Photo courtesy the author.
Photo courtesy the author.

The Maldives’ abducted development

The disappearance of journalist Ahmed Rilwan and the other side of ‘paradise’.

The droning rumble of traffic through the heart of the Maldives' capital city, Male, was interrupted on 8 August 2018 by a procession of question marks. A protesting parade of doubt coursing past fuschia campaign flags which confidently boast of five years of national development: of roads, airports, land reclamations, giant mosques and the country's first ever inter-island bridge – all accompanied by pledges to protect the Maldives' Islamic faith and the country itself, under the Dhivehi language slogan 'dheen & gawm'.

"Where is the knife?", "who owned the car?", "what about the DNA?" queried the hundreds who had joined the protest march. "4 years 4 that?" questioned one placard; "4 years of failure", read another. "Same old questions, no new answers," determined another. At the head of the queue marched Aminath Easa, the 72 – year old mother of Ahmed Rilwan who 'disappeared' four years ago.  "Four years since Rilwan was disappeared. The investigation isn't complete! Conduct a fair trial!" demanded the largest banner, brandished by Easa and her daughters. The fourth annual Suvaalu (Question) march marked exactly 1461 days since he was last heard from, just after midnight on 8 August 2014.

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Himal Southasian