Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam has confirmed the arrest of 17 people on Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, who were involved in vandalising property and creating unrest in the island on February 8.
‘’Those people are people whom we have pictures and video footage of their involvement in the incidents that day,’’ Shiyam said.
Shiyam said when police attempted to arrest some of the suspects, other islanders obstructed police.
‘’But now they are all cooperating with the police,’’ he said. ‘’All persons arrested will have all the rights guaranteed to them by law.’’
Shiyam said details of the detainees could not be given.
Thinadhoo Island Council President Ali Naseer told Minivan News that police started arresting Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters yesterday.
‘’They deployed forces from Fuvamulah and Addu City and arrested 12 MDP supporters yesterday,’’ Naseer said. ‘’Today they have deployed more police officers from Male’ and have arrested nine MDP supporters.’’
Naseer claimed that the total number of persons arrested were 21.
‘’They are taking all the detainees to Villingili in Gaafu Alifu Atoll police custodial, but six arrested remains in Thinadhoo custodial,’’ Naseer said. ‘’Police are obtaining information from Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) supporters on this island and have not contacted any government institution in the island.’’
He said MDP supporters yesterday found out that police senior officers were having a meeting with PPM senior officials in the island and MDP supporters went there and there was a some unrest.
‘’This is very much politicised,’’ he claimed. ‘’The council tried to discuss the issue with the police but the police replied that they did not need to discuss with the council and that they have the authority to arrest persons.’’
He also said police were using vehicles owned by PPM supporters, which were recently used to attack MDP supporters in the island.
On February 8, Protestors on Gaaf Dhaalu Atoll Thinadhoo set fire to the police station, magistrate court, atoll council office, and all police vehicles. Nine policemen were attacked and subsequently treated at the Thinadhoo Regional Hospital. Police officials that time declared the area unsafe for local policemen as “MDP supporters have threatened to attack the residences of policemen.”
Thinadhoo is a fiercely independent island and has reportedly blocked police access to the jetty on several occasions since the civil unrest of February 8, sparked by a brutal police crackdown on protesters in Male’ and false rumours of deaths circulated in the aftermath
Independence remains a sensitive subject for the southern atolls, particularly Addu, which in 1959 led the formation of a short-lived break-away nation called the United Suvadive Republic, together with Huvadhu Atoll (including Thinadhoo) and Fuvahmulah.
This was crushed in 1962 when Thinadhoo was destroyed on the orders of then-President Ibrahim Nasir, and the island of 4800 depopulated.