Security forces use water cannon on MDP women’s sit-down protest

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and police used a salt water cannons to break up a gathering of nearly 100 female supporters of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) outside President Office on Tuesday afternoon.

The women marched to the President Office around 3:15pm to deliver a set of letters requesting President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to resign, while the rest of the female demonstrators sat down outside the office holding boards bearing slogans including “Where is my vote?” and “Justice now”.

The women from all ages continued to call for President Waheed’s resignation while the police and MNDF on the scene ordered the women to leave the area.

Video footage circulating over the social media then show that the police aimed a high-pressure salt water cannon at the crowd for at least five minutes, but this did little to deter the women, who were then physically picked up by policewomen. Others were pushed back by policemen armed with shields.

Several eye witnesses alleged to Minivan News that “some policeman groped the female demonstrators, tore their clothes and used foul language” during the removal.

“Two women’s clothes were torn from the shoulders when the policemen tried to grab them. One woman’s veil was taken off and I saw her shouting at the police,” one of the demonstrator told Minivan News over the phone.

Another eye witness reported seeing a woman who was “dragged by her feet” after she refused to leave. “The women tried to shove him off and cover her body because her blouse was torn, but the policeman grabbed her hands,” the source claimed.

Several women were seeing resisting arrest while the policewomen attempted to grab some of the women hosed down by the salt water. Although, the crowds were dispersed from the President Office, the women continued to voice their discontent on the nearby streets until nightfall.

Police media official, Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam, told Minivan  News that female protesters forcibly crossed the police cordons and  “intimidated the police”.

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz at a press conference yesterday had vowed that police would “become feared by the most dreaded criminals”.

“[The women] forcibly crossed into the area near the President Office after intimidating the police guards at the cordon blocking the area. They were ordered to leave the area repeatedly before the police used force to remove them,” Shiyam said.

Responding to allegations that police used excessive force to subdue the gathering, Shiyam said “If anyone has any complaints they can follow the due process and file a complaint.”

“What we used was water. It is the least brutal force used to disperse a gathering,” he further added.

Speaking to Minivan News today, former Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa said that before the protest outside the President Office nearly 500 female MDP supporters went to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) to file a complaint over the police brutality.

She claimed the commission has so far failed to take any action.

“As we were coming back some went to the President Office to deliver letters to request Waheed  resign. So while they did that, we sat down to peacefully protest. However, almost immediately police came and used a high pressure water hose,” said Dr  Zulfa, who was also at the sit-down demonstration.

“There is no way to end this brutality,” she said. “The international community has failed to see this day after day. Anywhere else in the world this would be a shameless military coup.”

Meanwhile, later in the evening HRCM had issued  a press statement condemning the police for using “excessive force” against the women while controlling today’s demonstration.

The commission also urged the police to to respect the people  right to peaceful demonstration and asked them to refrain from any actions that will harm the dignity of women.

Women have been at the front line in MDP’s political movement to bring early elections, since the party’s candidate, former President Mohamed Nasheed was deposed in what the party calls a bloodless coup.

Recently, Amnesty International has also condemned attacks on a group of MDP women supporters in Addu Atoll by the security forces, after obtaining testimonies from victims of a crackdown on demonstrators at a rally during the recent visit to the MDP stronghold by new President.


58 thoughts on “Security forces use water cannon on MDP women’s sit-down protest”

  1. a bit of a shower, a little pushing and a bit of groping and tearing of clothes, its just nothing. Go and file a complaint! is what the commissioner says
    what a shame! I think we have gone back way too far!Such a shame on us

  2. “As we were coming back some went to the President Office to deliver letters to request Waheed resign. So while they did that, we sat down to peacefully protest. However, almost immediately police came and used a high pressure water hose,” said Dr Zulfa, who was also at the sit-down demonstration.

    “There is no way to end this brutality,” she said. “The international community has failed to see this day after day. Anywhere else in the world this would be a shameless military coup.”

