Maldives journalists boycott India’s offer to train them, protesting attack on minorities, press

Some of the journalists from Maldives said they have decided to boycott the Indian government’s offer to train their country’s scribes, protesting “the attacks on free press and violence against minorities especially Muslims and Christians in India.”

On 28 December, Maldives Media Council (MMC) issued a statement informing about the meeting of MMC’s officials with the High Commission of India with regard to “the possibility of providing training and skill development opportunities for Maldivian journalists through Indian educational institutions.”

MMC President Shaban Fahmy, Council Members Ali Hussain, Ibrahim Fauzee and Mohamed Shafau Hassan, and Secretary-General Dr.Ibrahim Sameer were part of the meeting with India’s High Commissioner, Munu Mahawar, Deputy High Commissioner Rohit Ritish, and other senior officials of the Indian High Commission.

“Discussions were held for seeking the kind assistance in sending Maldivian journalists to India for training and skill development and also to explore the possibility of inviting specialists from Indian educational institutions to visit the Maldives, to conducting training programmes,” read the MMC’s statement.

Soon after the MMC’s statement came out, some of the journalists in Maldives came up with their plan to boycott citing the attacks on free press and violence against Muslims and Christians in India.

Hamdhan Shakeel, co-founder, and editor of Maldives News Network (MNN) is the one who is vocal about his plan to boycott Indian’s offer.

“We are yet to know what training opportunities they are to offer through the Maldives Media Council but as the editor of MNN English, we will boycott it because of the Indian government’s willful overlooking of the countless communal violence against Muslims, Christians, and other minorities. Current Indian government’s attack on the free press cannot be allowed to go unchecked,” Shakeel told Maktoob.

Pointing out “genocidal rhetoric against Muslims” purportedly referring to the hate speeches given at Uttarkhand’s Hindu parliament, Shakeel said that they want to stand in solidarity with “the oppressed and suppressed members of media.”

“Our decision to boycott the offer stems from these facts that we want to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and suppressed members of the media in India and to voice our concern against the growing genocidal rhetoric against Muslims, Christians, and other minorities,” he said.

According to Shakeel, journalists from Maldives News Network, Channel 13, The Maldives Journal, and some freelance journalists are part of his plan to boycott India’s offer.

“Most journalists are afraid to openly say anything as local media rely on sponsorships from Government SOEs as income, so taking a side against the Government means they lose their source of income…Our private sector is simply too small to fund multiple private newspapers while our tourism sector has no interest as their target customers are from abroad,” said Shakeel.

Another Maldivian journalist Ahmed Azaan also spoke up about his plan to boycott India’s offer citing “the use of sedition law by the Indian government to crack down on reporters.”

“The Indian govt uses its Sedition Law to crack down on reporters. The Indian HC contravened the Vienna Convention in an attempt to get the Maldivian govt to take action against Dhiyares. Dhiyares/TMJ will therefore boycott the Indian invitation to train journalists,” said Azaan.