Police have confirmed the arrest of thirteen Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members during a march held to commemorate a brutal police crackdown on peaceful protesters on February 8.
Hundreds set out from MDP’s protest camp at Usfasgandu area around 2:00pm in the afternoon and gathered near the government office complex Velanaage. Riot police set up barricades and blocked all streets leading to the area.
Police Spokesperson Hassan Haneef said the 13 arrested had attempted to cross police barricades and obstruct police duty. Minivan News also observed police confiscating several MDP flags.
“The police are categorically targeting, physically assaulting, harassing and torturing MDP members and parliamentarians,” MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News.
“The state’s independent institutions such as the Human Rights Commission (HRCM) have been noticeably silent even though international bodies have issued several reports on the matter,” he added.
The MDP has held regular and well-attended rallies since the transfer of power on February 7. The party alleges President Mohamed Nasheed was deposed in a coup d’état and have called for early elections.
Amnesty International has released multiple statements since the transfer of power on February 8, condemning excessive use of force against demonstrators. In its most recent statement on June 11, Amnesty noted police attacked, beat and pepper sprayed peaceful demonstrators, members of parliament, journalists and bystanders during an MDP protest on May 29.
However, police have denied Amnesty’s allegations, claiming only the “minimum required force” was used in arrests.
Fahmy raised concerns over criminal charges against MDP protesters while police brutality allegations remain uninvestigated.
He also condemned the Majlis’ silence regarding attacks on MDP parliamentarians. Several MDP MPs were assaulted and sustained severe injuries on February 8. Meanwhile, the police have filed charges against Fahmy for allegedly attacking a female police office on May 29. Fahmy said the charges had been “fabricated.”
In May, the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) forwarded a case involving the assault by a police officer against a MDP protester on February 8 to the Prosecutor General’s office.
The PIC has alleged that Staff Sergeant Ali Ahmed assaulted Mohamed Niyaz of Fares-Mathoda in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll on February 8 is a display of excessive force. Video footage revealed Ahmed kicking the victim while he was on the ground.