Police confirm rubber bullet use as violence rocks Male’

Police officials today confirmed the use of less-lethal weapons including pepper spray, tear gas and, in one confirmed case, rubber bullets during violent clashes with civilians in Male’.

However, the country’s security forces insisted they had employed a policy of “minimum force” against anti-government protesters.

Despite international calls for calm, and pledges to conduct peaceful anti-government protests, images of violence were the one constant across all Maldivian media as President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan was finally able to give his state of the nation address.

The president still required several attempts, having to shout over loud heckling and protests by several Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters to get the job done.

Chaotic scenes – more often that not of a violent nature – took place both inside and out of the country’s parliament as bitter political divide stemming from allegations that Waheed replaced Mohamed Nasheed as the country’s president in a coup d’etat, appeared to escalate.

Rubber bullets

A spokesperson for the Maldives’ Police Service told Minivan News that amidst the day’s violence, there was one confirmed case of rubber bullets being used during the afternoon in order to stop an individual accused of taking a police vehicle from near the now-demolished MDP protest camp.

The spokesperson added that the exact details of whether or not the suspect hit by the projectile was an anti-government protester had not been confirmed at the time of going to press.

When contacted by Minivan News, Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem added that he was not aware of any incidents of military officers using rubber bullets against civilians during the day. However, he did stress that as a so-called less-lethal weapon, rubber or plastic bullets were options the military were authorised to use as a means to restore order.

Majlis trouble

With President Waheed facing calls from international bodies such as the European Union and the Commonwealth, as well as the opposition MDP to hold fresh elections over the controversial transfer of power that brought him into office, a mixture of violence and heckling erupted in parliament.

Several international observers were reported to have been looking on from the public galleries, according to a source present during the session.

Some media outlets reported that several MDP MPs were injured during minor scuffles that broke out in the Majlis chamber as protesters faced expulsion for continuing to block Waheed.  MDP party members alleged that it was the MNDF that was responsible, a claim refuted by military officials.

An MDP member claimed that at one point around 20 MNDF soldiers entered parliament, attacking MDP members, including Baarashu Dhaaira MP Shifaz.

Shifaz was alleged to have been beaten unconscious before being removed from parliament by MNDF officers with a broken leg.

After several attempts by the President to complete his speech, a task frequently interrupted as Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid’s was forced to fulfil his constitutional duty to remove disruptive MPs from the Majlis, Waheed was able to continue only by shouting over his dissenters.

Waheed had been prevented from delivering his speech at the previously scheduled opening of parliament of March 1.

Once the Majlis session was concluded, Maldivian Democratic Party spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy said the party did not take pride in obstructing parliament, but had felt forced to do so due to its dissatisfaction with the nature of Waheed’s accession to the Presidency.

Fahmy claimed the party would now work both inside and outside of parliament to achieve early elections. Waheed later issued a statement claiming he would work with all political parties to ensure early elections if such a thing was “required”.

A spokesperson for the President was unable to clarify exactly what sort of requirement he was referring to when contacted by Minivan News.

“This is the time for all of us to work together in one spirit, the time to bring political differences to the discussion table in order to formulate solutions,” stated Waheed. “I fully assure you that I will not order anyone to act against the constitution or laws of this country”.

In the streets

Any hopes for more orderly demonstrations at protests outside of parliament were also dashed as violent chaos ensued in the streets.
Groups of anti-government protesters left the MDP camp by the Tsunami memorial just before 9.30am and were firmly entrenched at two of the police’s many barricades by 10am with all routes to the Majlis blocked.

While those to the east of the Majlis building demonstrated peacefully with a sit-down, the far larger group advancing on the blockade to the south appeared more confrontational in their approach.

The activities of this group eventually prompted the use of tear gas by police, which drove the group away from the police lines.

This tactic then brought the group into direct confrontation with soldiers who were protecting the studios of Villa Television (VTV).

In the meantime, fire fighters struggled to control a blaze at Neelan Fihaara on the other side of town situated next to a police garage. The cause of this fire is not yet known, though both the MDP and pro-government supporters blamed each other for deliberately starting the blaze.

