Shops vandalised, police station damaged in third night of violent protests

A third night of violent protests in Male’ ended around 4:00am this morning after the windowpanes of a police station were smashed, shops vandalised and fires started across the city.

Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd gathered at the intersection of Male’s main street Majeedee Magu and the tourist strip Chaandhanee Magu, the focal point of the protests so far, after a group of MDP activists arrived and clashed with opposition protesters and young people around 11:30pm.

The two sides were separated by police but continued attacking each other with bricks and bottles. Police appealed for people to leave the area and eventually dispersed the crowd at 12am using tear gas.

“Police dispersed the two crowds using tear gas to minimise the amount of force that would need to be applied,” Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News.

Police, he said, had noticed that “once the criminal activity starts most people leave the protest.”

A group of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists then gathered outside the house of the former President’s half brother, Abdulla Yameen, before being moved on by police and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

Meanwhile, anti-government protesters gathered outside the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building.

“The opposition [demonstrators] gathered in the area for 1-2 hours and started several fires in the road before they were dispersed with teargas,” Shiyam said. “ Later they attacked a police building in Maafaanu and a police vehicle, vandalised the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) headquarters and set several more fires. They also smashed the window of the STO Home Improvement store. The opposition MPs who had gathered at the MMA building left when vandalism began.”

The remaining crowd kept moving, Shiyam said. “Most of those involved were people known by police to be involved in criminal activities.”

More than 30 people were eventually arrested. Some police officers were injured and police property was also damaged.

“We saw some protesters [hurt] but we received no reports of serious injuries,” Shiyam said.

Of the 52 people arrested for violence the previous evening, whom police claimed were connected to various gangs in Male’, most were subsequently released by the Criminal Court while “12-15” remain in police custody.

The opposition has maintained that the demonstrations against the government’s decision to implement a managed float of the rufiya are led by youth unhappy with rising commodity prices, despite the active involvement of dismissed opposition Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, and MPs Ilham Ahmed, Ahmed Mahlouf, Ali Waheed, and Ahmed Nihan.

The government has meanwhile accused former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s faction of the opposition of instigating and organising the protests.

“The government understands that many people are concerned about the economy and recent price rises and we are doing everything possible to ease the situation,” the President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair said in a statement.

“Peaceful protest is legal and welcome in the Maldives’ new democracy. But former President Gayoom is taking advantage of economic situation to cause violence in the streets. These protests are more to do with Gayoom trying to shore up his position in the opposition, than the state of the economy,” he claimed.

“In the Middle East, you have democrats on the streets bringing down dictatorships. Ironically, in the Maldives, the remnants of the former dictatorship are trying to bring down democracy.”

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) meanwhile issued a press release urging people not to misuse the right to protest “and obstruct the media.”

The commission said that protesting late at night in densely populated areas “violates the right of many others.”

”We call on the police not to disperse the protests by using methods that harm the protesters and civilians,” HRCM said.

At a press conference today, Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohamed Rishwan said protests would be restricted to the artificial beach and the tsunami monument areas in Male’, unless prior permission was given by police or Male’ City Council.

The government meanwhile defended its decision to float the currency within 20 percent of the pegged rate of Rf12.85 “as part of a package of measures introduced on the advice of the central bank, International Monetary Fund and other multi lateral organisations, in order to reduce the country’s budget deficit and stabilise the economy.

“According to the World Bank, in late 2008 the Maldives was in the worst economic situation of any country undergoing democratic reforms since 1950s. The budget deficit stood at 31 percent of GDP, inflation stood at 12 percent and the economy was reeling from a massive fiscal expansion which saw the government wage bill increase by almost 400 percent between 2004 and 2009.

“Since coming into office, the Nasheed administration has reduced the budget deficit from 31 percent to 16 percent of GDP, helped ease the chronic dollar shortage through a managed float of the Ruffiya and brought the economy from recession to 4 percent growth this year,” the President’s Office said in a statement.

The IMF has pressured the government to cut back on its disproportionate public sector wage bill, however austerity measures attempted last year ended up in a political stalemate and the government instead embarked on a program of corporatisation, allowing it to hire and fire while circumventing what it claimed was the opposition-driven machinations of the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Opposition spokesman Ibrahim Shareef has accused the MDP of financial mismanagement and recklessly increasing spending, without investing “in productive resources that ensure future revenue for the country, and reducing expenditure in areas that do not affect the people – such as foreign missions.”

“They need not reduce the civil service, because these are the lowest paid government employees and reducing their numbers would have not tangible effect. But the top players in government – the political positions – and positions in the paper companies created by the government are many areas [that can be reduced],” Shareef claimed.

The government recently announced an incentive programme to encourage public sector employees as young as 18 to leave the civil service, offering lump sum payments of between Rf 150,000 – Rf 200,000, which was positively received by the CSC.


13 thoughts on “Shops vandalised, police station damaged in third night of violent protests”

  1. correct.. this has little to do with inflation.. even if its inflation, its not Anni who is raising the prices of goods. he is doing a lot to steer the economy in the correct direction, but they don't see this...


  3. @ish - does human rights protect NEIGHBORHOOD, BUSINESSES AND PUBLIC PROPERTY ?

    damn maldives is on the verge breaking up...

  4. Why cant the Maldivians do peaceful protests without damaging others property and putting on fires all over the streets...

