Under Pressure, Government Reinstates Access to Blocked Websites
The government has reinstated access to two previously blocked websites, succumbing to mounting pressure and criticism from the public, rights groups, institutions, and the opposition. While the government has refrained from providing a rationale for the blocking of kurusee.com and dhiyavaru.com., both sites have been reinstated amid widespread outrage.
In addition to these two websites, the government also blocked access to furathama.com, a registered news outlet.
The censorship of the websites was decried by rights groups and the opposition as a democratic regression and an infringement on the hard-earned right to freedom of expression. The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) also hinted at opposing the confirmation of Adam Shareef Umar, President Mohamed Muizzu’s pick for the Ministry of Cities, Local Government, and Public Works— the entity responsible for the blocking of the websites.
The government later lifted the restrictions on the ‘Furathama’ news website. ‘Furathama’ was unblocked on 22 December.
Yielding to public pressure, the government has now unblocked “Kurusee” and “Dhiyavaru.” The Chief Spokesperson, Mohamed Shahyb, was peppered with questions about the blocking of websites at a press briefing on Thursday. Despite repeated questions from journalists, Shahyb declined to comment on why the websites were blocked or the government’s policy on blocking websites.
He defended the government’s decision to block websites but maintained the government’s stance that it had not blocked any registered websites. “Past administrations have also imposed restrictions on certain websites. This is not a novel occurrence. Some media outlets have also been shut down. This administration remains committed to upholding the law and taking all necessary measures to safeguard the people and national security,” Shahyb said, responding to relentless questions from the media.
While Shahyb denies allegations of suppression of freedom of expression, both ‘Kurusee’ and ‘Dhiyavaru’ have posted anti-government content critical of Muizzu since he assumed office on 17 November.
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