The Civil Court has yesterday reinstated a suit filed in the court by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) against the Maldives Police Service regarding its dismantling of MDP’s protest site at the tsunami monument.
The case was initially presented to the court by MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, whom the court deemed did not have the authority to file cases on behalf of the party.
The case was filed this time by the party’s president, Dr Ibrahim Didi, who was the Fisheries and Agriculture Minister under the former government. Judge Aisha Shujoon was the presiding judge in the first hearing, while Civil Court Judge Hathif Hilmee presided over the second.
In yesterday’s hearing MDP requested the court declare that the MDP had the right to protest near the surf break and to stop police actions that would halt MDP activities in the area. The party furthermore requested that the court order police to return everything confiscated from the area.
The first case was thrown out with the declaration that the acting chairperson could not file cases in the court on behalf of the party. The case was nearly at an end when the decision was made.
Police and MNDF dismantled the MDP camp site – dubbed ‘Justice Square’ by MDP supporters – on March 19. The move followed violent protests in Male’ during which police officers used rubber bullets and other less-lethal weapons to control protesters.
The last time the case was presented MDP lawyer Hisan Hassan told the court that police could only search the area with the presence of MDP senior persons, and that MDP wanted to clarify why the area was destroyed.
Hisan also told the judge that police did not even have a list of items they confiscated from the area.
In response the state attorney Ahmed Usham told the court that the area was dismantled because the protesters threw bricks at the security forces, and that the dismantling of the protest was not an action that was taken to narrow freedom of speech.
Usham also said that alcohol and items “used to conduct sexual activities” were discovered in the area, and that those were items disallowed under Islamic Sharia.
The state attorney claimed knives and sharpened iron bars and other materials were also found and alleged that MDP protesters had been attacking police officers that went there to investigate violence that had occurred in the area.
Usham claimed that people gathered in the area had been using filthy words to speak and had been encouraging violence.
He also alleged the education of children living in the area had been affected and that their rights had been violated.
‘’Maldives Police Services and MNDF officers blockaded, occupied and dismantled Justice Square, at south east side of Male’ where the Maldivian Democratic Party has organised peaceful, pro-democracy rallies since the first democratically elected Government was ousted on February 7 in a military and police backed coup,’’ the MDP said in a statement issued at the time.
After the police and MNDF dismantled the area, Male’ City Council granted the ‘Usfasgandu’ area for MDP to hold their protests.
Male City Council Deputy Mayor Ahmed Falah told Minivan News at the time that the land was given to MDP because “terrorists” had attacked the Justice Square.