  5. Last night's protests were peaceful before the MDP activists came.

    When the MDP activists came and started throwing bricks and missiles at the protesters, the protesting youth, too, got angry and started to attach back. On TV it appeared that this was controlled by the organisers of the protests. But soon afterwards, the police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. What happened afterwards was a fight between MDP activists and the protesters. The MDP activists continued to follow the protesters and confronted them.

  6. ibrahim yasir, you just took the words right out of my mind, its the right of every citizen to voice their concern, but in such a manner.....

  7. So, "Hong Kong has issued a travel advisory for the Maldives, raising the country to ‘amber’, following several nights of violent protests in the capital Male’.

    “Those who plan to visit the Maldives or are already there should monitor the situation and exercise caution.”

    The threat indicator now ranks the Maldives alongside Israel, Iran, Indonesia, Russia and Pakistan."

    Just as well the tourists will stop coming as there will be no shops to serve them after the whole city has been smashed up, and Male' burned to the ground. I'm all for the freedom of speech, but agree with @ ibrahim yasir, and @ \m/ it is possible to get the point heard without destroying everything.

    Maldivians seem to have a problem with respecting each other, and others property. In the word of Black Eyed Peas 'where is the love?'

    With all the drugs, knives, killings, gangs, child abuse, protests, a sleepy Human Right Commission, and the rising of the ocean, I'm going to start building me a raft and sail on over to Malaysia, leaving the savages behind to fight over a broken land

  8. If DRP or other opposition activists or any public gathering against the government takes place, it is best for the Government and Police to make sure that MDP activists are kept away first.

    This way who ever is demonstrating does not have a reason to blame others for the violence and also has a chance to proof that they can demonstrate peacefully without instigating or promoting any violence.

    If people would like to see examples of mature demonstrations in the world, one good example is the Anti-War campaign in London before the Iraq invasion by US and its allies. We had over a million peaceful demonstrators on the street that day.. yet there was no violence. This is a few times more in numbers than the Maldives population. So lets try to be a bit mature. Especially the loud speaking politicians in Maldives who tend to steer anger in the demonstrators in a way that it is most likely to result in violence instead of civil peaceful disobedience.

    MDP leadership need to advise their supporters to allow peaceful demonstrations by others. If others spread lies, than counter those lies another day in the same area with your own peaceful demonstration or leafletting. Be smart so that the streets are kept safe. When there is violence just cause two parties does not like each other, you are turning this beautiful country into another Thailand.

  9. this is how anni started now he have to suffer his own medicine of democracy ..when he started protesting was it peaceful demonstration tha ...i dont think so it was the same and ANNI himself following maumoon so much ..all Anni wants is awards he dsnt mind maldives going down he want to se himself with a nobel price ... i dnt no why people cant see Anni so much alike with maumoon ... so why is he always talking about maumoon ...there is nothing different ... and i guess ani did the same to come to power now its time for some one else .... coz anni failed in every way ...

  10. and when anno was there to protest all he was talking was about human rights and things why no human rights now why the police force ..why is he making everyone angry ..... hama failed

  11. The opposition and those leading the protest should voice their demands clearly. They haven't done this because the "Costing of Living" is just an excuse to riot. And no, a demand to lower the exchange rate is not a valid demand. If it were possible to do so,what is stopping us from getting $100 to every rufiya!

    Comparison with MDP demonstrations with these riots is laughable. Then, under the dictatorial regime the protesters faced arrest and torture. Today unless they attacked police with weapons, they are let go after sitting in an air conditioned room for 6 hours.

    Umar Naseer can smirk proudly while being arrested because he knows that he will not be accorded the same harsh treatment he gave to detainees while he was in the security forces. Today he talks of police heavy handedness, what a hypocrite.

    Economic problems are faced all over the world. These are not "bread" riots, which happen when desperately poor people demonstrate. Most demonstrators are misinformed people being used for political gain. The rest are paid thugs.

    During the past 10 years we had a 400% increase in public spending, most of this money went to salaries. From the lowly street sweepers to the Court Justices, all govt employees have had an increase in salaries more than the devalued 20%. Even the junior civil servants' salaries had increased, for some by 50%.

    The dollar devaluation will in any case have a detrimental effect on the poorest of the poor. However, these are not the people represented in these demonstrations. A case in example, last night there was a representative of the organizers talking on VTV last night. The interviewer asked him to counter the govt's argument that the prices have not risen all that much. To prove his point he asked VTV to check the prices in Male Cafes for a cup of coffee (apparently risen from Mrf 15 to 25), his other example was the price of Power Gold Energy Drink. These people have absolutely no idea of what hardship is!

    I call on all fellow Maldivians who are thinking about demonstrating to think about what they are doing and the consequences in the future. We do not want to open this box and release the hornets. If Anni is so bad just vote him out in 2013. If you continue this and force his resignation this will become the never ending story of demonstrations like in Thailand.

  12. Agree with peasant! And anyone with half a brain would see what a hypocrite that Umar Naseer is! A former torturer now fighting for the rights of the public? If he's truly sorry, maybe he can start off by apologizing in public to his victims! I can't believe that people are actually following him and hanging on to his every word! Really sad!

  13. Is it shops or a shop vandalised? check your stats before you write my dear friend!


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