Comment: “Unprofessional police action” will not turn the tide of public resentment

Former Director of Police Intelligence Sabra Noordeen was arrested yesterday (March 16) upon arriving at Male’ International Airport. She was handcuffed for transportation to Dhonidhoo prison on charges of “inciting violence” against police officers on March 5 this year.

She was then taken to Male’ instead, and released “with no reason given at the time”. Her passport was confiscated. Here she shares her experience and concerns about “intimidation” of members of the public by the Maldives Police Service.

I arrived in Male’ at 9.35pm last night. I made my way to immigration and was glad to see a familiar face behind the counter, an immigration officer who I’d played football with occasionally. I handed over my passport for her to process and she scanned it through.

“I’ve been asked to stop you, it says I have to stop you,” she said to me.

“You’re joking,” I responded. With the recent political upheaval in the country.  I thought she was making fun of me.

She was in fact very serious. Another immigration officer came over, and responded to me about why I was being stopped and which watch list they were referring to. He said they had to confiscate my passport due to a court order, and that it was the Maldives Police Service’s request. He told me I could collect my bag and return to the counter.

It was then that I contacted my family about what was happening. I had been on the same flight as three lawyers and the head of [private broadcaster] Raajje TV. I requested their assistance from the arrivals terminal, and they immediately joined me at the counter, with the immigration officer and a police officer who was on duty at the airport.

The police officer said I had to accompany him to the Tourist Police station at the airport. At the station, they only had a court order to hold my passport. As we were getting ready to leave the station, we were told that a court order for my arrest was on the way, and we were asked to sit down.

When I was given the court order for my arrest, I think I laughed. The reason for the arrest was “inciting violence against the police and obstructing police duty”, on March 5 on Majeedee Magu.

They had also managed to incorrectly state my gender as male!

This very thorough court order was issued based on the evidence of a Police eyewitness and a Police officer’s statement.

I was told that female officers from Male’ were on their way to the airport to arrest me and escort me to Dhoonidhoo detention centre. We waited for 45 minutes. Despite the ‘change in leadership’ at the MPS, it seemed there were still only two functioning speedboats in Male’ atoll.

Two female Special Operations officers arrived in blue camouflage uniforms – both were without name tags.

I was handcuffed and made to walk through the airport to the jetty where the Police vessel was yet to arrive.

My loyalty to the institution that is the Maldives Police Service is hard to get rid of.  This is despite the direction that rogue officers forcefully took the institution in with the Police-led mutiny and coup d’etat on 7, February 2012.

One of the officers told me that it was procedure to be handcuffed while on the vessel on the way to Dhoonidhoo. I protested, trying to remember the procedures I had read while working in MPS.

They did not uncuff me, even when they put on the life jacket, which resulted in the life jacket not being fitted properly.

It was placed around my shoulders with the handcuffed arms awkwardly placed in one of the sleeves. I said to her, ‘if something happens, there’s no way I’ll survive like this’.

“We’ll save you,” the female officer replied.

Needless to say, I was not reassured.  On the boat, I was told that I was now being taken to MPS HQ in Male’ instead of Dhoonidhoo and that they were apparently going to release me. There was no reason given at the time.

I was taken into the waiting room in HQ. I was uncuffed, and asked to wait until my release chit and summons for questioning were prepared.

My release chit stated, that they no longer believed I needed to be kept under arrest. My summons to appear for questioning on Monday afternoon was also handed over to me.

I asked why they felt it was necessary to arrest and handcuff me when they could have just served me the summons, without all the dramatics the next morning at my home. I was not given an answer.

I quit the Maldives Police Service on 8 February 2012 with a profound sense of sadness for the institution and the colleagues I left behind. I do not believe that everyone in the MPS was involved in the mutiny or the coup and I do not believe in blaming everyone in a Police uniform. Many will disagree with me.

However, I do believe that MPS cannot fully gain the confidence of the public they claim to ‘protect and serve’, nor guarantee free and fair Presidential elections without significant reform.

This includes the dissolution of the Special Operations (SO) unit, holding all police officers accused of committing acts of police brutality and misconduct accountable for their actions. The removal of Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz, Deputy Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed, Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Phairoosch and many other Commissioned officers who have disgraced the service is also needed right now.

Until then, unprofessional police action carried out purely for the purposes of intimidating members of the public that the political and politicised leadership of MPS feel threatened by is not going to turn the tide of public resentment against the police.

Sabra Noordeen was former Director of Police Intelligence during the Nasheed administration

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30 thoughts on “Comment: “Unprofessional police action” will not turn the tide of public resentment”

  1. Let me think... Sabra is a close family relative of Nasheed. Sabra is only 26 years old with vitually no experience in the intelligence field and yet Nasheed appointed her to the Director of Intelligence of Police.

  2. @ Saabe is only one part of your brain functioning? Regardless of her merits in getting her former job here we are talking about her being handcuffed and paraded in the airport and transferred to Male on a speedboat while still handcuffed all just to read her some summons. It's intimidation tactics pure n simple and no citizen should be put through this. Ablo Gazi shouldn't be the only one with rights in this country.

