Opposition leaders arrested in late-night crackdown

Minivan News brings live coverage of the ‘May Day’ anti-government protest. The government has labeled the protest a coup attempt.

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3:15am: The police have arrested MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed and Jumhooree Party deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim from their homes.

In a tweet, Ameen said: “Police have come for me. Everyone, stay strong.”

The arrests came hours after police said they would take action against the organisers of May Day’s anti-government protest. Two policemen were injured when clashes erupted between riot police and protesters earlier this evening. Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla was arrested at 11:00pm. The police say an additional 193 were arrested.

The MDP, Adhaalath Party and members of the Jumhooree Party allied last month over a crackdown on politicians including ex president Mohamed Nasheed and ex defence minister Mohamed Nazim. The pair were sentenced to 13 and 11 years in jail, respectively, in trials criticised widely over lack of due process.

2:15am: Malé’s streets are empty.

1:35am: The police say they’ve made 193 arrests tonight. The opposition says it had recorded over 170 arrests. Many people who were arrested were released tonight after a brief detention.

1:15am: The Elections Commission has declared the opposition’s May Day protest violent suggesting it may take action against the Adhaalath Party and MDP.

The police have meanwhile circulated a video of the attack on police officers in a bid to identify perpetrators.

12:40am: The central junction is now open for traffic. Pockets of protesters remain. They say they will continue the protest tomorrow. Police presence is high.

12:20am: The police say the two police officers who were attacked in the protest suffered serious injuries and will be flown abroad for treatment.

12:10am: Dozens of police officers in riot gear are once again chasing protesters down Chaandhanee Magu and indiscriminately arresting people on the street. Crowd is dwindling.

At least 15 people have just been arrested and are being taken away on a State Trading Organization lorry.

11:50pm: The president’s office spokesperson in a tweet said President Abdulla Yameen and the government will no longer negotiate with Sheikh Imran. The Adhaalath Party president was arrested at 11:00 pm.

11:45pm: The Adhaalath Party says the court warrant for Sheikh Imran’s arrest said he is attempting to oust the government. He was arrested from MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed’s apartment.

11:40pm: MP Ahmed Mahloof rallies protesters at Chaandhanee Magu. At least a hundred riot police have charged with batons into the crowd and are chasing protesters towards the city’s central junction.

11:25pm: Arrests continue on Chaandhanee Magu. Some who were arrested earlier in the evening are being given phone calls to family members, but lawyers say police are still denying them access.

11:20pm: Adhaalath Party confirms Sheikh Imran’s arrest.

11:15pm: The opposition says police have arrested Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla and are now looking for MDP chairperson Ali Waheed.

11:10pm: Opposition leaders including MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Jumhooree Party deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim remain with hundreds on Chaandhanee Magu. Protest songs are blaring from speakers.

10:50pm. Police have chased dozens of protesters into a narrow lane where the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives is located, and trapped them by physically blocking the lane at the two ends. The police are now arresting the people trapped in the lane. Many appear to have been pepper sprayed. The crowd remains strong.

10:40pm: The police integrity commission has issued a statement declaring the protests to be violent. The statement said protesters had confronted police, verbally abused them, thrown pavement bricks and bottles at police officers. The PIC noted a lorry used in the protest had charged into police lines at dusk, and said the police were patient and had used limited force in controlling protests. The PIC noted protesters had also suffered injuries in clashes.

Read the statement in Dhivehi here.

10:20pm: Opposition aligned Raajje TV say police have ordered its journalists to move out from the cordoned areas behind police lines, limiting its ability to cover the protest. The station’s cameraman Sajid, who was injured by a glass bottle thrown from the crowd of protesters, is receiving medical treatment at ADK hospital.

10:15pm: The opposition says records show at least 76 people have now been arrested. They include former MPs Ahmed Easa and Ibrahim ‘Bonda’ Rasheed. Police are charging into the crowd and arresting more people.

