Protests slow at start of third week

Opposition protests in the capital city of Male’ appear to be deflating as they stretch into their third week of late-night stand-offs with riot police.

While opposition-led crowds continue to congregate outside the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building, some bearing posters reading: “No one knows where the judge is” and “We want democracy”, the action has been pushed back towards the fish market by the sudden construction of a ferry terminal by Male’ City Council in the area used for the nightly gathering.

Minivan News understands that fishermen sleeping on the docked boats opposite the MMA had complained to the council about the nightly clashes between police and opposition demonstrators.

Protesters also appear to be voluntarily dispersing at earlier hours. Speaking last night to Minivan News, protest regulars said “a few speeches” were made near the fish market, but that they had drawn to a close well before midnight. Whereas last week opposition supporters had waited until midnight before advancing on police forces, last night the gathering had thinned out by 11:30pm with no reported confrontation with authorities.

Members of opposition parties have protested the “unlawful” detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed since he was arrested by the military on January 16, after he attempted to block his own police summons. He is currently being detained at a military training facility in Girifushi, his whereabouts and wellbeing established during a visit two weeks ago by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM).

In response, the government applied for international legal assistance to resolve its stand-off with the judiciary, which it claims is unsuited to its duties and dysfunctional. Among its grievances are the former Supreme Court’s 2010 decision to tenure itself, allegations of corruption within the courts, and the Civil Court’s 2011 ruling against the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) investigation of the judge.

While meetings and statements are made by day, opposition protesters have agitated by night, injuring several policemen as well as journalists. A targeted attack outside state television station Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) left one videographer with a broken hand. The Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) as well as the government have condemned the attacks, and security forces are maintaining surveillance of the station. Government homes and property have also been vandalised during the exchanges.

Violence is unusual for Male’, despite the often heated political rhetoric at such gatherings. Both opposition and ruling party activists have accused the other side of deploying paid thugs to create unrest and disrupt the other’s gatherings, while local gangs are known to be employed by various political figures, accepting payments for scare tactics.

Over the weekend Dhiyana Saeed, formerly SAARC Secretary General, called for President Mohamed Nasheed to be impeached. Last evening she was removed from Republic Square by police officials for protesting in an unauthorised area. It was the second time in four days that Saeed had attempted to protest in that area and had refused to comply with police orders.

Police officials emphasised that Saeed “was not arrested, and has been released from police charge.”

Saeed did not respond to phone calls at time of press.

Although protest activities appear moderately subdued, a habit seems to be developing. When asked if there were further plans for achieving their goal, one protester near the fish market simply said, “we will continue the protest here, every night.”

Still, as midnight approached most citizens in the area headed off on their motorbikes while others walked home.

Meanwhile, activities at the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) camp near MNBC, last week a protest target, have also calmed.

While ruling  party supporters awaited the arrival of an estimated 40 opposition members who were supposedly approaching the area, a film was screened in which four young people’s relationship was used to illustrate that MDP members could not be bought by the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), viewers explained.

When police forces established road blocks around the area at midnight, half of the crowd gathered outside the camp dispersed from the area, sensing trouble. As a group of opposition protesters appeared at one end of the blockade, onlookers cautioned Minivan News to be wary of thrown objects. However no confrontation developed and the protesters quickly moved on.

MDP members watching the film outside the party camp meanwhile peered down the road from their stationary bikes to observe any possible commotion, shrugged their shoulders when nothing occurred, joked amongst themselves and returned to watching the movie.

The protests – which have typically consisting of 200-400 people – now represent one of the longest running demonstrations over a single issue since the new government was elected in 2008.

Howver the opposition-led demonstrations are effectively an extension of last year’s anti-government protest to defend Islam, none have drawn crowds comparable to those who appeared at the December 23 rally.


10 thoughts on “Protests slow at start of third week”