    Dr. Zulfa you have twisted the story indeed.The truth is this. You and the rest of the women there disobeyd police orders. You were told to leave the place and you didn't. And some of your colleagues broke the police line which is a punishable offence. Stop talking about international community. international community and Majority of Maldivians sees the violce MDP is bringing on the streets. If you think international community is oblivious to MDP's gang style violence, and disregard to other peoples rights then you are very wrong. The international communit specially the foriegn governments see the ever changing story from Nasheed as to why he resigned. They also see the very vivid fact that Nasheed has taken no heed the call for negotiations rather decided to the complete opposite. To potest peacefully is a demecoratic right. But that does not mean you have the right to disrgard the goverment and public order. And that also doen't give you a mandate to disregard police orders. The only way the violence will stop is educated people like yourself (you call yourself a Dr)follow the principles of demecroacy and resolve crisis through negotiations and compromise, respect other peoples views with tolerence. MDP has not shown that simple yet essential quality in any of their leaders. All the chaos and violence we see on the streets of the tiny Island is brought on by MDP and Nasheed is a key figure in these violence. When police and security forces do what they have to do the MDP thugs call it heavy handedness.

  3. I condemn the police for their brutality towards our women . Women have a right to protest peacefully. It is our constitutional right to do so. The water blasting of our women exposing their bodies and ripping their clothes is unforgivable.

  4. The police brutality against our women must stop NOW. This is unacceptable and unforgivable. Where were the water cannons when the PPM mob were protesting against President Nasheed and crossed police lines to attack police and army officers? And nearly lynched President Nasheed?

    That surely would have been the time to bring out the water cannons?

    The protests show no sign of abating, one month after President Nasheed's resignation. If anything it is likely to escalate the longer we carry on with an administration that is yet to establish the legitimacy that the people and the international community are calling for.

    So more water cannons? What next? Water boarding? Jails full of protesters?

  5. @Radhun

    You have described Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Yaamin Abdul Gayoom. Well done. Just substitute their names where you have written Annis name and you will see the truth of who are the vabaa of Maldives.

  6. Hilarious to see some saying the women were sent out. Women in this day and age know how to use their own minds and make decisions. From what i recall the area near the president's office was restricted before also, but during Nasheed's time so many people gathered there for various reasons and never once were they hosed down like this. Water hose at close range is very harmful and there is no excuse for doing that to the women to the extent of tearing their dresses. Utterly shameful, where is Aneesa where is Dhiyana? Is it only certain women in maldives that are accorded respect. The policemen who participated in this are beyond shame, they forgot that women carried them in their wombs. I did vote for Nasheed in 2008 purely because i wanted to get rid of Gayoom. But now after all these atrocities seeing how all other political parties don't give a damn while citizens are humiliated and beaten up on the streets just for voicing thier opposition , i believe Nasheed is the only humane leader we can have in this country and he is the only person i will vote for in the next election.

  7. huh.. this is what the non muslims..want us to play.. asking for a democracy.. just one of u give me a peacefull country having democracy.... its clearly written in quran..that they will start playing with muslim minds..its the only thing to make them weak..see this is it.. what would happen now..if they come to us.. we cant trust each other now..

  8. It is getting more obvious by the day how out of touch this rogue regime is with the thinking of Maldivians.Read our lips: we are NOT STUPID. We have moved on, you haven't. You have also seriously underestimated our women.We are civilised enough to handle democracy, maybe these thugs are not (Umar Naseer, thanks for giving the game away so beautifully)Those who use religion to belittle democracy and condone this current disgusting behaviour need to re-examine their hearts and I suggest their heads.Religion is something entirely personal, not a political system, look into your conscience and stop misquoting the Holy Quran for your ends. And those amateur psychologists amongst you,suggest you apply your routine diagnosis of Nasheed (antisocial personality disorder, yawn) to the brothers Gayoom and their motley crew instead, the most incompetent,corrupt and murderous Maldivians in our history, shame on you.


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