As demonstrators on Sosun Magu were forced back, some vented their frustrations on the VTV building, using bricks from outside the adjacent hospital to attack the troops and the TV station.  Extensive damage was reportedly caused to VTV and its property, with the station briefly being brought off air – an act claimed by the station’s owner to be tantamount to “terrorism”.

Local media bodies also criticised protesters for allegedly threatening journalists and media personnel covering the clashes.

MNDF reinforcements and, according to some witnesses, rubber bullets were used by police to successfully disperse the rioters on Sosun Magu.

Minivan News witnessed the use of some form of weapon, but could not confirm what sort of projectiles were fired from it. By this point, police had claimed one civilian and eight police officers were injured.

President Waheed used his Twitter account to lay the blame for the street battles solely at the foot of former President Nasheed – despite his non-appearance on the day.

“Anni must take responsibility for the chaos as he is directing the chaos in Male’,” he said.

The clashes along Sosun Magu between security forces and their aggressors continued into the afternoon until demonstrators began to make their way to the MDP protest camp near the Tsunami Memorial at about 3pm.

Less than an hour later, police told Minivan News that the violent confrontations with protesters appeared to have been brought under control.

Rising tensions

However, tempers soon flared again as large numbers of police arrived to begin clearing the surf point area of the capital that has been home to the MDP protest camp since former President Nasheed’s controversial resignation in February.

A police spokesperson told Minivan News that a court order to dismantle the camp had been obtained by the security forces in response to the violence that engulfed the city during the morning. The MDP have disputed the existence if any such warrant.

“All of the unlawful acts that are taking place across the city have been planned in this place [the MDP camp],” the spokesperson claimed.

Attorney General Azima Shukoor later told local press that the Tsunami Memorial area itself belonged to the MNDF, at least according to certain laws which would suggest Male’ City Council’s decision to provide the MDP with the land until later this year was invalid.

“The old days are back”

However, MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy responded with claims that the move reflected a continued reversal of human rights under the new government.

“The old days are back. They are violating freedoms of expression and association,” he told Minivan News. “They are now committing atrocities in daylight to intimidate the public.”

Fahmy claimed he was not surprised that the security forces had been granted a court warrant to remove the camp, “The courts function as they want.”

As protesters gathered around the police blockade surrounding the perimeter of the camp area, tear gas and water cannons were used by security officials to pushprotesters back towards Dharubaaruge.

With the camp eventually dismantled, both the Haveeru and Sun Online news agencies reported the police’s discovery of beer cans and a large quantity of a substance believed to smell like home-brewed alcohol, both prohibited under Maldivian law – though this discovery has not been confirmed by Minivan News.

Despite crowds continuing to gather to jeer and shout at police past sunset, the day’s violence appeared to once again have died down by 8PM.

Correction: The original opening paragraph to this article implied MNDF officials had also confirmed the use of rubber bullets, which was not the case.  Minivan News apologises for the grammatical error.


35 thoughts on “Police confirm rubber bullet use as violence rocks Male’”

  1. So they found beer cans and home brewed alcohol eh? Shame on MDP!

  2. This little paradise of mine, I mean the 100 per cent Muslim Maldive Republic, is a place where there is a little bit of excitement and violence all the time. The population is polarised and divided. People are not happy. They are not polite to each other. It is certainly not a democracy.

  3. so of all the things that happened today. this is the best headline to sum it all up eh? good job!

  4. minivan news you are one sided but sorry you will not gain anything out of trying to cover up for anni

  5. Dr.Waheed is a mad man....He shouldnt be in the majlis chambers today to show off his arrogance! I for one knows this violence was caused by Dr.Waheed and Dr.Waheed alone.... The protesters are many and Dr.Waheed is only one... Why couldnt he sacriffice his 2 or 3 mins speech for the safety of Police,MNDF and the general public......He doesnt have to give a speech amidst of all the chaos!! The desicions made for the protests today cannot be blamed on President Nasheed (champion of democracy)

  6. http://www.sun.mv/16420
    This is a prelude to ban MDP. The pattern is emerging very clearly. Most probably Fuad Thaufeeq is coerced to make that statement.

  7. Stop MDP's madness now! I support using whatever means to stop the continued violence and fear in Male'.

  8. You can identify that gun from the internet and see what kinds of projectiles it uses, Neil Merret and Daniel Bosley. I'd do it myself but I only have that thumbnail size pic to work with.

