Dozens of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters, including women, were injured in Addu city last night and the party’s headquarters attacked in a brutal police crackdown on demonstrations against President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, sources from Addu have claimed.
Police, however, have denied the allegations.
Speaking to Minivan News, several eye witnesses claimed that “police used unjustifiable and brutal force” to suppress MDP members protesting against Dr Waheed while he attended a ceremony at Muhibbuddhin School in Hithadhoo.
According to a source, the streets outside the school were blocked and heavily guarded by police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers armed with shield and batons, forcing the MDP demonstrators to continue the protest several metres from the school.
“MDP members requested permission to get closer to Muhibbuddin School but were rejected by the police. So they started shouting for Waheed’s resignation near the police barricade,” the source said.
Shiyara Mohamed, a women’s rights activist and wife of Addu City’s Mayor Abdulla Sodig, who also at the demonstrations, observed that it was “mostly women” calling for Waheed’s resignation. They were tear-gassed by the police “without any warning”, she claimed.
“It was just around 100 people and most were women. We were standing near the police barricade and calling for Waheed’s resignation when all of a sudden the Star Force charged from behind us and tear gassed the whole area without any warning,” she claimed.
“Women started screaming and everyone ran away in panic. Many hid inside nearby houses and others were pushed back using batons,” she said.
Another source claimed that “several women who were in the front line were mercilessly beaten with batons and boots,” and subsequently rushed to the hospital with injuries.
Meanwhile, “some youth from the crowd retaliated by throwing anything they could get their hands on,” the source noted, adding that some policemen were also injured in the clashes.
Furthermore, several members inside the Haruge were injured in the attack, the source said.
“They tear gassed Haruge first. Then [police] started vandalising the MDP office. Window glass was shattered with batons; computers and other equipment was smashed against the floor. Chairs were broken. People inside the Haruge were brutally beaten and dragged outside,” a third source from Addu said.
Photos and dramatic footage of the damage to Haruge circulating over the social media show injuries allegedly inflicted by the police during the crackdown, and women being taken to the hospital by ambulance. The MDP Haruge in the capital Male’ was similarly attacked by rogue police during the chaotic events of February 7 which culminated in the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed.
In one image, a woman is also seen on the ground, with what seems to be an injured hand.
Shiyara,who spoke to Minivan News earlier, said that she was the one who took the injured woman to the hospital.
“Apparently, there was something already wrong with her hand – so when the police dragged her outside Haruge by holding that hand, it was fractured,” Shiyara claimed.
Another image also show injuries to a man’s hand, allegedly injured in a baton strike.
In a press statement released last night, police dismissed the allegations as “lies” and said that the police only stopped the demonstrators who attempted to break into the area blocked by the security forces.
Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed meanwhile told local media that 11 cases concerning violence incidents in Addu Atoll on February 8 had been forwarded to the Prosecutor General (PG)’s Office.
Dr Jameel blamed former President Mohamed Nasheed for leading the attacks, reported Haveeru, stating that “Nasheed and his traitors” inflicted extensive damage on the country over his three years of rule.
President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan said that anyone who witnessed the damage to police and court buildings first hand would “surely shed tears”.
President Dr. Waheed pledged that he and his government will do everything in their power to bring the criminals behind the Addu incidents to justice.