23 June, 2021

News In Test-Tubes

News In Test-Tubes
I went there for an international conference on press freedom. A bit like holding a skiing convention in Varanasi. President Maumoon Gayoom’s almost thirty years in power have seen little in the way of a lively media. But towards the end of his long years in power—and prompted by both international criticism and internal dissent—he’s now presiding over remarkable political change. The Maldivian Democratic Party and other opposition groups have been allowed to operate. Newspapers and magazines have sprung up, some starkly critical of the government. Opposition journalists say they still face harassment and arrest, and ministers admit that the road to genuine political and media pluralism has been bumpy. The editor of the main opposition daily faces the prospect of jail for an article which the authorities argued was inciting violence. She admits that the language used was over the top, but says the government needs to learn tolerance of a critical media. Whatever the continuing problems, signs of change in what some might still regard as a dictatorship are also apparent. The...

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