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Child in Rasdhoo beaten for saying a gang is 'no good'

This is a translation of a report written by Fathimath Ajfaan, Mihaaru.

Hanaan Hussain
10 April 2024, MVT 12:35
An image of a lone child in a desolate building.
Hanaan Hussain
10 April 2024, MVT 12:35

The weekend's viral video depicting a child getting beaten by other children shouting obscenities at him inside a mosque in Rasdhoo is a difficult one to watch. Like many people, Hassan Sinaan chose not to watch it, encouraging his friends to stop watching it immediately. It was a troubling scene, even if the leaked video had blurred out the victim's face. The incident had not happened in AA. Mathiveri, where they lived, but on the nearby island of Rasdhoo where they had gone on holiday.

As such, Sinaan had a hard time recognizing the child in the video as his son.

"I was sitting at a coffee shop with my friends, and I left to take my wife out for a ride. As I got home, I got a call that they had done this to my son. I don't know how to describe how sad I was. I woke up my son as he was sleeping to ask him about it, and he said that his attackers had threatened him to not tell me about the abuse," Sinaan told Mihaaru.

"It was the most heartbreaking night of my entire life."

Sinaan said he never expected his son to be hurt this way, and that he treated his son very lovingly.

He said that while the video of his son getting attacked might have upset many people momentarily, it was an event that his son would never forget for the rest of his life. He added that aside from the physical harm, the mental injury was also not going to be easily overcome.

The child has now begun receiving counselling.

"Not a second goes by where I don't think about it. I keep seeing the abuse they inflicted on my son. I am still grieving, and my wife is suffering more than me. I am trying to be brave. I don't show any of this in front of my son," said Sinaan.

The child, Mohamed Aziyaan, lived on his father's island of AA. Mathiveri, and at the time of the incident, had visited his mother's home island Rasdhoo on Monday last week.

Sinaan had not joined them on the trip as they were meant to be away for a few days. Aziyaan went to Rasdhoo with his mother and younger sibling.

An aerial view of Rasdhoo, Alifu Alifu Atoll.

Aziyaan, who always went to the mosque with his father, attended prayers that night with the children of his mother's family. After Isha prayer, he stayed outside with the children until the start of Tarawih. In that short time, he started talking to the other children there about some gang.

"The children were asking Aziyaan if there was such a gang in Mathiveri. My son said there was a group called [name redacted for children's safety] on his island, and the other children said they had a gang on their island too [name redacted for children's safety]. The children from Rasdhoo said that the gang on their island was stronger, at which point my son said that the gang, which was very famous in the capital Malé, was not a very good one," recounted Sinaan after speaking with his son.

"A child who heard Aziyaan say this went away and called one of the children who abused him, telling him that my son had said this gang was no good," he said.

When the Tarawih prayers were about to begin, the children went to the mosque. Aziyaan was in line for prayer when he was grabbed by the collar of his shirt and pulled away by the boy who had come after being informed of that earlier conversation. He is also one of the two boys who assaulted Aziyaan in the video.

"After being taken out of the line for prayer, he was beaten and asked whether or not he would willingly go with them to the bathroom. My son first refused, and got beaten again before going with them," said Sinaan.

Since Aziyaan had said that the gang these boys supported was no good, they were going to make it so that he could never say it again. In the video, he is seen crying "I won't say it again," in between begging to be let go, and this is why.

The video shows Aziyaan being bullied inside a toilet, getting assaulted verbally and physically by other children. He starts crying when they hit his cheek very hard, and the other children are heard hurling profanities at him as they abuse him. In the lengthy and violent video, the child is seen being drenched with water from his own bottle and begging on his knees to be let go for the sake of good.

Sinaan said his son was able to get out when another child entered and stopped them. It was the same child whose picture had been posted on social media as the one who took the video of the incident.

"According to my son, that child kept asking to stop attacking him. Twice, he said that they stopped attacking him because of this child."

After Tarawih prayers, Aziyaan returned home to prepare for his mother's surprise birthday party. He didn't tell his mother or anyone else in the house that something had happened.

After celebrating his mother's birthday, Aziyaan wanted to return to Mathiveri to be with his father. When he called Sinaan, his father had said that he would go see him the next afternoon, but Aziyaan insisted on returning to Mathiveri before Friday prayers.

"My younger child, Aziyaan's sibling, called me and asked that I come the next morning. Did not agree with me saying I would be there in the afternoon. My wife was told that he did not want to do Friday prayers in Rasdhoo, and that he wanted to go to the mosque in Mathiveri. He said he didn't like the mosque, and then he said he wanted to go home, sleep for a while and go fishing in the evening," said Sinaan.

Since the children wanted to come, Sinaan returned with the children to Mathiveri on Friday morning.


Death threat after torture

Aziyaan had been too afraid to talk about what had happened to him. His attackers had threatened to kill him if he told anyone about it.

Sinaan said this was the reason his son had kept it a secret and tried to handle it on his own.

"We never heard any of the children talk like this," said Sinaan. "When asked why he had talked about a specific gang in Mathiveri, Aziyaan said that he had seen another boy on the island wear a jersey representing the gang, and that there were bai'balaa events where the gang performed which they all watched."

"We are trying to give them a good upbringing. Because we have told them to be good, they don't dare do anything in their own defense even if another child hits them. I asked why he didn't shout as he was pulled away, and my son said that such behavior would infringe on the sacredness of the mosque."

Aziyaan's family wants justice for him, and to ensure the safety of the children moving forward.

Sinaan insists that his son was tortured in the way that children would not do amongst themselves. He added that anyone who had seen the video would know that his son was beaten in specific places and abused in a way that no child should know how to.

Sinaan also expressed worry when it was later revealed that one of the children had a previous record of violence and fighting. He called on the children's parents and government institutions to be more responsible for the attack.

Information about the child had been given to the Gender Ministry and Home Ministry by the Police two years ago, and he has still not been rehabilitated. Police released this information regarding the child's record after the video of him torturing Aziyaan became public.

"The age of 13 is the age when you can go to a mosque alone while living on an island. It is not the age to be coddled by an adult when you go, but I still take my son to the mosque every day because this is exactly what I fear. To think he was beaten so violently even as he begged on the one night I did not go with him causes me a lot of grief," said Sinaan.

Aziyaan's father went on to say that he did not wish to see his son's attackers abused in the same way. He said what was needed was for the people responsible for raising the children to step up, and give them the proper counselling so they will come and apologize to his son on their own.

"They have not come to us with an apology. What the family posts on social media is not an apology. Things need to be better explained to these kids. They need counselling, and when they have also become better and come to us to apologize... only then will our son get justice," said Sinaan.

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