EU concerned over escalating “political tension” while MDP commits to “direct action”

The EU has slammed an “escalation of political tension and violent protests” in the Maldives as police confirmed that 50 people – including a former cabinet minister – were arrested during the last two days during anti-government demonstrations.

However, with the arrest of 32 demonstrators in the last 24 hours, as well as a government decision to clear the MDP’s Usfasgandu protest site by July 30, some opposition figures have claimed the tension will likely intensify further.

Spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has said there remained “deep concern” in Europe over the political unrest in the Maldives.

“The High Representative is convinced that continued political unrest, heavy-handed responses by security forces, and charges filed against political leaders will only lead to further deterioration of the political climate in the country and will adversely affect the lives of all Maldivian citizens,” stated the EU.

“The High Representative acknowledges the efforts of the Commonwealth Special Envoy, Sir Don McKinnon, to strengthen the Maldives Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) whose purpose it is to establish an objective account of the events which led to the resignation of President Nasheed and the transfer of power to the present Government on 7 February 2012. She appeals to all parties to refrain from any actions that could jeopardise completion of the Commission of National Inquiry’s work, including legal action against political leaders”.

The calls followed a statement released by the Commonwealth this week urging all parties to show “restraint and restore calm” as initiatives like the reconstituted Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).  The CNI, expected to be completed by next month, was  established to ascertain the truth between February’s controversial transfer of power.

In a statement released Tuesday (July 17), Commonwealth Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Maldives, Sir Donald McKinnon called for dialogue among political leaders, urging all parties to show “restraint and restore calm.”

“Direct action”

During the last two weeks, the MDP has been carrying out what it has called “direct action” protests.

While the opposition party has continued to contend that its protests have been “largely peaceful”, the ongoing demonstrations have at times broken out into violent clashes. This violence has led to allegations of police brutality against demonstrators, and counter claims of protesters attacking reporters and security forces.

The MDP today said it expected its protests, stated to continue until the present government of Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan “topples” would continue indefinitely. The MDP alleges that the Waheed administration came to power in February through a “coup d’etat” and therefore had no legitimacy.

Party MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor claimed that the MDP was committed to managing “peaceful, disciplined” protests, though he accepted that violent confrontations appeared to be increasing between police and protesters. He alleged that this violence was a result of law enforcement officials increasingly showing a “lack of discipline” on their part.

The Maldives Police Service has contended that to continues to use “minimum force” to protect its officers during the demonstrations.

Conversely, while police have said that none of its officers were hurt in the last 24 hours – there have been serious and minor injuries sustained by police during attacks by individuals suspected of being affiliated with anti-government demonstrators.

On July 12, an attack around Dhilbahaaru Magu in Male’ saw one officer having to fly to Sri Lanka for treatment for head injuries received from an assault with a pavement brick.

Minivan News has observed protests in recent weeks switching from heckling and mocking of officers at police barricades to violent confrontations as police have charged through protests lines, and demonstrators themselves broke through barricades to confront police.

Police have come under particular criticism by the MDP for using pepper spray directly in the faces of protesters – an accusation denied by law enforcement authorities.

“Maldives Police did not use any excessive force nor was pepper spray directed to anyone’s face,” police said in a statement at the time.

However a video released of the incident showed a riot police officer reaching over a crowd of people surrounding Nasheed and spraying him in the face. Nasheed turns away as the spray hits him, and is taken away by his supporters, but later returned to the protest.

In this environment, the government has itself called for “calm”, urging all political leaders to abandon the street protests, which have attracted international attention over the last few weeks, and sit down for “sincere dialogue”.

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza was not responding at time of press.

Amid the calls for an end to protests and fresh talks, the Ministry of Housing has issued an ultimatum for the MDP to vacate the Usfasgandu protest area in the next nine days.

Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz claimed the decision to evict the MD from the site was not linked to the current anti-government protests, but rather a reaction to how the opposition had used their land for partisan purposes.

