The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned attacks on police officers and called for peaceful protest, in a statement released on Friday.
According to the police, four uniformed officers have been attacked in the past week, sustaining injuries that required hospital treatment.
The most recent attack took place on Thursday night near Malé city’s carnival area. A police officer on traffic patrol was stabbed in the back of his neck, and has now been flown abroad for treatment, police have reported.
Three men armed with knives entered another police officer’s house on Wednesday, but the police officer was unharmed, police said. A total of 16 have been arrested over these attacks.
The MDP said it recognizes “high levels of public animosity towards police officers with regards to their involvement in the February 7 coup, overthrowing the first democratically elected Government in the Maldives, and their subsequent brutal crackdown on unarmed civilians”.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned on February 7 after the army joined a police mutiny. Nasheed later claimed he was forced to resign under duress. He led a march through Malé city on February 8, which MDP claims was dispersed with brutal force.
However, the MDP urged the public to express themselves through peaceful protest. Further, the party expressed concern over police’s alleged attempts to frame the MDP in relation to attacks on police.
President Mohamed Waheed Hassan has accused Nasheed’s supporters of attacks on police officers on Twitter. A President’s Office statement on 19 March also accused “sympathisers of MDP” of torching the Auction Shop in Malé.
The MDP claimed women detained on 19 March were sexually harassed. “This includes demanding some women detained on Monday, 19 March, to strip and squat a number of times while under police custody, and the use of inappropriate language,” the statement read.
“The MDP would like to remind the Police of their responsibility in upholding the law, and respecting the fundamental rights of all those detained,” the statement said.
The party noted an increase in the use of Stop and Search powers and condemned it as “a form of intimidation against MDP activists,” and called on the police to follow “appropriate behavior” as outlined in the Police Powers Act.
Police spokesperson Hassan Haneef said all search procedures were conducted according to the law, and denied sexual harassment claims. He also said the public can lodge complaints with the Human Rights Commission and Police Integrity Commission if they had been mistreated.