New Delhi: A well-known Maldivian civil activist for free speech and human rights, Yameen Rasheed was stabbed to death on Sunday, leading to demands for an international probe from the opposition and condemnation from western countries.
According to local media, 29-year-old Rasheed, an outspoken critic of the government and radical Islamism, was found with 16 stab wounds on the staircase of his house in the capital city of Male in the early hours of Sunday.
Rasheed was one of the most prolific social media activists in Maldives, with an active presence on Twitter. He also ran a blog called, Daily Panic, where he used to write a satirical weekly round-up of happenings in the Indian ocean archipelago. He described himself on his blog as “Disobedient Writer. Occasional satirist.”
Rasheed had been actively lobbying to get justice for his friend Ahmed Rilwan, another critic and blogger, who has been missing since August 2014. He worked with Rilwan’s family to file a case against the Maldives police and filed a request under the country’s right to information act about the police’s investigation, according to the opposition party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
He had been arrested during the anti-government protests on May 1, 2015 and held in custody for 21 days.
As news of Rasheed death has spread around Maldives, there has been an outpouring of outrage.
Former Maldivian president and opposition leader, Mohamed Nasheed, currently in self imposed exile, described Rasheed as a “treasured soul” and demanded international participation in the investigation of his murder.
The UN and envoys of the US, UK and Canada also issued statements condemning the murder.
The Maldives government claimed that President Abdulla Yameen has instructed that all government institutions should “fully deploy their resources in bringing the perpetrators of this heinous act to justice”.
Rasheed had received numerous death threats over the years for his criticism of the government, as well as his views against the radicalisation of Maldivian society.
The MDP noted that Rasheed had registered a case with the police about the death threats last December.
The Maldivian government has recently started cracking down on the opposition, with the arrest of Jumhoree party leader Gasim Ibrahim and developments in a police case against Yameen’s estranged nephew Faris Maumoon.