Social media activist’s murder heralded by stream of death threats

Yameen Rasheed, 29, a popular social media activist and blogger was found murdered early April 23, 2017.

Yameen Rasheed, 29, a popular social media activist and blogger was found murdered early April 23, 2017.

The very last person that Yameen Rasheed, the social media activist and blogger renowned for his satirical angles on politics and social issues, contacted was a close friend of his residing abroad. According to his associate, Yameen had sent her a text message around 2:34 a.m. on April 23 on his way home after a long night at work.

The next thing people heard about the 29 year old young man was that of his brutal murder. His body, bloodied and bearing 14 stab wounds, was discovered by the staircase of his house in capital Male by another resident, who reported the murder to Police around 2:59 a.m. in the early hours of Sunday.

“He was stabbed in the neck, chest and head; slaughtered. He was wounded in 14 places,” reported a person close to Yameen from Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.

Yameen’s father Hussain Rasheed, who had rushed to Male from Addu City, told local television channel Raajje TV that he had been informed that the CCTV cameras in the building where Yameen lived had been turned aside such that the crime was not caught on footage. Hence, Yameen’s family suspects that his murder was planned and that he had been watched by the culprits.

Yameen Rasheed, 29, a popular social media activist and blogger was found murdered early April 23, 2017.

Yameen Rasheed, 29, a popular social media activist and blogger was found murdered early April 23, 2017.

“It’s been around two-three weeks since he started staying late at work to prepare for an application that’s to be released this week. Yameen’s a programmer. Even last night, he was apparently the last one to leave,” said a staff at Maldives Stock Exchange where Yameen had been employed.

According to the staff member, Yameen, who was born in Addu atoll Feydhoo island, was a mild-mannered person who got along with his colleagues. He had been working in Maldives Stock Exchange for a year and half. Previously, he was employed at local telecom giant Dhiraagu.

The popular social media activist has received numerous death threats, following which his family and friends had urged him to travel in taxis at night. However, according to some of Yameen’s friends, he had resorted to walking from work to home at night over the past two weeks. They assumed this was due to a decrease in threatening messages as of late.

Yameen to Police over death threats

Yameen is popularly known for his English blog, “The Daily Panic”, which carries his views on Maldivian politics and social issues relayed in a satirical tongue-in-cheek narrative. In his blog, he had criticised government policies, problems in the Maldivian society and religious extremism ideologies.

His family and close friends declared that there are groups of people who could never digest the articles written by the independent-thinking Yameen, spamming his posts with endless threats.

A person close to Yameen told Mihaaru that a private number had repeatedly messaged “MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party] people and you will die”.

Police officers closed off the area around social media activist Yameen Rasheed's house after he was found murdered with multiple stab wounds. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

Police officers closed off the area around social media activist Yameen Rasheed’s house after he was found murdered with multiple stab wounds. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

“The last threat was through Facebook. That was also regarding an article on his blog. These were all filed at the police, asking to investigate and take action,” said his friend, showing a case Yameen had submitted to Police last December.

Yameen had again requested Police for protection this year January. Considering the seriousness of the threats, he had also had a detailed report prepared by a group of lawyers, including renowned local attorneys according to Mihaaru’s sources, to be filed at the police. However, Yameen had not submitted the report yet, according to his friend.

“It wasn’t just the blog articles; he received a lot of threats due to his work to find justice for Rilwan, too,” said Yameen’s friend, referring to Ahmed Rilwan, a journalist of Maldives Independent that was abducted two years ago.

“[Yameen] was warned that if he kept up his work, what happened to Rilwan would also happen to him.”

Police spokesperson Ahmed Shifan told Mihaaru that Police had taken some action regarding the cases submitted by Yameen. According to Shifan, Police had questioned suspects in connection with Yameen’s latest case and kept him updated of their findings.

However, Shifan did not disclose whether any arrests had been made over the death threats.

A second voice silenced in the fight for justice

Social media activist Yameen Rasheed (L) with journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Social media activist Yameen Rasheed (L) with journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Yameen Rasheed’s family described him as the “best friend” of Ahmed Rilwan, his fellow blogger and a journalist that has been missing since August 7, 2014 after an alleged abduction.

Leading the ensuing fight by Rilwan’s family to discover the truth behind his disappearance was Yameen, who had planned and organised all their rallies and marches. According to Rilwan’s sister Aminath Shehenaz, Yameen had been in the middle of preparations to mark three years since Rilwan’s disappearance prior to his murder.

“While still struggling to get justice for one son, the other one too has been killed mercilessly. His crime was to fight for justice in this country and speak truth.”

 

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