Hunger strike moves into the 8th day

Maldivian hunger-strikers, arrested after the 12-13th August pro-democracy rally in Male’, have begun their 8th day without food.

Fourteen detainees remain on hunger strike, which started when prisoners in Dhoonidoo Jail refused to break their Ramzan fast on Thursday of last week. The prisoners are striking over their prolonged detention, without charge in solitary confinement, when investigations into their alleged crimes of the 12-13th August appear to be over. Families of the detainees report that the prisoners have not been interviewed by the authorities for weeks.

Those on hunger strike are known to include Ahmed Shafeeq MP, Abdulla Rasheed, MDP Council Member Mohamed Ziyad, Ismail Asif, Saaz Waleed, Shaihk Fareed and Shuaib Ali.

On 7th November 2004, the warden at the interrogation center, Staff Sergeant Ibrahim Manik, requested the wives, relatives and friends of those on hunger strike to go to the interrogation center on Dhoonidhoo Island. Five close associates of the detainees did speak to them. Sources quoting the detainees say that the detainees believe that it is up to the detaining authorities to normalise the situation.

On 10th November, the Maldivian government transferred four detainees from jail to house arrest in Male’. Ilyas Hussein Ibrahim, Ahmed Manik (AKA: Dhumburi), Ahmed Athif (AKA: Soney) and Mohamed Yousuf Fulhu left jail after 88 days in solitary confinement.

The Maldivian Democratic Party in a statement this week said: “The continued detention of those protesting, friends believe, is to thwart their opportunity to participate, some to contest, in the forthcoming general elections, for which the application deadline is the 15th November… Mr.Shuaib Ali, a pro-democracy activist of repute and a would-be candidate in the forthcoming general elections, is believed to be alternating between unconsciousness and fainting spells. His worsening health is causing much distress to family members and friends.” Shuaib Ali has reportedly asked to make his will.

The Maldivian government has played down the hunger strike, claiming many of the hunger strikers are eating dates. The families of the hunger strikers have denied the charge.