  3. so she must have been only 23 or 24 when she was appointed right Saabe. Must be a true genius! But then again we all know the 'work' she did at MPS to 'politicize' the entire organization. 'Politicizing' is apparently wrong only when done by the 'others'.

    However, I agree with Sabra that arbitrary arrests such as hers does not help Maldives Police Service to regain the public's trust it has quite clearly lost.

  4. What was this person doing as a director of Police Intelligence? No qualifications for the job whatsoever. Clear example of nasheed putting his family goons to top positions. He is no better than maumoon in that.
    Also wonder why she didnt accuse police of torture rape or attempted murder this time? She should make up a good story to keep MDP goons entertained.

  5. Reflective piece on policing in Maldives. Nicely done Sabra. We need more young people like you. Hold your head up. We will get there.

  6. This is the status of the country. A 26 year old given the position of Director of Intelligence at MPS. What a joke! Shows that she got her job only through connection, she hardly lived in the country but when her relative Nasheed got elected it didn't matter whether she had any relevant experience. In any other country this position would have been given to someone with many years of training, experience and commitment and her case is just one example of nepotism during Nasheed's time. This article is written for self promotion only and is basically a pointless descriptive piece.

  7. There are very few people of her caliber of that age. She is professional, learned, well read, intelligent and knows how to work with people.

  8. Sabra sounds like an intelligent competent person who can put things in it's context. Someone with both a vision as connections, probably will be deemed a threat by some corrupted politicians.

  9. Gentlemen, before you character assassinate a young woman, learn some facts. As far as I am aware, Sabra was an analyst in the Intelligence Department. She was a civilian and thus the title of Director did not mean she led the Department, but the civil service rank that was accorded to an individual with her academic qualifications and work experience. Before you continue, you may always to explore, compare, contrast the level of experience, the qualities needed, the skills required to work in such a department. How about you try and attack the content rather than the commentator?

  10. Sabras post in intelligence was not an appointed one. It was done through an advertised selective process.

  11. Saabe, I'm quite sure that Director of Intelligence in the Maldives basically means a senior analyst. Director of Intelligence doesn't quite mean the same thing that John Brennan does or John Negroponte or even Judi Dench did. The Director of Intelligence position in the Maldives is a civil service post and is basically someone who collects, collates and processes data. A job for which Ms. Noordeen (with a degree from politics from Sussex and a masters from the SOAS) is more than qualified. Her being Nasheed's cousin have very little relevance to the merits of her narrative and the wider point she is making.

  12. Typical Maldivian mentality. For heaven sake you become a responsible adult at age 18. At 26 Sabra proved to be a responsible person with a job. A cause she passionately believed in. She has the intelligence to work in that department and the wisdom & leadership to be part of the team. This may come as a surprised; some people were saved from the the drug loads of this country. She is one of the lucky ones. I have a lot of respect for Sabra.

  13. how does a young woman like Sabra be the head of intelligence ??? did she had prior experience in that field? or she got the post because she was a relative of Anni and former police commissioner? that right there is corruption. glad you are not in mps anymore.

  14. Ms. Sabra.
    Thank you very much for the last 4 paragraphs!
    It certainly gives me (unlike @Saabe) a comprehensive insight of the MPS!
    It is sad that the untanned have to live with what they are getting from the public!

    It cannot be said you think with a brain!
    Saying anything more is not going to do any good for a snob like you!

  15. I Think i can remember telling her that there is violence going up in the Junction and then only she new it and just said on loud voice.

    She was near her Great Grand Mother's House G,Canary Ge with Usey he cosine sister Playing to getter running up and down on the small lake. and I told both of the there must be a time Play and the Must be time to be serious they simply not bothered what Going on with the Police

  16. In Maldives you are considered a woman at 11 or 15 and is considered competent to make adult decisions and rape and child abuse on the 11 or 15 year old is considered consensual sex!! But when a 26 year old woman with a Masters becomes an analyst she is considered too young and incompetent! This is our country. And @aa pls read the comments hopefully you'll figure out she wasn't the head of intelligence!!

  17. There is no need to comment on the content really. Just as it might have been wrong to arrest her (the merits of which can be debated), it was or might have been also wrong to 'appoint' her to such a high-rank post to begin with. The whole thing is political, her appointment and even her arrest.

    What is more interesting is how shamefully we are taking sides (keke)- all the while hoping the readers can be misled? Perhaps even score some points or make an impression in favor of ones own political views or blind allegiance.

    We must put greater trust in the common sense of average folk. They see nowadays through the lies we weave and our deceit actually (our intentions maybe right, but at what cost).

    The MDP vision may have been honest, serene and righteous to begin with- yet 'today' it does seem to go against the basic creed, preferences and ideations of many, many people in this country (this is not Sussex). We must acknowledged where we have gone wrong, there is nothing wrong in this. It doesn't mean MDP hasn't done good for this country also. Somewhere along the way we might have gone wrong somewhere.