10:10pm. Police have entered a private residence on Majeedhee Magu and confiscated a pair of megaphones that was reportedly broadcasting opposition aligned Raajje TV’s live coverage of the protest.

Dozens of police in riot gear are active at the city’s central junction.

10:00pm: Violence on Chaandhanee Magu as police use stun grenades and pepper spray to disperse protesters. Police baton charged into the crowd and have now pushed back protesters to Majeedhee Magu.

9:40pm: Clashes between protesters and police erupt on Chaandhanee Magu. Minivan News observed police officers chasing protesters into a narrow lane and arresting at least 15 people. They were then put on a truck which drove off at high speed.

One policeman fell and was beaten severely by the protesters. Police are now indiscriminately beating protesters with batons.

Raajje TV cameraman injured.

9:35pm: Opposition leaders are appealing to protesters to converge on Chaandhaanee Magu.

In an interview with Raajje TV, MDP parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said: “Everyone who came out this evening, come with us again. Come forward with us as we attempt to end this brutality.”

MP Mahloof said: “We knew they will brutalize us, that they will use pepper spray and stun granades. How many did they detonate? They just used rubber bullets earlier. Everyone who came out this evening, come again.”

9:20pm: Thousands remain in pockets on Chaandhanee Magu. Angry protesters continue calls for ex president’s release. Arrests are growing. Atleast nine arrested at the area in the past 20 minutes. Minivan News observed police officers carrying an unconscious protester.

The opposition’s detainee hotline says it has recorded the arrest of 60 people so far. Police are refusing lawyers access to detainees.

Minivan News observed protesters throw two glass bottles at the line of riot police.

9:00pm: Minivan News is receiving reports of brutality by the police as they continue making arrests.

8:55pm: MDP lawyer Nazim Sattar says eight lawyers are awaiting permission from the police to provide legal counsel for those arrested from the protest today.

8:45pm: MP Ahmed Mahloof says police used rubber bullets and stun guns at the Chaandhanee Magu, and says he was beaten with batons. He has called for more protesters to converge at the city’s main junction.

8:40pm: According to the opposition’s detainee hotline at least 36 protesters have been arrested so far. The number could be as high as 50, an official said. The police have declined to reveal the exact numbers of arrests.

Minivan News observed police officers beating protesters with batons and pepper spraying fallen protesters as they charged into the crowd in front of the fish market at dusk.

8:30pm: Chief superintendent Abdulla Nawaz spoke to the press at 8:00pm outside police headquarters. He said the police had facilitated the march at first, but said the call at dusk to pray at the Islamic Center which is inside a green zone is unlawful. Noting a lorry used at the protest had charged at high speed into police lines, Nawaz said the protest is no longer peaceful. The police are considering action against protest organizers, he said.

7:50pm – Protesters on the streets appear to be confused after conflicting announcements about the area for regrouping. The MDP secretariat has asked supporters to gather at Chandhanee Magu near Amininya School. MP Mahloof, MDP MPs, and other senior members are at the area now.

Protesters who gathered near social centre have also marched to Chandhanee Magu.

Tourism minister Adeeb has meanwhile declared the May Day protest a failure while home minister Umar Naseer vowed that the government will never release Nasheed.

7:32pm – Protesters are heading towards the social centre following an announcement to regroup at the area at 8:00pm. The crowd on the outer road is now a few hundred.

7:30pm – Specialist Operations (SO) officers on a police vehicle are driving at high speed at protesters on Chandhanee Magu, forcing protesters to disperse into side alleys. The Chandhanee Magu-Fareedhee Magu junction is littered with bottles, flags, placards and discarded slippers.

Meanwhile, police have pushed back protesters on the outer road to the Maldives Ports Limited area.

7:25pm – Police have said that an officer was injured after a protest pickup drove through police barricades at high speed and broke through police lines. The officer is undergoing treatment.

