TV channel forced to suspend broadcast in Maldives

[Maldives], Feb 9: Major TV station in Maldives, RaajjeTV has shut down its broadcast coming under immense pressure and threats of attacks.

“We regret to inform our viewers of the decision to suspend RaajjeTV’s regular broadcast, amid continued harassment, threats and intimidation. We do not believe there is a safe environment in the Maldives necessary for our journalists to report freely and independently,” the station said in a statement.

“Following the Supreme Court ruling on February 1, RajjeTV received a number of threats, including open calls for arson attacks, threats of violence against RajjeTV staff and calls to burn down the station by the mob gathered in front of RajjeTV. This was backed up by the public appeals to the broadcast regulator, police and military, by ruling party lawmakers and senior government officials to shut down the RajjeTV,” the statement added.

Earlier the station’s screenshot doing the rounds of social media read, “RajjeTV informs our viewers that we have suspended regular broadcasts due to attacks on free and independent media continued threats to RajjeTV and its staff, following the Police’s decision to slash security to the station and the warning issued by the MNDF to media sources over closure of any media stations without warning.”

On February 5, the opposition-aligned RaajjeTV tweeted that its shutdown was “imminent,” and that they will “continue to work” until the “last minute. We have no security.”

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission had earlier warned media stations they could face closure if they were deemed a threat to national security, incited unrest with false information or endangered the public interest, according to news reports.

On Monday, former President of Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Chief Justice Saeed, Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed and Judicial administrator Hassan Saeed were arrested by the security forces after Yameen declared a state of emergency in the country.

The arrests indicated that the crackdown on the opposition intensified. The country’s National Defence Force also stormed inside the Supreme Court (SC) premises in Male on Tuesday.

The Maldivian capital remained tense as opposition leaders across were being rounded up and placed under detention as Yameen, who has been refusing to obey SC’s orders directing him to release nine prominent leaders from prison, has given sweeping powers to security forces.

Last week, the Maldivian Supreme Court acquitted former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and ordered the reinstatement of the 12 other parliamentary members.

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