  9. Yes..When Truth needs to be twisted it is by finding "Liquor", "Drugs" or in the name of "Religion"...!!Very Clever.....There was a time people protested freely in front of the Police Headquarters, under the nose of MNDF and President's office...IT WAS "CONSTITUTIONAL.".... Now the peaceful assembly (nobody was hurt in any of the meetings) by surfing area with the permission of City Council... "UNCONSTITUTIONAL" ....FAIR IS FOWL AND FOWL IS FAIR....

  10. desperate attempt to silence the oppsoion voice in the country . warning former president and now opposition leader might be arrested . release the criminals and arrest mdp leaders supporters and activists . Rule the country with an iron fist .

  11. The police are going to find beer and alcohol everywhere they go even if it was never there in the first place. It's just too easy for them to play the religion card. People are so shallow that they'll overlook greater crimes just so that they can loudly condemn sins and feel holy.

    The double standards of public perception are ridiculous.

    Already at the mere mention of alcohol at the camp people have started to see the actions of the police as justified.

    "Rubber bullets and bashing people is bad, but it's alright because they found some beer cans. Silly protesters should have stayed at home if they didn't want to get hurt."

    It's sad that the public takes so many things at face value. No wonder so many were content, and are still willing, to be puppets in the manic web of dictators.

    Also, what of the irreplaceable pre-Islamic collection that was destroyed the day of the coup? The priceless remnants of our rich and storied past are gone forever. Has an investigation even been started? Or will it simply be another one of those atrocities that the Maldives will so easily forget and dust under the rug?

  12. Macbeth in Maldives..."King" is stabbed in his sleep by "Macbeth and Lady Macbeth" of course for "Power" Macbeth was watching TV and Playing Violin when a Mutiny was Taking place just under his nose a few yards away. "He knew about it only when he was asked to swear in as President". Keep on washing your hands to get the stink of Mutiny from your hands with perfumes. " All the perfumes of Arabia will not take that stink of Mutiny and unholy alliances from your hands" . Now starting to wash your hands with beer cans found at surfing area.....Keep on washing your hands .....But the stink of deceit will remain for ever...!!

  13. Gundaa force raiyyithuun gayah rubberu unda jehumakee gaanoonassasee aa dhekolhu kameh noon, dho? Ekamaku rah lootuvan nikun 'iththihaad' meehunngaiga aillumakeeves gaanoonuasaasee gai manaa koffaivaa kameh!.

    Dhefukkeheri Villa Police.

  14. @Ahmed bin Addu bin Suvadheeb:

    As per Haveeru News, police and MNDF cleared "raalhugandu sarahadhdhu" before they conducted the so-called search. They also kicked out all media and 6 vehicles with boxes arrived in there.
    After these things took place, within 20 minutes they found beer cans and home brewed alcohol...etc.

    Only Gay-yoom's puppets with no brains will believe Gay-yoom.

  15. As usual who plant the beer after closing all area
    Who is selling most of the beer in this country

  16. MDP has been on a continuously terrorising rampage for a while now.
    They have terrorised the public with their words and they have terrorised with their actions.
    Just yesterday:
    They broke all the glass panels of VTV building by throwing bricks, metal and wooden rods and even bicycles at the building.
    They damaged expensive goods inside the VTV building.
    They abused and threatened the VTV staff.
    They grabbed and damaged the video camera of one of the Haveeru video journalists.
    They injured several policemen with bricks, metal and wooden rods and even sharp objects. (One policeman had to be sent abroad for treatment for his injuries were grave and there are no facilities in Male' to deal with his injuries.)
    They set ablaze at least one shop and several godowns that belong to the city council. (This could have produced a potentially very scary situation for the gas stations were nearby and if the fire was uncontrolled it would have led to an unimaginably horrific devastation.)
    I will have no qualms over using force to contain such maniacs.
    I would like to see these maniacs locked up for the rest of their lives.

    It is a shame that Anni, after announcing that he will be on the front line of the MDP protests, was not seen anywhere.
    He just let poor sods do all the dirty work for him while he sits and watch all the damage his people cause to the country.

