A pro-opposition television network in the Maldives was forced to shut down on Friday amid threats to its staff over their reporting on the current political crisis that has plunged the picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago into deeper turmoil.
Raajje TV was forced to discontinue its live broadcast after the Maldives military threatened the country’s media, news website The Maldives Independent reported. The television network also said it did not believe there was a safe enviornment for its journalists to report freely and independently.
“As the most watched TV station in the Maldives, we regret that the temporary suspension of our regular broadcast would deprive the public their right to information – a right that is vital for the public, especially at this critical time,” Raajje TV was quoted as saying by the Maldives Independent. “These are protected rights that cannot be suppressed even during a state of emergency, as clearly stipulated in article 255 (b) of the constitution.”
“Following the Supreme Court ruling on 1st February, RaajjeTV received a number of threats including open calls for arson attacks, threats of violence against staff and calls to burn down the station by a mob gathered in front of RaajjeTV,” it said.
Reflecting on the development, opposition lawmaker Eva Abdulla said, “The broadcaster received threats from government legislators and others.”
The Maldives has been embroiled in a crisis ever since President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency and ordered the arrest of judges who had ordered the release of his political opponents. On Thursday, a top UN official had warned the Security Council that the situation was tense and may deteriorate even further.
Yameen, who has had almost all the political opposition jailed since he came to power in 2013, is resisting mounting international pressure over the crisis. The Maldives is presently ranked 117 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders annual press freedom index, down from 112 the previous year.
In the wake of the crisis, China, India and several Western governments have advised their citizens against travelling to the Maldives in the light of the latest unrest.
With AFP inputs
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