  1. The so called leaders (President Nasheed, Maumoon, Thasmeen, Yameen, Gasim..etc) are marching for person greed of power and wealth at the expense of ordinary citizens! President Nasheed is consolidating all powers to build up a KINGDOM! He has all corrupt and ethically corrupt (alcholics, child abusers, fornicators..etc) in his team with very few clean individuals (who barely stand up). The situation is no different in opposition. Sad indeed! The Majlis is full of these characters and taking home each month Rf 85,000 in cash each month with other benefits exclusively for them!! What a shame!! Media is highly twisted starting with Minivan news which is a propaganda machine for foreigners to justify the actions of government specially in current breach of law by President Nasheed is “well justified” some how! Dhitv and VTV controled by elite (shareholders of this society). All youth working resorts openly see and experience the leaders of this country enjoying the heavenly “drinks” and ladies and children under aged! And these leaders are above the law!! Nobody dares to talk! MOST MALDIVIANS KNOW SOME KEY POLITICIAN HAVE ABUSED YOUNG BOYS AND GIRLS! AND yet WE cannot stand up and expose or stand up for the justice!! What a shame!!
    Today the drama played is to install a softer Islamic so called version (deviant and invented) “Suffism” as per the RAND plan (how to build a moderate Islamic society that has no threat to dominant ideology! WHERE IS DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM OF KNOWLEDGE?)
    Ofcourse THERE ARE BIG ISSUES IN JUDICIARY!! BUT to go out of law and mock independent institution (like PG and HRC) is dangerous and shows the signs of dictatorial implantation as President Nasheed has realized with two famous protests (1.agaisnt Alcohol in habitat island 2. famous 23rd December protest) that he cannot win against islamic ideology and cannot do it the democratic way! so HE BECAME THE DICTATOR TODAY!! HE NEVER BELIEVED IN DEMOCRACY, BUT ALWAYS WANTED TO TURN MALDIVES INTO A SECULAR STATE WHERE PROSITUTION IS ALLOWED IN A RESTRICTED AREA, ALCOHOL IS AVAILABLE IN ALL CAFES ACROSS MALDIVES FOR ALL MALDIVIANS THOSE WHO WANT TO DRINK, GAMBLING IS ALLOWED..ETC.
    President Nasheed is a dangerous man!! I know what I am saying..but he believes he can distroy this nation’s social fabric and dismantle the religious values, President Nasheed is mistaken!! Allah SW will protect his religion from this madness and also reform the practices of Islam as Islam has been freezed since the last 1000 years with denying education to women, youth and progress thinking!! what President Nasheed stand for is not the Islamic ideology, but Satanic ideology! So a simple google research on Satanic worship and its link to global leaders and you will wake up!! I wish i can sleep till the “age of stupidity” passes and new dawn begins!! MINIVAN NEWS STOP PROPAGATING NASHEED AGENDA!

  2. PG is totally controlled by Maumoon, Yameen and Iliyaas. The three villain they are really an evil bunch. To my count they may have torchered and Killed more then 24600 Good Maldivian Citizen. Well the Judges are all illiterate. And they have all been given bogus collage certificate by the evil bunch they were chosen from the evil collage Mauhadu So that is how the evil bunch control them.
    IT is about time that our patriots give there lives to destroy the evil bunch so we can live in harmony. If we really love our beloved Nation money is nothing

  3. The opposition has lost any credibility left when the masses found out that these opposition leaders are fighting to protect themselves from justice. This abdulla ghazee is the only person who is protecting them from justice. Gayoom and Yaameen left the people to do the fighting and they are busy on telephone giving instructions how to fight. Cowards.

  4. Marie, I expect you want stoning as well!
    Nasheed will do two things, 1 allow freedom of expression 2 a fair judicial system.

    Everyone else on the planet would call that an advanced modern free society. These are fundamental for that. End of debate.

  5. Protests have not slowed. The crowd is as big and as charged as ever. There is also a lot of underground work that is being done by the opposition I heard.

    Their work is showing some results I suppose. You can find some of the police and MNDF people who are unwilling to go against the protesters now. This was not there in the beginning.

  6. Downplaying the continuous riots is one thing, denying the validity of such demonstrations is both cheap and useless.

    The oft-distanced international community itself has woken up to reality of the situation on the ground.

    Ms. Johnstone, are you a journalist or a propagandist? Do you wish to have a career in journalism beyond your tenure in Minivan? Do you want this stint to mar your reputation?

    No matter how much of a spin we put on it, the Nasheed administration has overplayed its hand in abducting and hiding Justice Abdulla Mohamed for days before his family and the public was made aware of his whereabouts.

    Regardless of the allegations against him and the Nasheed government's grievances against the judiciary there is no way you can justify this act.

    If the opposition is playing the rules to their advantage as the government alleges then fire should be fought with fire. The opposition was forced to stand by last year when the Nasheed administration used money politics to buy out the Parliament from under them. Of course lack of a militia prevents them from lashing out in retaliation however the Nasheed government needs to contain itself from further military action as well.

    There is no police force in the Maldives so the MPS should be regarded as an extension of the MNDF as well. A suitable police force would not answer directly to the President and would not participate in political agitation. These are areas where we need reform as well. Should the opposition hijack the whole institution of the police or kidnap the Commissioner until the Executive agrees to relinquish absolute control over them?

    Is Nasheed actively promoting lawlessness, vigilantism and crimes of vengeance?

  7. Aru,


  8. I went to the protest near Republic Square at 11pm last night. There was about 50 people there and some bemused onlookers out shopping.

  9. tks, the matter has gone past this abduction business now. We know now that the JSC wanted to investigate him but he got a court order to stop it. This is the height of idiocy. First the court cannot order to stop the investigation. That itself is against the law. The courts are there to implement the law and not to make the law. JSC is authorised by the constitution in investigate the Judiciary in the first place so the judiciary cannot stop this. The second question is why did the JSC accept this injunction? It is even issued by the Civil Court. The Civil Court cannot issue this at all.
    Now when it boils down to this the only option a Head of State has it to use the military.
    So how can you try and defend the indefensible that is the corruption of Abdulla and the injunction issued by the Civil Court?
    Nasheed is not an angel and I did not like the way he went about this but I now realise that his means justified the end and the only issue for me is that the Government failed to make it's case to the public. Even with the testimony of the JSC to the Majlis the government has failed to inform the public why they did this. They should be talking about the JSC testimony all the time but I guess they are incompetent in communicating to the public.


Comments are closed.