PPM still asking for Chief Judge’s release as violent protests continue

Police and Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF) last night arrested 19 people during a violent protest outside the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building near Republic Square, in which four police officers received minor injuries.

“The protest became violent when people started throwing bricks and other things,” said police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef. “We tried to disperse them, and the protest spread throughout Male’ city.” Haneef said the protests continued until 1:25 am on Monday morning.

‘Sandhaanu’ Ahmed Ibrahim Didi, a council member of minority opposition Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP), has been released. The other 18 individuals remain in custody.

However, Mulaku MP Abdulla Yameen was summoned to police headquarters this morning for questioning in regards in to an ongoing investigation. Local media reports that Yameen was due to leave for Sri Lanka this evening to meet foreign diplomats.

Police officials estimated that between 300 and 400 individuals associated with political opposition parties participated in last night’s protest, part of a trend which began when several opposition figures were detained for “hate speech” against the government nine days ago. Opposition-led protests demanding freedom of expression escalated when Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed was arrested by military forces seven days ago, shortly after he declared the arrest of the politicians unlawful.

Sub-Inspector Haneef said the protests were “of a high concern to the Male’ police service”, observing that last night’s protest was part of a developing trend of increasingly violent demonstrations.

Stating that military forces are prepared to assist police upon request, MNDF spokesperson Major Abdul Raheem added that “anytime there is violence it is a big concern of ours. We are always on alert and want to make sure Male’ is safe for residents.”

Meanwhile, the Security Services Committee (241 Committee) questioned MNDF Chief Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel and Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh  regarding the detention of the chief judge and the string of protests.

Local media reported that further hearings will be held. However, Minivan was unable to confirm the report with members of the 241 Committee at time of press.

Concerns about the protests were raised at Parliament’s National Security Committee last week by PPM MP Ahmed Mahlouf.

According to Committee Chair and MDP MP Ali Waheed, Mahlouf subsequently withdrew the case “because he didn’t want (MDP MP) ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik to be involved, and he didn’t like the way the investigation was going.”

“We offered dialogue, because we don’t want to stop work, we want to be democratic. In a committee we should be able to have dialogue and make a solution. But the opposition is trying to disrupt the process and make trouble everywhere in the country so the government can’t focus,” Waheed claimed.

Stating that the protests “are an issue of national security”, Waheed warned that disrupting committee procedures were “a means to an end.”

“Right now there are many ways to terrorise a country. Some use guns and bombs, some use language, and even now the way [former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives] is acting is a type of terrorism – they are trying to stop the whole system”, he said, observing that as the protests carry on with blocked roads and vandalised homes, “Male’s roads should not be used only by PPM.”

PPM MP Mahlouf had not responded to phone calls at time of press. However, party member Abdul Rasheed Nafiz said he understood that Mahlouf’s case was voted down during a committee session when MP Yameen was absent, and did not believe that the National Security Committee had the mandate to address the protests.

Nafiz said the protests were important for public expression however he believed the response was overblown.

“Police and military forces are both involved, which is a concern. Force is not required, when these people are gathering they keep silent until the police decide to disperse the crowd,” he claimed.

Acknowledging that a regulation prohibits demonstrations after midnight and at certain locations – such as Republic Square, located next to the MMA building – Nafiz pointed out that “neither side has obeyed that regulation, and even a small regulation can’t limit the freedoms granted in the Constitution.”

During his time as a Parliament member, Nafiz said, he suggested regulations on public protests “because Male’ is a small place and people are saying things that are hard for families and small children to hear. We have a culture and a religion to respect as well. But at the time the proposal was attacked and now people can hold protests when and where they like.”

Nafiz said he believed restoring peace “depends on the chief judge’s release.”

“Opposition parties are willing to bring an end to the protests through negotiation, but the government should release the judge first,” he said, noting that a group of lawyers had today forwarded the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC), of which the Maldives recently became a member.

“This is really a legal issue, and a mediator is needed. The question is ‘who’. Now is the time for the international community to get involved”, he said.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had requested an international legal delegation from the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission to assist the Maldives.


