His murder shook the entire nation. Yameen’s family and friends, joined by a number of well-wishers including media organizations, held a memorial event, and released red balloons into the air. Yameen’s last tweet was a red balloon emoji.
The international community noticed, with Ambassadors and organizations immediately condemning the murder, and calling for a swift investigation into his murder and bring his perpetrators to justice. US Ambassador Atul Keshap welcomed his family with open arms, when his father went there seeking their assistance in pressuring the authorities to carry out a credible investigation, with the assistance of international experts.
Keshap described the late blogger as ‘a champion of human rights and freedom of speech”.
Waves of angst and fury over Yameen's murder had taken the country by storm, with nationwide protests calling to find his perpetrators and bring them to justice followed by a petition of over a 5055 signatures calling to conduct a reliable investigation into Yameen’s murder and the abduction of journalist Ahmed Rilwan, which is another such case. Yameen’s accused abductors walk around freely, as the trial in the case continues. Yameen had been a main part in the campaign for Rilwan, they were the closest of friends.
Police have ruled out any connections with Rilwan’s disappearance and Yameen’s murder. Following an investigation, police arrested six suspects in Yameen’s murder, saying they believed he was “a secularist who needed to be killed for making public statements ridiculing Islam."
Yameen had received multiple death threats, which were reported to the police, but as we can see, to no avail. Yameen’s family accuses police of negligence, even filing a case at the Civil Court. The case has since been rejected.
While the police assured to do everything to ensure justice for Yameen, the slow paced investigation, refusal to provide information and the following court processes against his accused murderers have been a concern for the public.
Especially the authorities’ decision to hold his trial behind closed doors. The Criminal Court decided to hold a secret trial, at the request of the prosecutor general.
This has angered his family, friends and well-wishers, as well as the public. The public does not believe that a fair trial can be held under closed doors, and that justice cannot be served as such. Their main call is to open the trial, so as to ensure that there are no doubts about the court proceedings or the verdict.
International organizations, such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders joined the Maldives in remembering Yameen on the one-year anniversary of his murder.
As mentioned earlier, police had assured to put in the best of their efforts to bring justice for Yameen, what did they do to mark the day? Blocked his family, friends and well-wishers from holding march, calling for justice for Yameen, and to open the trial. They were not give the chance to walk from one end to the other end, of this small island we call Malé City.
Do they really know what this does? To the people that cared about Yameen? And Rilwan? They do the same to Rilwan’s family, officers had even pepper-sprayed the participants of a march held in memory of Rilwan, including his mother.
More than anything, this angers and frustrates the families. All they can do is seek justice for their sons, whom they lost too early in life. And it makes the public lose trust in the system. It makes us feel hopeless.