Muiz told Minivan News that the land, which had controversially been leased to the MDP Male’ City Council, an elected body with a majority representation for the opposition party, belonged to the government.

“As far as I’m concerned there is no doubt of the legality [of clearing the site],” he said.

Amidst the current political tension in the capital, Dr Muiz said that the timing of the decision had “nothing to do” with continued protests being carried out by the party.

“We have already handed in our development plans for the area,” he said. “There is a clear mandate of what should have been developed on [Usfasgandu]. The MDP have ignored these rules and have developed it into their own party property.”

MDP MP Ghafoor responded that “there was no doubt” that the Housing Ministry’s decision was in retaliation for continuing its protests in the capital.

“Judging from the current mood of the people, the [housing] minister’s threats will be taken as irrelevant now. People just aren’t listening any more to what they see as a coup government,” he claimed.

Ghafoor also alleged that all ministers aligned with the present government were viewed as having no legitimacy among MDP members, from the State Islamic minister up to President Waheed himself.

However, with international organisations including the UN, the EU and the Commonwealth all calling on politicians to adhere to a peaceful resolution to the nation’s political upheaval, Ghafoor said that protests would continue as previously pledged by the party.

“I do not think the issue here is whether our protests are sustainable, it is more about the fact the whole political situation in this country unsustainable,” he claimed.

Despite the alleged incidence of violence linked to police and protesters alike, Ghafoor contended that the MDP remained committed to “disciplined, peaceful” protests.

“As long as the party keeps the foresight to try and manage protests, we are trying to channel the energy and dissatisfaction of people into something more positive,” he claimed.

Ghafoor conceded that it was apparent that protests were becoming more violent as peoples’ frustrations grew, a sign he claimed that was reflected in the amount of footage and photos of protests that were being found on social media sites like Facebook depicting alleged acts of violence by authorities.

“I think that protests show a direct correlation between the level of oppression and the resultant uprisings,” he added. “If you look at Bahrain , they have lived with repression all their lives, so have we. But we are seeing the kids coming out on the streets to show their anger,” he said.

Ghafoor alleged that police were failing to keep control of the present situation and may be turning to young inexperienced officers to try and control it.


More than 50 people are believed to have been arrested during two nights of protests in the capital – 22 were said to have been arrested in the early hours of Friday (July 20) morning, the first day of Ramazan.

Among those arrested were former Transport Minister Adil Saleem, who was detained on Thursday evening but later released under house arrest, according to the MDP.

The MDP also alleged that Saleem had sustained “abdominal injuries” during his arrest as a result of “excessive force” used to detain him by police. Ghafoor claimed that Saleem was eventually taken to Hulhumale’ hospital for treatment, though was advised that he should be transferred to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hosptial (IGMH) in Male’. Police were then reported to have opted against returning the former minister to the capital.

The MDP has also claimed that the protesters who had been arrested were not given food during breakfast whilst being held.

“Legal necessities”

In response to the 32 people confirmed to have been arrested following this morning’s protests, police claimed that detentions were made after repeated warnings to not to cross the police lines and to not to obstruct police duty.

“The protesters who came into the ‘no protesting zone’ claimed that they were there to call for early elections and voice against the government. But the protesters that came into this zone had resorted to using foul language and harassment to the police officers” read the statement.

Following the confrontations, those that were arrested were given the opportunity to breakfast and all other legal necessities were provided to them, according to police.

Among the legal necessities provided to the arrestees were, having a medical check up to see if there is any sort of physical harm caused to the arrestee and providing the opportunity to seek assistance of a legal counsel. The families of the arrested were also contacted.

Police have claimed that among 32 arrested, four were tested positive for drugs. Those tested positive were Ismail Abdulla, Mohamed Sabah, Aishath Laisha Abdullah and Hussain Mufeedh, police said.

Police claimed that Aishath Laisha was the only female arrested in today’s protests.