    Nasheed family came from the Bronx of Maale if my intel is not wrong (keke), their influence in MDP politics has thus reflected this. Something which everyday folk would have admired and identified with (respect). It was their style or way of doing things. However the scandals which surround them have now nearly buried any good that might have been in their many years venture to 'change governments' and themselves govern in its place (replace themselves with it), and thus show us what 'government' really could mean. It was an experiment and all Dhivehin` are learning from it.

    Much more could be said.

    My only bias is, and I just want to say, that I think Miss. Sabra Noordeen is so beautiful. I have no doubt she leaves the men in her company mesmerized.

    Every Maldivian is a niche, a family, Anni knows this. Like they, the rest also must then be heard. Make peace with Adalat president commandant Anni.


  18. Reading the comments I am sure that some time machine somewhere worked because the comments seem to be from a time when she was appointed director. and not when she was arrested.

  19. Well written piece. The comments made here does not take away from what Sabra has said. She held a director level job which is normal for anyone with a degree and masters. The old guard does not like young people with brains, the character assassination shows how insecure this regime is about intelligent young people.

  20. "The reason for the arrest was 'inciting violence against the police and obstructing police duty' ".

    Pure and simple intimidation and a very cowardly act. They knew they had nothing to pin on her. The only way they could intimidate this young woman in the worst possible way was probably this. By giving her a "warm" welcome back to her country and leaving her handcuffed whilst on the high seas.

    There are laws agains the latter! Sabra should duly file a case against MPS for just that alone. The notorious MPS deliberately put in her in a position where she would almost certainly have drowned if the boat capsized. The Human Rights laws that the Maldives have signed up to prohibit such barbarism.

  21. sabra rocks! you baagees eat your heart out. i was an eyewitness to that little fracas on majidimagu. u people just pontificate from the safety of your computers, sitting in your comfortable rooms, thanks to minivan. get out, see what is going on, if only sometimes.

  22. Informative.. The gangster like maneuvering of the Maldives police is further exposed by this piece and by what they tried to do to Sabra.. This was common practice in the 30 year dictatorship of Gayoom, whom many now believe was the mastermind behind the 7 Feb 2012 coup de' etat... They would have only wanted to humiliate Sabra and further antagonize the party which she supports... Unlike the women from Gayoom's clan who mostly work behind the curtains.. MDP supporters like Sabra are upfront, smart, articulate and intelligent.. they are also brave and straightforward... Police Commissioner Riyaz, your days are being counted!

  23. Ms. Sabra was not appointed. The job was advertised she applied and was recruited on merit. Just because of gender and that she is a relative of Nasheed she cannot be sidelined in getting employment. What is wrong with Maldivians to day. Are you all getting crazy with politics.

  24. I would like to inform Sabra Noordeen that the recent crime sprees that the "MPS" has carried out has made them no different from a local criminal gang funded by politicians.

    So when the citizens have had enough of being beaten, raped, mutilated, and humiliated by those thugs in uniform, they'll rise up, bloodthirsty and blind with rage.

  25. @Alex

    She was born into a heretic family. It is not her fault.

    The struggles of her has not really been documented by the rest of us. She is also indicative of the situation of some youth in this county; caught in the cross-fire, on the fence, and hoping at least one side succeeds in convincing them of the 'life' they should choose.

    I too concur, she is gorgeous- shows how she fights parental and family, peer pressures actually, to remain independent, and uninfluenced (at least that's the attempt). A very private, reclusive girl too, in many contexts. Not exactly a signature dish of MDP, tainted by it nonetheless 🙁

    Keep up your good work, for your country. Don't forget you country.

  26. Good on you Sabra. You could have ducked the issue but you did not. You can hold your head high and set an example to the rest of us. Courage, a clear head and a love for your countryfolk. That is what shines through. You and many before and after you will continue to show people the difference between true courage and sheer cowardice. Keep doing that, for there will be many opportunities by those who try the easy path of coercion as opposed to hard earned courage. And for those who keep accusing Sabra of being part of Gayoom style nepotism: believe it or not there are some of us who are willing to do what it takes for our country to the best of our ability. Stay cynical and do nothing or choose to believe and act: it is always a choice. We all know what Sabra chose and anyone with an ounce of decency would either keep quiet or applaud her for her dignity - more dignified at 26 than many wannabe gentlemen I can name but who aren't even worth a mention on the same page. Cowards, dream on.

  27. Sabra is way more qualified to be a 'Director' or hold any other senior position at the Maldives Police Service than those such as Fairoosh who think doing a Master's Degree without a Bachelor's Degree (and spelling the name Fairoosh with a Ph) qualify him to be the head of Intelligence or Shameem who has no formal education whatsoever. Sabra was an analyst and to be an analyst one requires academic understanding of the issues and ability to think and make sense of what is brought before them.

  28. @Buckweed

    Thou must be running a simulation of my brain, in your brain. I am perplexed, truly. Which is my way of saying- I agree to a great extent.

    It is also only apt that we know more about the former Dir. of Intelligence. She must know more about us- that's why 😉
    No reason this 'war' cannot be merry eh.

  29. The Chief Intelligence officer didnt see the alleged coup coming. Hmmm

    Its a good thing she isnt in charge of Intelligence anymore..

    Verdict: FAIL


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