The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) has pressed charges against two police officers for allegedly assaulting Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and Mariya Ahmed Didi on February 8, 2012 during a brutal police crackdown.
Local media identified the accused as Mohamed Waheed from the island of Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and Ibrahim Faisal from Machangolhi Rausha of Male’.
Mohamed Waheed was charged with hitting ‘Reeko’ Moosa in the head with a metal canister while Ibrahim Faisal was accused of assaulting MP Mariya Didi while she was inside a shop in Male’.
Faisal is also accused of hitting Mariya Didi in the face while police officers dragged her from the shop.
On February 8, thousands of MDP supporters took to the streets after former President Mohamed Nasheed declared that his resignation the previous day was made “under duress” in a “coup d’etat” instigated by mutinying Special Operations (SO) police officers.
On August 22, 2012, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) released an investigative report (Dhivehi) which concluded that the police crackdown on the MDP march, which left dozens of demonstrators injured, was “brutal” and “without prior warning.”
Thirty-two people filed complaints with the HRCM concerning the varying degrees of injuries they sustained in the crackdown, while 20 people also submitted medical documents pertaining to the treatment of those wounds.
Among the injuries caused by the police baton charge, the HRCM report noted that several people were bruised and battered, one person had a fractured leg bone, another person’s arm was broken, and six people sustained head wounds.
Two fingers on the left hand of one demonstrator were crushed, the report also noted, and the victim had to undergo a corrective operation.
Meanwhile, the former ruling party informed the HRCM that their march across Male’ was spontaneous and that the party had not planned to stage any protests on February 8.
While riot police baton-charged the front line of protestors on February 8, Minivan News observed riot police also charging the crowd from a narrow alley leading to the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) area.
The SO police officers used obscene language, pointed to and chased after individual MDP activists and severely beat unarmed civilians.
Al Jazeera news filmed parts of the attack from the rear and reported that on February 8 “police and military charged, beating demonstrators as they ran – women, the elderly, [with] dozens left nursing their wounds.”
Amid the clashes, a group of opposition demonstrators infiltrated the crowds, attacking MDP supporters, according to witnesses.
Former President Nasheed was reported among the injured, having received head injuries during the clashes. He was briefly taken under police custody before being released back into the crowd.
Minivan News also observed several youth with head injuries queuing up for x-rays in the waiting area outside the reception area of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).
One young woman who went IGMH with her sister was being treated for a head wound. The gauze wrapped around her head was spotted with blood, and she claimed the wound was still bleeding as she went in for an X-ray.
“The police were just standing there and suddenly we were being beaten with batons and pepper spray was thrown in our face. They threw us to the ground and kept beating us,” she said.
The BBC meanwhile reported “a baton charge by police on crowds gathered outside one of the main hospitals.”
“People scattered as officers sprinted towards them silhouetted against the lights of passing traffic,” the BBC’s Andrew North reported from Male’.
“Inside the hospital, dozens of Mr Nasheed’s supporters are still being treated for injuries, following earlier scuffles in the main square. Among them is Reeko Moosa Maniku, chairman of Mr Nasheed’s Maldives Democratic Party – who was with the former president when the clashes broke out. With a large head bandage and his shirt bloodied, he regained consciousness as we arrived. The police said they would kill me, he told us, as they beat me. Another MP was still unconscious in another ward.”