Crime Politics Society & Culture

Last month we gave Yameen Rashed a prize for his social startup. On Sunday he was killed –

In March, I met a pair of young entrepreneurs with a bold plan to help people with blood disease. Mohammed Shuraih and Yameen Rasheed: friends who were working to solve a deadly problem with a simple digital fix.

A month later, in the early hours of Sunday morning, Rasheed was stabbed to death. According to the Guardian, the 29-year-old was found in the stairwell of his apartment building with multiple stab wounds to his neck and chest. He was taken to hospital but died shortly after.

Rasheed appears to have been killed in a politically-motivated attack. In addition to his entrepreneurial projects, and his day job as an IT worker at a local bank, he ran The Daily Panic, a blog in which he interrogated and mocked the “frequently unsatirisable” politics of the Maldives. He called it “Maldives’ only news website” – a jibe at the censorship in the islands, where an autocratic, Islamist-inflected government has been suppressing criticism of its rule.

Yameen Rasheed at a protest with the mother of vanished journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Yameen Rasheed at a protest with the mother of vanished journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Yameen Rasheed at a protest with the mother of vanished journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Yameen Rasheed

The Maldives is known for azure seas and pristine beaches but in recent years the country has been home to gang violence and radical Islam. Rasheed’s killing – which came after repeated death threats – is the latest in a series of attacks on so-called secular writers. On The Daily Panic, Rasheed pursued the story of one victim: journalist Ahmed Rilwan, who vanished in 2014 in mysterious circumstances in what Rasheed believed was an abduction.

“It is now six months since Rilwan disappeared,” Rasheed wrote in February 2015. “Over these difficult months, I have finally learned what Rilwan had meant. It is simple, really. We do not live in a decent society.”

Later that year, Rasheed and 200 other democratic protesters were arrested and imprisoned without trial for 21 days. His account of that episode, compiled from notes kept in prison, show with heartbreaking clarity his courage and talent as a writer. He had a gift for the compelling image that cut through to the core of injustice.

On the Spring day in London when we met, that talent shone through to brilliant effect. Shuraih and Rasheed were pitching at the Sandoz Healthcare HaCK, a global competition to promote projects using mobile technology to expand access to healthcare. Three winners would receive €20,000, plus ongoing support from experts. Shuraih and Rasheed were down to the final six.

Shuraih, slight, with bright eyes and an easy smile, went first. In the Maldives, he explained, one out of 120 children is born with thalassemia, a hereditary blood condition similar to sickle-cell disease. To survive, sufferers needed regular blood transfusions. But in the chaotic, dispersed archipelago, donors were few and blood banks struggled to coordinate.

To solve this problem, the pair built an app called Blood Drive. The idea? To link islanders with a database of hospitals and donors, sending out notifications about blood drives and people in need. Shuraih ran through the plan but he started to get bogged down in the details.

That was when Rasheed jumped in. “Right now, everyone has a group of donors they keep track of personally. When someone goes on holiday, they have to call out to find a replacement. That’s what we’re trying to do something about.”

The image struck home. Afterwards, when the judges conferred, there was one project we decided on instantly. Blood Drive had to win. It was an honour to support it. Very few startups are – to use the cynical jargon – “democratising,” but Blood Drive truly was. It spoke to the best instincts of humanity: to find solutions; to work with what we have; to see light in the darkness.

Rasheed was an individual, not a symbol; he lived, as we all do, in his own particular world, shaped by circumstances beyond understanding. My heart goes out to his friends and family, who know this side of him best. Their agony is unimaginable.

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Source URL: Google News

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