13 thoughts on “EU concerned over escalating “political tension” while MDP commits to “direct action””

  1. I don't comment anymore, u becoming bagee by publishing foul language about mda but not reactions on that

  2. Laisha hardly had a thing to squeeze but two coward officers deliberately squeezed her breast during the arrest. And look how these animals are laughing ??

  3. We have to focus on the constitution. Right now, the rich are using the all the tools to maintain status quo. They have given a whip to the Islamists to manage the ignorants to blind obedience. It is easier for the rich, if the majority of the population do not ask critical questions.

    The sheikhs are just screwdrivers in a game of wits masterminded by the resort owners.

    The intimidation strategy by the sheikhs is tantamount to raping of the minds of gullible. Yet they claim this is the best of both worlds?

    Please people. Using your brains. The creator has given a mind to think, so please use it. The current mind game they are playing has all the flaws of a human creation.

  4. @lol

    "Laisha hardly had a thing to squeeze but two coward officers deliberately squeezed her breast during the arrest"

    Unbelievable that you would write something like this.

    Would you say this about your mother, grandmother, or female relatives, girlfriend or wife?

    Laishas is someones daughter, granddaughter, niece, girlfriend /wife and would be mother ( I don't know her, for all I know she is a mother)

    Wake up and look at yourself and how deeply you have disconnected yourself from basic norms of decency.

    What is it about you men that you feel you have a right to write about us and our body parts the way you do?

    How would you like it if we asked you to pull down your shorts so we can have a look at how big (or should I say how small) your noodle is?

    As for the Police , we all know what they are doing to our women detainees. And I include women police officers in this. I have spoken to women who have been stripped, asked to do sit ups infront of police officers and other inmates completely nude. I have heard about women poice officers speaking absolute filth at our women detainees.Yes, filth. This is Sexual harrasment and intimidation.

    Shahinda, where ARE you? Azra Where ARE you?

  5. I thought it was part of the rules of engagement in dealing with protestors to use female officers when arresting women.

    Were all the female officers busy cooking roadh food at sifainge mess hall for the coup boys? Why arrest so many people anyway. The police just panicked and went on an arrest spree.

    This is a coup government. Police and MNDF is now more a political party than a service to this nation.m

  6. when this bitch was trying to show his power obviously , the police need more men to arrest her.

    This video shows more of her arrogant behavior than anything else.

    MDP can continue to ruin this country but will never will the hearts and minds of majority of Maldivian.

    Only the way to win any election in this country is to step down Anni and then get a decent leader to come out from the party and eradicate the cult behavior from the party.

    MDP is still the largest political party and will continue to be but they need some radical changes to bring to the leadership. People like Ibu and then need to play a major role there and not just a puppet to the master Anni.

  7. mode,

    Today she is the bitch. Tomorrow the bitch is your 16 yr old daughter, doesn't have to be done on the street too, from the bedroom of your house.

    Such is the power of armed forces who grant themselves power, back by a runaway judiciary who regulate their own watchdog.

    Peoples rights will never be respected by any government unless the government was elected by the people. And for an elected government to function, the institutions need to function.

    Continue to feed the crocodiles mode, until they come for your daughter.

  8. @shafeea there was nothing wrong with what I said as far as I know. Yes if it was one of my relative or girlfriend if someone did grab her/their breasts I can say aloud and say what I saw. And what I said was correct according what I saw.

    Talking about decency? LOL what a Joke. I was trying to defend her. I could say she was sexually harassed. When I make it less formal is there anyway possible I could write that? the problem is not the breast being small. It was the officer squeezing It and I was quite much defending her here. You only picked up half of what I said.

    Well in Maldives you cannot talk about adultery or you cannot talk about sex or sexual education. ?? Like no one else is having sex there. Look how the population is increasing. Because no one dares to talk? Decency isn't it ??

  9. @peasant: Your sense of humanity is what is really needed... Reading your comments is like tasting something wholesome and healthy in a meal otherwise full of... sweet, irresistible POISON!


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