Maldives Independent, the Maldives’ premiere English publication and one of the few remaining independent media outlets, was formed in exile in Sri Lanka in 2004. As the country’s pro-democracy movement began to grow, the staff of the Maldives Independent moved operations back home in 2005.
The publication covers many taboo subjects which are neglected by other press outlets, editor Zaheena Rasheed said, including gender, human rights, political violence, religious extremism and much more. For this, Maldives Independent has faced repeated harassment.
In September 2016, following the release of an Al Jazeera documentary exposing government corruption that contained interviews with Rasheed, the newspaper’s offices were attacked with a machete and later raided by the police. Rasheed believes whoever left a machete stuck to the door of her office is connected with the disappearance of one of her colleagues in 2014, an abduction she said has not been properly investigated by police.
Following an anonymous text Rasheed received saying she would be the next one to disappear, she left the country.
The Maldives ranks 112 out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. “Journalists in the Maldives have taken unprecedented risks in reporting on human rights, business corruption and abuse of authority. I believe a free press is crucial, essential in protecting human rights,” Rasheed said.
Despite the attacks, arrests and raids, Maldives Independent continues to produce outstanding journalism, holding the Maldives’ corrupt government to account.