Police deny Amnesty International reports of “excessive force” against demonstrators

Police have refuted “in the harshest terms” allegations of police brutality by Amnesty International, after the human rights body released a statement on June 11 condemning the “excessive use of force” against demonstrators.

Amnesty’s statement followed its investigation of the police crackdown on a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protest against the dismantling of the MDP’s Usfasgandu protest camp on May 29 – a crackdown which included “beatings, pepper-spraying, and arrests. Those attacked include peaceful demonstrators, members of parliament, journalists and bystanders.”

In a press release yesterday, police insisted that “the minimum required force” was used to arrest 52 protesters on May 29, which included those who “obstructed police from performing their duty” and “disobeyed and resisted orders” as well as others taken into custody “on suspicion of attempting to inflict physical injury on police officers” and “for behaving in ways that cause loss of public order.”

Minivan News however observed one protester sustain a head injury after he was hit in the head by a baton, and was rushed to hospital in a pickup truck refueling at the nearby petrol shed.

Local daily Haveeru uploaded video footage showing violent confrontations between police and demonstrators during the arrests.

Minivan News also witnessed a cameraman from local TV station Raajje TV being pepper-sprayed by police while he was attempting to film police arresting a demonstrator.

Police brutality

“Incalculable damage”

The police statement noted that a report on the day’s events by a monitoring team from the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) “stated in very clear terms that excessive force was not used to arrest those among the demonstrators who threw objects at police, used obscene language and tried to obstruct police duties and that no physical harm was caused by police.”

The HRCM monitoring team however observed a police officer chase two demonstrators and strike them with his baton on the night of May 29. After protesting behind police barricades at the Usfasgandu area, MDP supporters began to gather at the intersection of Chandanee Magu and Majeedhee Magu in the centre of Male’ around 8:45pm.

The police statement explained that force was used to disperse the crowd at the Chandhanee Magu junction after protesters began throwing rocks at police officers from a construction site in the area.

“While six police officers sustained varying degrees of injury during the disturbances that day, two police vehicles were severely damaged,” reads the statement.

It added that police have concluded investigations of five demonstrators taken into custody on May 29 – including MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy ‘Inthi’ – and forwarded the cases for prosecution.

Police also noted that “very few complaints” were lodged concerning alleged misconduct and brutality by police officers.

A complaint by Maimoona Haleem, wife of former Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem, alleging excessive use of force in her arrest was being investigated by the police professional standard command, the statement revealed.

According to the Amnesty statement, ‘Mana’ Haleem was “walking home with her female friend in Majeedee Magu Street when police stopped them and began beating them repeatedly with their batons on their arms, back and hips before taking them in a van to the police station.”

“In her testimony Mana Haleem says: ‘I asked why we were being held, but received no answer. Later, they [police] told us it was because we had not obeyed their orders. We asked them how we could have disobeyed their orders if they had not given any, but they were not interested. I have bruises on my shoulder, my back and my hip.'”

However, the police statement claimed that in addition to a complaint filed at the HRCM by a detained demonstrator alleging the use of obscene language during his arrest, no complaints were lodged at the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), the oversight body for police.

The police statement slammed Amnesty for not reporting the “incalculable damage caused to police officers and property” during the MDP protest.

“Maldives Police Service calls on Amnesty International to clarify information from the relevant authorities and state the facts impartially and without bias when issuing such reports in the future,” the statement reads.

The statement concluded by urging “anyone with a complaint regarding police conduct” to formally lodge complaints at independent institutions.

In previous reports highlighting human rights abuse by police, Amnesty has noted police response denying the allegations and its recommendation that victims complain to HRCM.

“HRCM has told Amnesty International that they have serious limitations in terms of trained investigative staff and dealing with human rights issues in a highly politicised environment is an overwhelming challenge for them,” Amnesty has previously noted.

“By referring cases of police abuse of power to the HRCM, when it is clear that such investigations are beyond its capacity, the government is in effect forfeiting its own responsibility to enforce respect for human rights within the police force,” the organisation noted.

“Minimum force”

In its statement on the May 29 incidents, Amnesty had said that despite police claims to have used “the minimum required force to dismantle the area and arrest unruly demonstrators”, “it is clear that by far the majority of demonstrators were not using violence, and any such incidents cannot be used by police as an attempt to justify the ill-treatment of bystanders and those rallying peacefully.”

“Amnesty International believes that the police response to the demonstrations on 29 May was a clear example of excessive use of force.”

Amnesty’s statement included testimony from a number of protesters, noting that the latest reports “are consistent with many other testimonies Amnesty International has gathered previously.”

“One woman protesting peacefully in Majeedee Magu Street told Amnesty International that police officers suddenly pushed into them, and hit her and other peaceful demonstrators with their riot shields. Police hit them repeatedly on their back, and then pepper-sprayed them, aiming at their face and eyes. She said that police grabbed one demonstrator by the neck, shouted at him to open his mouth, and sprayed directly into his mouth,” the human rights organisation reported.

“Police also beat bystanders who showed no signs of violence. An eyewitness saw a man sitting on a stationary motorbike taking no active part in the demonstrations. Police went for him and hit him on his head with their batons. He lost consciousness. His friends took him to a nearby house where they arranged private medical treatment for him – they did not take him to hospital straight away as they were afraid he would be arrested.”

Amnesty called on countries supplying police and military equipment to the Maldives, particularly pepper-spray, to ensure that the substance was not being used to commit human rights violations.

“Any country that knowingly supplies police or military equipment to a force that uses them to commit human rights violations is itself partly responsible for those violations,” the human rights organisation warned.

“Amnesty International is calling on the government of Maldives to halt attacks on peaceful demonstrators including beating and pepper-spraying; bring to justice any police personnel who have used excessive force; ensure that security forces in the Maldives receive comprehensive training on what constitutes human rights violations, which they should not commit.”


10 thoughts on “Police deny Amnesty International reports of “excessive force” against demonstrators”

  1. Police are like angels... white and pure.Is this the story they want to portray? What do we see here then? When you have the baton on my head, i would say yes, but it does not change the facts.

    Our religion is the most pure one from heavens.Yet, there is no peace on any place it has touched. Are you sure it is from heavens? Has heavens made a mistake in the propagation model?

  2. excellent report - no doubt about police brutalities, in contrary

  3. We were protesting peacefully. When you hit me I bleed. All i was doing was asking or my vote that has been taken from me, by a coup regime.

  4. The old brutal dictatorship is back!! Amnesty are right in their assessment.

  5. The Darkness of tyranny looms over the paradise Islands, fear grips the spirits of the Dhivehin, creative energy, life and love dies, as the only way out of the pain of the anxiety seems to be to resign your soul to the inevitability of destruction, and brace your mind and heart for the clash with death with an iron wall of black, metal hatred. The fear of gangs, the fear of religious extremists, the fear of a police force fuelled by lust for a raw display of power, the fear of being caught in the wrong time in the wrong place by protestors lashing out excessively, that is the fear of the masses.

    Yet it is the even darker fear of politicians and business men, desparate to stay conviction free, which is feeding this monster. Lately, I myself have have been gripped by this vicious anxiety, it is strangling me,

  6. As Ahmed bin Suvadhheb observed recently, my writing is flatter than hell lately, it is because, fear crushes creative energy, the energy in my soul feels constricted...

    La Illaha Ill Allah ashadu Ana Mohammeda Rasullah

    No God but God Mohammed is His Messenger

    OH Please Allah HELP us, we offer our tears, our pain, our repressed souls as an offer of sacrifice to you in our Duwah,

    Please, give us your Rahim, Your Rahman, Please free us from fear, from hate, OH please,

    It is said that there is no barrier between the Oppressed and Allah, so we trust you know our pain OH Allah as you are the One who knows ALL THINGS>>>

    If there is anything that I hope will happen in Ramadan, it would be that a revival of the Islamic Spirit of Mercy would occur, that deep, self sacrificial courageous noble wild fire of Mercy for the sanctity of humanity which saw the Muslims ready to jump into harms way to save babies from being buried alive, to ensure charity for the most oppressed and poor in the Arabian Peninsula, to restore the dignity of slaves by releasing them...

    Help us to fast properly this Ramadan, and not to feast all night and sleep all day... If fasting does not cause us some discomfort, we need to do more, we need to embrace 'Jihad Al-Naff, we need to feel the tension with our will, absorb the pain, mix it with Messages about Allah's Mercy to the point we bather in the Sekinah - that special Rahim - and allow our pain to be transformed into sentiments of compassion and forgiveness,

    If we really felt what the early Muslims felt, which we would if we took fasting seriously, we would literally hurt for one another, our hearts would feel the pain of one another's hate and fear, and... we would forgive

    Inshallah may Maldives learn to be ONE FAMILY again

    I am crying now...

  7. Remember Amnesty Urgent Action for Maldives: http://coordinamentosudasia.blogspot.it/2012/06/urgent-action-maldives-human-rights.html

  8. where are the videos from Anni regime ? show the video of using the first water cannon in the history of Maldives ?

    Why only talk about the police actions after 8th Feb. and why not prior to 8th Feb.

    No matter what MDP thugs and allies try to twist the reality but we will never forget how Anni had robbed this country in three years.

    How fearful we were during Anni dictatorship and we were compelled to keep our mooch shut as warned by the dictator.

    Infect this idiot had openly told the public that who ever is not agreement with the dictator, he will show his evil side. This cannot be denied and it is still active in my ear like it was warned by him yesterday.

  9. @Ali Shiyam on Thu, 21st Jun 2012 8:45 PM

    "Are you sure it is from heavens? Has heavens made a mistake in the propagation model?"

    Very good question. There certainly must be a mistake in the "propagation" model, if the model created the likes of Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarek, Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom etc.

    Providing the human race with superior intelligence above and beyond the primates was certainly a grave mistake. Dictatorships, police brutality and fake Sheikhs dispensing snake oil are all manifestations of the same mistake.

  10. @Addu Bin Suvadheeb

    "Providing the human race with superior intelligence above and beyond the primates was certainly a grave mistake. Dictatorships, police brutality and fake Sheikhs dispensing snake oil are all manifestations of the same mistake."

    And now the Adduan challenges the wisdom of God himself. Simultaneously he betrays his own devotion to the cult of evolutionism.

    Your errant ways and impertinence demonstrate the necessity of making due effort to instill obedience and faith into our countrymen. As opposed to emasculating our police-force, as some would have it.

    Male' is a city of piety, civility and virtue. Embrace our ways or begone with your heresy.


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