Police have declared that the opposition protest is not peaceful and will be dispersed by police and the military.

7:11pm – Police have charged the protesters near the fish market and arrested several people.

7:07pm – A crowd of protesters near the Salsa Royal restaurant are heading towards the fish market area on the outer road.


7:04pm – Police have used tear gas again against protesters on the outer road. Protesters have been pushed back to the local market area. Police have warned that weapons will be used to disperse the crowd.

7:02pm – An arrested female protester near Seagull appears to be in serious condition after being pepper sprayed multiple times. Police have said an ambulance is on the way. Several arrests have been made in the area.

6:50pm – Military officers are readying water cannons. A police commander at the area told Minivan News that police earlier let a protest pickup pass beyond the barricade. It was stopped near the Islamic Centre.

Protesters on the outer road had thrown bottles, placards and other projectiles at police. Police used pepper spray and pushed the protesters back. Minivan News saw police beating two protesters with batons and pepper spray a man after he fell down.

6:46pm – Police have fired a stun gun grenade at protesters near the Chandanee Magu junction. At least six people have been arrested. A large number of military officers in full riot gear are also in the area as backup to police.

6:40pm – Police have used tear gas against the crowd on both the outer road and near Seagull cafe. Opposition leaders are in Boduthakurufaanu Magu. Police have declared that the protest is not peaceful and issued a last warning to disperse the crowd, saying “modern weapons” will be used and police will not bear responsibility for any injuries.

6:29pm – Police have also charged the crowd on Boduthakurufaanu Magu near the fish market. Clashes have erupted between protesters and riot police. Police are using pepper spray and pushing protesters back.

6:24pm – Police have used pepper spray and charged protesters near the STO trade centre.

6:22pm – Protesters are marching towards the Islamic Centre from three directions: Orchid Magu, Fareedhee Magu, and Boduthakurufaanu Magu. However, police and military have blocked all roads leading to the mosque with barricades. People in the area have been told to go pray at other mosques.

6:13pm – The crowd is chanting ‘Allah Akbar’ and heading towards the Islamic centre to perform dusk prayers.

6:08pm – Imran is leading the crowd in prayer. He prayed for God to grant protesters the courage to remain steadfast and persevere and to save the people from the “brutal” and “devious” of president Yameen and Adeeb.

6:00pm – Imran called on police not to “shed the blood” of protesters on Adeeb’s orders. The government’s tyranny will come to an end today, he said. The opposition alliance leaders will issue instructions on how the protest will proceed.

MDP chairperson Ali Waheed is now addressing the crowd, saying protesters will go home after securing ex-president Nasheed’s release.

5:55pm – President Yameen and tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb knows who killed MP Afrasheem Ali, says Sheikh Imran. He accused police commissioner Hussain Waheed and Adeeb of framing ex-defence minister Nazim. Adeeb is connected to international criminal organisations and President Yameen can only remain in power after negotiating with the opposition and signing an agreement, he said.

5:38pm – Protesters have started sitting down. Former ruling party MP Ahmed Mahloof is now addressing the crowd, saying protesters need to save the country from the “corruption” and “brutality” of President Abdulla Yameen’s regime.

5:33pm – “Today is a historic day,” says JP deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim. The opposition alliance is on the street to end bring an end to a “brutal” government, he said, and urged protesters not to leave the area. Loudspeakers have been set up at across Majeedhee Magu and other areas of the capital

5:21pm – Former Islamic minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari is addressing protesters at the western end of Majeedhee Magu. Standing up against brutality and tyranny is obligatory upon all Muslim, he said.

5:10pm – The tail end of the march is at the Henveiru stadium with about 200 protesters on motorbikes. The front line has reached other end of Majeedhee Magu. Minivan News estimates a turnout of at least 20,000.



5:00pm – The protest march currently spans more than half the length of Majeedhee Magu with several protesters still at artifical beach while the front line of the march has gone past Chandhanee Magu. Protesters are walking at a fast pace.