    I heard that Dr Didi and Alhan Fahmy (The president and VP of MDP) have no power inside the party. They are just figureheads.
    I also heard that this is going to change very soon.
    A movement has already begun and we will see good comming out of MDP soon.

  17. Rubber bullet. So what? They should have used real bullets to attack the people who cold bloodedly attacked the police. The police are just normal workers doing their work. mdp thugs have no right to attack them personally.

  18. SHAME SHAME SHAME on MDP thugs. They are ruining the real decent hard working law abiding members of MDP. Majority of MDP do not support this undecent acts.

  19. MDP sends thugs after feeding drugs and alcohole to rampage public property. Nasheed has publically declared he will create violence and we saw that yesterday.

    Nasheed must take full responsibility for his coward action yesterday.

    We have a shaithan loose on the street and needs to be locked in, not in kenereege but in a cage and display for all Maldivians.

  20. Today,Maldives is a military state, run by a bunch of thugs pretending to be intellects. They are armed with batons,pepper spray,bullets and guns.we are armed with truth. A yearning for freedom and democracy that guns and bullets cannot hold down,for we have suffered this oppression far too long to allow it to return.we owe ourselves and our youth a better, brighter future. This madness has to end.we want an election.until that date is set, I doubt if we will see any peace.

  21. Heheheh police ordered all the journalist to leave the raalhugadu area and then after few minutes then they asked journalist to come and witness the bear cans and locally brewed alcohol that they found there ..............is it an old Hindi movie.
    I think bodibath jameel should stop watching all old movies ............try something more creative.

  22. Violence rocks Male' or any other island ONLY when MDP is out on the streets.

  23. What MDP has done to our culture and young people are horrid. They promote booze and drugs in their raalhugandu camp to win support from the young ppl. It may be short lived. One the free booze and drugs are no longer available the party will be over. I salute the brave police of this country for bringing the country back from human meat eating barbarians who have managed to make fools out of themselves in front of the parliament and the international media.

  24. Adhives lavakiyeythoa balaathi.
    Ma chis chis kolli as
    Ma fis fis kolli as ....

  25. The Police Integrity Commission has condemned MDP's actions.
    The HUman Rights Commission has condemned MDP's actions.
    What are you talking about Danny boy?

  26. not on the topic, but why does minivan keep employing foreign journalists? hama nulibeneetha ehcheh liyelaane dhivehi kujjaku? or is there a different agenda?

  27. Today less lethal very soon it will be lethal the BAGHEES will go to any extent to stifle the people who are against coup govt

  28. Yesterday it was a "Short Story Telling Competition" in the Majlis. and the Winner is Baaghee..he won by 03points..

    Waheed come and Waheed go 03times Yesterday.

  29. yes rubber bullets were used. heres the proof https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=399428666752754&set=a.136285519733738.23496.126104354085188&type=1&theater

  30. Violence did not rock Male'. The protests were localised to sections of the roads that led to the People's Majlis house beyond the road blocks maintained by the police. There was an isolated fire which did not draw the attention of the fire fighters. But, the police and soldiers behind shields rushed to VTV (Villa TV) office which was attacked.

    It is not certain who carried out the attack or started the fire. These were isolated incidents and Male' was not rocked by violence to justify any gun shots. Everything here with a population of well below 500,000 is exaggerated to the magnitude of things in countries of billions of people. But everything is ineffective for its purpose.

    A president with security on par with that of the US or Israel; a parliament of 77 MPs; a police that mutinied in the face of opposition protests of 21 days by people in power now; the military that never saw a war but an armed attack by mercenaries which saw them hiding away while Indian army had to come in rescue. The same security force could not safeguard the president from the mutinous policemen of a rather small number.

  31. Did a police mutiny joined by defense forces never happen in this country? There were thousands of people who protested peacefully because they did not want a military coup headed leader to address the parliament. The brutality from the police is completely forgotten. The fact that Waheed gave legitimacy to a mutinying police and MNDF is forgotten. As long as the police that mutinied and the MNDF who joined them are not investigated protests will go on.

  32. they use rubber bullets and strip the women protester even. so who would not dare use rubber bulleets. the beer cans were brought from bandos, meerufenfushi and paradise resorts


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