The Criminal Court has released the majority of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) demonstrators arrested over the weekend, on the condition they abide by an 8pm-8am curfew for one month.
The court release all but five of the 36 people arrested during demonstrations on Friday. One of the seven people arrested on Saturday has been released, while the others were yet to appear before court at time of press.
Those arrested included former Transport Minister Adil Saleem, who had his detention extended for a further five days.
Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef confirmed that the 8pm to 8am curfew was being issued by the courts, but referred Minivan News to the courts when asked if this conflicted with the constitution’s provision for freedom of assembly.
“We are not trying to stop people from protesting, we have no issue with that,” he said.
One protester who was arrested on Friday afternoon and released the following day told Minivan News that the court had released him “on the condition I stay at home between 8pm-6pm, and don’t go near crowds.”
The protester said he had attended the protest on Friday after the MDP’s ‘Kula Yellow’ Facebook page claimed – incorrectly – that the protest “was being livecast by the BBC and CNN.”
He said he was watching a female protester – Laisha Abdulla – being arrested, when somebody stepped on his slipper and caused him to lose it just as police pushed the crowds back.
“I asked for my slipper back, but when I went to get it I was arrested and charged with beating police and obstructing police duty,” he claimed.
The protester was taken with a group of 17 people on a police launch to the island of Dhoonidhoo, and put in a cell with 40 people “and three toilets”.
Those arrested were given a bottle water on the way, roshi and mashuni for Ramazan breakfast, and juice and fishcakes two hours later. At midnight they were given a lunch packet, three dates and a carton of Milo, he said.
“We were kept outside [the cell] until 3:30-4:00am. The next day at 1:30pm we were brought to court handcuffed,” he said. “The police were saying things like ‘Where’s your Twitter now?’, and saying that it would be another 30 years before [Nasheed] was able to return to power.”
Of the group arrest, 5-6 were detaining for a further five days – including Adil Saleem.
“I saw him in prison. He had an IV drip in his arm, and said he had internal bleeding after being hit in the stomach with a police radio,” the protester said.
One demonstrator was detained for a further 15 days “for apparently beating the Deputy Police Commissioner.”
While inside, the protester said he met a person who had been accused by police of throwing rocks at the government-aligned VTV television station in April.
“He asked for help as he’d been in there for five months with no court order or sentence,” the protester said.
Police Spokesperson Haneef denied knowledge of such a case, and said that all such allegations “should be brought to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) or the Police Integrity Commission (PIC). We are following police procedures and the constitution.”
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Youth Wing President Shauna Aminath, who was arrested and released the previous week, was given similar orders by the court not to attend protests for a month.
“Police came into a peaceful crowd [on July 13] and pulled me out,” she told Minivan News. “Mariyam Mohamed grabbed my hand and held on. We were both arrested.”
On the charge sheet, police accused her of moving police barricades, crossing the barricades, disrupting police duty, using foul language towards police, and inciting other people to disrupt the peace in the area, she said.
They confiscated her cell phone, and made her to do a drug test: “I said I had not been arrested for a drug offence, but anyway I did it.”
Those arrested for demonstrating were put into the same cell as “murderers, prostitutes and drug dealers”, she said. “I don’t go to protests to be arrested – it is a nuisance, I have work to do. The police and government are using the courts to intimidate pro-democracy demonstrators.”
Home Minister Mohamed Jameel has meanwhile called on demonstrators to use the country’s independent institutions rather than take to the streets and demonstrate.
“It will have long term effects on the Maldives’ economy, because there is a possibility that tourists may decide that the Maldives is no longer safe and peaceful,” Jameel told local newspaper Haveeru.
“The people during former President Mohamed Nasheed’s tenure took to the streets after the situation became really dire. But attempts were made to seek solutions from the relevant institutions,” he claimed.
Laisha Abdulla’s arrest on Friday: