Police fired gun in takeover of MNBC, video reveals

Video footage taken during the storming of Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) on February 7 reveals that a police officer used a firearm to break down the gates of the station headquarters in capital Male’, allowing dozens of police and military forces (MNDF) as well as some civilians in plain clothes to forcefully take over the station.

According to Maldivian law police officers are not issued firearms.

Approximately two hours before former president Mohamed Nasheed resigned from office “under duress” in what his government has called a “coup d’état”, a group of rogue security forces armed with batons, iron rods, wooden planks and evidently firearms “hijacked” the state media station, forcing it to change to Television Maldives (TVM), its title under former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

A video obtained from an unidentified source captured the event from an upstairs window within the MNBC compound, looking down on the television station’s locked gates.

The video begins as tear gas canisters are thrown at a group of MDP activists attempting to protect the building outside the gate, billowing yellow smoke and forcing then to retreat from the area. A woman inside the MNBC headquarters screams, “Oh Mother! Mother!” as another comforts her, asking to “stop crying.”

Riot police with shields charge the gate as the tear gas clears, accompanied by several men who are not wearing uniforms. As the scene unfolds, a male voice is heard saying,  “Look there’s the police coming, they have guns”, while another man exclaims: “Oh no! That’s the bad police”.

The mob then attempts to break the heavy chain on the gates while a man inside shouts, “Oh my God, they’re opening [the gates], they’re opening”.

At the height of the attack on the gates, a uniformed police officer sticks a gun through the circular hole on the right-hand side of the gate and fires. Smoke from the weapon’s discharge floats up into the air. The crowd then bursts through the gates into the courtyard. Some of the men throw stones and one of the men, who isn’t wearing a uniform, is brandishing an iron rod in his hand. The mob then advances towards the main entrance of MNBC before the video cuts out.

“We felt trapped, kidnapped”

Minivan News spoke to some of the then-MNBC staff on duty inside the headquarters that morning, who recounted the “frightening experience” of February 7 on condition of total anonymity.

“They just stormed into the building and broke the doors and windows to force their way in. Some slapped the paper stacks and equipment off the tables. The first guy who came into the newsroom was a protestor and he ordered us to stop all the work we were doing. He kept on stomping his feet on the ground to frighten us and threatened to ‘finish us’ if we didn’t listen. So we stopped. We were all so scared,” one reporter recalled.

“In just a few minutes the whole place was filled with protesters shouting at us, police and MNDF took over the main control room. There were shouts and cries of girls everywhere. We felt trapped, kidnapped,” the reporter added.

“A policeman shouted that we [MNBC] have brought enough of what government wanted. Now its time for them to broadcast what they want,” another station employee claimed.

The employee added that they were ordered to patch through the VTV channel, owned by minority opposition Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader and MP Gasim Ibrahim. The nation watched VTV on state TV before the feed was cut off and came back on, re-branded as TVM.

Another staff member said that the security forces let the staff that wanted to leave the building exit, and assured them, “No harm will come to the rest”.

Newsroom sub-editor Ahmed Muhsin was taken home under police custody, another staff member told Minivan News.

“But we were surrounded by armed opposition protestors. We were scared for our lives,” the source continued. “The first anchor who went on air could not continue even because of the intimidation. So someone else had to take over”.

Police sub-inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has ordered an investigation into the events of February 7, and that police will not comment on the events of that day until the investigation is concluded.

Dr Waheed’s alleged involvement

MNBC Managing Director Adam Shareef told Minivan News that he was “advised to hide to guard his life” when the protestors stormed in threatening to attack Muhsin and himself for alleged alignment with Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“I was hiding inside the light room until the security forces assured me I would be given protection. When I came out Dr Waheed’s brother Ali Waheed was there. He shook my hands and said that he was there to take over MNBC on behalf of Vice President Dr Waheed. This was before Nasheed resigned.”

Shareef also claimed that Ali Waheed came earlier that morning asking to handover the state media but he refused. “I told him that MNBC had the authority to run the state media and we would not hand over it unless the security forces came. So that’s why they [police and MNDF] came with the protestors,” Shareef observed.

He said that he waited at the station to ensure the safety of his staff, while Muhsin was escorted home.

Several sources at the newsroom confirmed that members of Dr Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihaad party including Ahmed Faiz and Alim Shakoor, younger brother of newly appointed Attorney General and opposition-friendly lawyer Aishath Azima Shakoor, were in the news room “giving orders” that day.

Previously, Azima Shakoor represented parliament’s state broadcaster Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) in a drawn out tug-of-war with state owned MNBC for control of the assets of the state broadcaster, formerly Television Maldives (TVM) and Voice of Maldives (VoM).

Its also notable that after taking office, the first presidential decree passed by President Dr. Waheed was to transfer assets to MBC, although Nasheed’s administration had repeatedly contended that the MBC board is stacked with opposition supporters and that its attempt to control of MNBC is effectively a “media coup”.

Meanwhile, MNBC was criticised for favouring MDP.

State media liberated or hijacked?

The MNBC staff, who earlier spoke to Minivan News, insisted that “in the name of liberating state media, the police, MNDF and the protestors hijacked [MNBC]”.

“We know the lawful state broadcaster is MBC. But this is not the way they should take over. If the rule of law was respected as Dr Waheed promised in his first presidential address, he would not have let the security forces take control over us,” said a senior member of the MNBC staff.

Minivan News could not reach Maldives Broadcasting Commission at time of press.

The commission has however given a license to MBC, which is now preparing to take over management of the national broadcasting station’s assets, local media reports. President Waheed has replaced the MNBC board and tasked it with overseeing the transfer of assets to MBC, which the MDP has previously alleged has a board stacked with opposition figures.

Meanwhile, speaking to Minivan News, the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) President Hiriga Ahmed Zahir claimed that the organisation has not reacted to the take over of MNBC because the police were “enforcing the law”.

“MNBC was operating the state media unlawfully, despite repeated calls from us and court orders to hand it over to the parliament-created state broadcaster,” Zahir continued.

He claimed that MNBC was “abusing the state assets, and tax payer’s money” to make the state media a “propaganda machine” of MDP, in the non-existence of a fair editorial policy.

“I am not saying it was done in the most appropriate way. It was a chaotic situation. But we will always welcome bringing unlawful actions within the legal bounds. Police is the body to enforce the laws and I see no reason to object to the police taking over the state media to hand over it to the lawful body,” Zahir said.

He added that it would have been a problem if they had destroyed MNBC’s equipment or intimidated the staff, but said the organisation had not received any official complaints although some concerns have been raised informally.

Former National Security Advisor and former Defence Minister Ameen Faisal meanwhile observed that it looks “very strange” to see the police in the video firing a gun outside the MNBC office.

“It’s very strange to see. It’s very clearly seen in the footage that they were firing from the main outside gate inside [the MNBC compound] and our police force has never been issued with guns. The big question is how they got the guns. Evidently it was from the MNDF because they are the only people authorised to carry guns.”

He further added that the Maldives witnessed a “police mutiny turn into an armed mutiny” on February 7, which forced a democratically-elected president to resign.

“Any democratic country will not accept a government which used the police force and mutiny to forcefully resign a democratically-elected president. They have to condemn [the new administration], with this video footage and with all the torturing by the police. They should not accept the legitimacy of the government and should ask the people of the Maldives to decide who their president should be,” Faisal contended.

A photo circulating on Facebook apparently showing defected police and MNDF celebrating in the courtyard of the state broadcaster, after taking it over on Tuesday.

70 thoughts on “Police fired gun in takeover of MNBC, video reveals”

  1. Thanks Allah.. Now our TV is free from the durnkard MDP and its canabis adict Mohamed Nasheed.

  2. Isn't it funny that fahkadaa Zahiru Hussein's online newspaper "HAVEERU" has no guts to air this video and same with Adubarey and his "MIADHU" newspaper.

    Its a simple conclusion, these two parties need to be investigated for the part they played in this coup.

  3. We will see all the evidence of a coup for days to come but I do not have any hope that this will be recognised as a coup in an 'independent' inquiry.

    Maldives will be victimised by the super powers. Keep reading the news articles surrounding the event and you will start to question India's role in the coup. To begin with why was Yameen Abdul Gayyoom at the Indian High Commission at the time? They were all against GMR before. Do you hear any of that now? NO

    This is where things will start to get dangerous. India will not side with the opposition to remove Maldives from the Common Wealth or publicly say it was a coup. America will follow. America will agree to Indian terms under some other deal that has nothing to do with the Maldives but their selfish self.

    C'mon people wake. Look at what has happened to Bosnia, look at what's happening in Syria. We should know enough by now that none of the states will act outside their interests.

  4. It is most probably an explosive charge that is often used by military and police forces to detonate locked doors and other sorts of entrances.

    Shooting at a lock can be a very stupid thing to do as the bullet may ricochet and hit the shooter.

    Cmon not everyone is stupid. Try your luck again to make a fool of everyone.

  5. ތިޔަ ސިފައިންނާއި ފުލުހުންގެ ވާހަކަ ނުދައްކާށެވެ! އަންނި އެ ބުނާފަދައިން އެމީހުނަށް ކަންތައް ކުރެވޭނީ އެމީހުން ޓުރެއިންކޮށްފައިވާ ގޮތަކަށެވެ! އަހަރެމެންނާ ދިމާއަށް (މުގުރު ބުރިތައް ހިފައިގެން) އަންނައިރު ހީވާނީ މިނިކާވަގުތަކެއް ހެނެވެ.. ނަމަވެސް ބޭރުގެދުޝްމަނުންނާ ދިމާވެއްޖެ އެމީހުން އޮސްޓްރިޗް ފަދައެވެ. ދުވާނީ ހުސް ފޮށިގަނޑުތައް ހޯދާށެވެ! ޝާއިރު ވިދާޅުވަނީ ހަމަ ތެދެވެ. أسَدٌ عليَّ وفي الحروبِ نَعامةٌ ... ربداءُ تَجْفَلُ من صَفير الصافر އޭނާއަކީ އަހަރެންނާ ދިމާއަށް އަންނައިރު މިނިކާވަގެއްފަދަ މީހެކެވެ. ނަމަވެސް ހަނގުރާމައިގާ އޮސްޓްރިޗް ފަދައެވެ. މީހަކު ކަށިގަނޑެއް ފުންމާއިލިއަސް ދުވާނީ ފިލާށެވެ!

  6. so this has been planned and in operation for a while now.no oder definition to dis dan a planned coup.so with all dese info...referance to the haveeru which is drp news n minivan as anni side of story....thers 2things i noted.

    one is either doctor wadde is so smart dat his take over plan had been kept total secret to anni and his administration..if anni knew..he wud have or rather should have told us.his true supporters.

    second is dat theres a missing piece..is anni hiding somethin?dat he was forced to take decision and then talk.we as his supporters demand to know..u pple just cnt play wth our hopes

  7. 72 people from Faresmaathoda will arrive to Male on 17th of this month.

  8. Manik, i do agree with you for some instance, here the problem is not MNBC or Dr.Waheed or his brother. here the problem is the way way MNDF & Police has taken orders from some one who cannot be identified. for them selves they have no rights to act like that either. & i do agree that MNBC has working close with MDP & hiding most of the truth from public. i dont care MNBC or MBC administrate the facility i am talking about the fare journalism in every manner. but that doesn't mean that the security forces can highjack facility with the employees & do what ever they want.

  9. I have tried but not found a website of the MJA (Maldives Journalists Association) so i am unaware what there stated mission, vision and objectivs are.
    Since it is an association of Journalists i presume that the well being of journalists, working for professional development of journalists and establishment of a safe and enabling working environment for journalists could be part of their stated objectives. I believe MJA should be proactive and instead of waiting for complaints they must determine if any journalist inside MNBC on 7 February 2012 was prevented from carrying out duties or was forced to work against their will.
    I could not determine from the video if any journalist was being manhandled or abused however the camera crew filming the video are clearly terified.
    I believe MJA President, in his comments, has not addressed issues that should be his main cause for concern, that is the safety of the Journalists and news crew working in MNBC when the police stormed in. The legal position of MNBC and MBC should not have been a concern of the Maldives JOURNALISTS Association!

  10. The MNBC is a difficult issue. Is its purpose to put forward the government line or is is supposed to be impartial?

    A lot of these TV stations are supposed to be the Governments mouth pieces not matter what the government is.

  11. if its a gun the chances of the bullet being deflected when shot at security locks is very high. and someone did mention that that amount of smoke wont be there from a gunshot, probably some sorta explosives they use when they need to forced themselves into secure areas.

  12. This city “Male’” I lived for 10 years was the most peaceful city I knew…. Today I am seeing from a far distance (US) and cannot believe my eyes and could not imagine the ongoing political turmoil.

    1985-95 I saw this simple and “God” fearing community has turned into rage and violent from the politicians to the public. It hurts and mostly sucks.

    This is not you Maldivians!!! Not the one I knew.

    The rich has became richer and only the average and the less fortunate who has to face to ugly outcome between politician and the new political parties who use public as a pawn in their game of Chess.

    Dear Maldivians, Friends and relatives, do not give others the opportunity to take advantages of your kindness to their political gains.

    Though from your neighboring country, I have always been a part of your beautiful country and a friend, I have great Maldivian friends and the most wonderful memories during my life to this date, that I do not want to erase for any reasons.

  13. I have always maintained that islam and democracy are totally incompatible and the political shenanigans in Maldives bear this out. Well done morons of Maldives for unseating a democratically elected president. You deserve the Nobel Prize for stupidity for your actions.
    The so called 'Arab Spring' has also fizzled out as we see Egypt reverting to the bad old ways..........clearly the 'true believers'............that's you............haven't a clue what democracy and tolerance and freedom is all about.
    I can see Maldives becoming another failed state like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen very soon...........all islamic states, now there's a coincidence.
    You already have some of the stupidest religious laws in south asia...........flogging of women, intolerance towards other faiths etc.
    India should rescind visa free travel for Maldivians to India immediately and slam the door shut on you losers if democracy is not restored very soon.
    I'll say it again.........islam and democracy are totally incompatible. Most islamic countries are run by despots, dictators, religious mafias and thugs, the military and medieval rulers and sheikhs..........not surprising then that you are some of the most repressive, intolerant and backward countries in the world.
    India has so much to teach you.

  14. There is more evidence of the organized coup when the MP Riyaz Rasheed and Ia colleague reveiled their plan after forcefully taking over the TV stations. Waseem was the anchor....they very proudly explaining how the gayyoom family was involved in this coup.. We need clips of this interview...

  15. I saw Wahid stating that he did not even know of the 'resignation' of President Nasheed until he was called up after the event. So, if he did not see what happened, he is no position to state that His Excellency President Mohammed Nasheed was not forced to submit that letter.

    I submit that it is possible that Dr. Waheed actually believes that it was not a coup. Human ambition can be extremely self-deceptive. Yet he will very soon regret his mistake.

    I predict that by the time he realizes he HAS NO REAL POWER it MAY be too late for him.

    This is my prediction, we will wait and see if I am correct.

    In the name of restoring peace and order, parliament will be dissolved as deadlock will make it completely dysfunctional. The Constitution will be suspended. The Maumoon worshipping cabinet, in the name of restoring rule, will decide Wahid was the wrong choice, and hold 'cabinet-internal' elections which Maumoon OR Yameen will win.

    Waheed will be sorry, he will be seen as a traitor by MDP, and as a weak fool by DRP, so, sadly, he will be back to his old task of being sent overseas to work in some UN job or as some OS diplomat.

    Pres. Anni MAY forgive him on a personal level, after all he did help Anni get out of prison by representing Anni to Maumoon years ago, yet will never be able to give Waheed a position as MDP would reject it.

    This is actually rather sad for Waheed, because from the many things I have heard, Waheed is a genuinely kind, intelligent guy whose soul has, in this instance, become drunk and stupid due to the perception of power. Power will make anyone drunk and stupid. I don't blame Waheed, I don't judge him, he is a victim of something bigger.

    The only way Waheed can prevent this destiny is by announcing early elections. Even if this causes the military to throw Waheed out and replace him quickly, at least, he would have a hope of saving face in the eyes of his people.

  16. Maldivian security forces! it'll take a long time for these organisations to regain their honour! They are not "to serve protect" they are to "to attack and destroy old ladies" already they killed 1 lady and injured 60 or more people on the 8/2/2012 MDP protest.

  17. shame to be a maldivian... i dont know what the hell is wrong with this polititions,they just need money. but i think they are destroying our future. so stubborn....


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