10 thoughts on “PPM still asking for Chief Judge’s release as violent protests continue”

  1. It is sad to see all this happening in Malè. Tourists are cancelling on the base of the noise of the battle. Neverthelss Maldives cannot stop it's path to democracy. You will see this and other terrible actions unfortunatly. I'm afraid this is the price to be paid as repression stayed too long on the wheel of the country. People are showing now what they could not show before as if so jail was the end. Don't give up Maldives, don't give up.

  2. If the previous governement(s) had created a better society, a better environment, the Malddivian poeple would not be so fed-up. What a pitty ... such a beautifull country !!! but you have to walk your own way to Democracy.

  3. @ Mr. Antonio (Spain) - on Mon, 23rd Jan 2012 6:31 PM

    "Tourists are cancelling on the base of the noise of the battle".

    If tourists are canceling its not only because of political unrest and fear for their own safety but also due to the fact that Maldives has lost its image as a 'peaceful, calm island destination in the tropics'.

    Instead, the image of the country is now famous as a 'politically unstable, violence oriented third world country where its society is torn apart due to the rise of religious fundamentalism and political strife'.

    But our leaders on all political sides, are oblivious to this fact. The Government continues to distribute islands for 'a dime a dozen' for resort and hotel developments. But there are no investors, no funds! Who in his right mind will put his money on any investment in this country under the prevailing economic, social and political climate?

    Some how people are under the impression that tourists will keep on coming here and pay top dollars even if we have an Afghan style civil war.

    Recent shock waves that hit the industry include the news on the rise of Islamic extremism, violence in Male, crime, political instability, closing of the Spas etc.

    For some crazy reason we are on the road to self destruction rather than democracy.

  4. @Antonio - very sad indeed. The previous government left us with a democratic constitution in place. It is violation of the constitution by President Nasheed that is responsible for the ongoing crisis today. The High Court, Supreme Court, Judicial Services Commission, Human Rights Commission, all the opposition parties, several civil society organisation and the Vice President himself has called on the government to release the judge who was abducted from his home late at night without a court order by the army. Please don't try to blame the previous government for everything. Your logic is like that of a drug dealer who blames his father for his own behaviour, when caught.

  5. How about the previous government. Did they consider to abide the constitution they made by themselves in 1998 when they violated it. Inhumane acts were committed in the jails by the authorities, convicts were not allowed to find lawyers for their defence and freedom of expression was strictly forbidden though they are all guaranteed to every citizen under the constitution even at that time. (16, 25)

    Stop spreading false rumours!

    We believe that the government is doing what is necessary to ensure fairness and indepence of judiciary. Everyone is well aware that Maldivian courts are not independent nor fair. The people who commit biggest crimes are usually set free by the courts.

  6. President Nasheed is doing what he has to do and its the best interest for the people of the Maldives not for the Opposition ofcose. Go Mr. Nasheed Go, we are with you.

  7. What is the course of action directed by our constitution when the Judiciary Commission refuses to investigate a judge? And when the High Court gives a court order to the Judiciary Commission not to investigate a complaint against a judge?

    This is not clear. Would Minivan News expand on this?

  8. Why is the Honourable Mahlouf on the streets instead of addressing these issues in parliament?

    Why has the Honourable Mahlouf who calls for vote of no confidence in our ministers at the drop of a hat not raised this serious miscarriage of justice in parliament? Why has he not called for a vote of no confidence in this judge? And why has he not called for vote of no confidence in the Prosecutor General who we are told by Judge Abdulla Mohamed sends cases to courts without sufficient evidence to convict our criminals?

    None of the reports in this news magazine or any of the news I have read and listened to shed any light on what the options were for the President when the JSC does not act to investigate complaints against a judge and when a court order stops the JSC to do so. What does the constitution say about this matter?

    How long must this country be subjected to the balatant and gross injustice by our courts? What is really shocking is that none of the demonstrators now calling for the release of this corrrupt judge cared to take to the streets on behalf of the victims of violence committed by the criminals rapists gangsters who were set free by this very judge whose rights they so loudly defend. What about the people whose rights he violated? Who is speaking for them?


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