4:55pm – Protesters are chanting for Nasheed and Nazim’s release. The march has gone past Alikilegefaanu Magu now. Quran is playing on the protest pickup sound system. The tail end of the march is still at artificial beach.



4:52pm – The protest march has reached Sosun Magu.



4:50pm – MDP chairperson Ali Waheed, Sheik Imran, MDP MPs, and leaders of the Jumhooree Party (JP) are on the front line of the march.


4:43pm – The protest march has got underway with protesters streaming out of the artificial beach. The march is headed west on Majeedhee Magu. Protesters are carrying national flags as well as banners and placards calling for the release of former president Nasheed and ex-defence minister Nazim.

4:34pm – Leaders of the opposition ‘Maldivians against tyranny’ alliance have arrived at artificial beach, including main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party chairperson Ali Waheed and Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla. Addu City Mayor Abdulla Sodiq and senior members of the MDP are also at the artificial beach.

4:15pm – The area around Artificial Beach has been closed to traffic as protesters continue to arrive.

May Day 415

4:10pm – The opposition has set up a hotline for supporters to report arrests. They are 9666060 and 7730044.

3:57pm – Hundreds of people have started gathering at the artificial beach. Protesters are making their way to the eastern end of the capital’s main thoroughfare, Majeedhee Magu.

3:48pm – According to the union for resort workers, six resorts near the capital cancelled their weekend ferry to Malé today in a bid to prevent employees from participating in the protest. They are Meeru Island resort, Veligandu Island resort, Kuredhu Island resort, Komandoo Island resort, and Jumeirah Vittaveli, the Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives said.

3:45pm – Police officers involved in today’s operation have been given a briefing outside the police headquarters. Police told the protest organisers yesterday to suspend activities between dusk and evening prayers and to end the demonstration at midnight. 002

3:30pm – Over a thousand opposition supporters prayed for imprisoned ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim at noon today and for the courage to remain steadfast at a mass anti-government protest this afternoon.

The Maldives has been gripped by political turmoil since February with daily protests over what the opposition calls a lurch towards authoritarianism. Calls for revolution are growing on social media, with supporters saying they will bring an end to President Abdulla Yameen’s “tyranny” today.

The opposition rally will begin at 3:45pm from Malé’s artificial beach. The police swept the area at 2:00pm at the request of protest organisers. Three rusty knives were found, but the police say they are not connected to the protest. Thousands of opposition supporters have traveled from Maldives’ remote atolls to Malé this week to join the protest.

The government has accused the opposition Maldivians against tyranny coalition of plotting a coup, and say the police and army are at standby to break up any unlawful activities. Three were arrested late last night on suspicion of planning arson attacks and violence.

The president’s office spokesperson in a tweet said: “This government remains steadfast in upholding the law at any day, any time, any situation.”

Amnesty International has called on the police to refrain from using excessive force against protesters today.

The EU parliament yesterday called on the government to release Nasheed immediately.


6 thoughts on “Opposition leaders arrested in late-night crackdown”

  1. Male cannot contain all these people. The president and his party could never command such numbers even if they emptied state financial reserves to bribe its members. When people believe in a cause they will come. No free air-conditioners required!

  2. Imran calling out for our freedom. What a joke. And protestors calling out for the freedom of Nazim.
    People open your eyes and see who got us into this hell hole in the first place

  3. For the sake of fair media. Minivan news pls post this comment. Link shows that although most protesters were peaceful. We have seen dozens of violent protesters today.

    1. Geygaovvaatha thalhaigathee?
      Dhenves geyga ovey dhivehinnge leyohoruvan amurukureema.

  4. Yet another lesson in multiparty democracy and party politics is learnt!

  5. All this talk of violence amongst protesters. What a cheek. Violence breeds more violence. And we all know without a doubt who started all this violence. Welcome to the gangster's paradise.


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