US Ambassador “alarmed” by reports of violence as MDP protests continue

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Patricia Butenis has said she is “alarmed” by reports of police violence during the opposition Maldives Democratic Party’s (MDP) continued protests in Malé.   Butenis claimed intimidation of protesters and attacks on journalists “threaten Maldivians’ freedom of expression and right to information, and only contributes to instability.”

MDP members have meanwhile continued their street protests for a fourth consecutive day. The MDP alleges former President Mohamed Nasheed was ousted in a coup d’etat on February 7, and have held regular protests calling for fresh elections.

Although protests have generally remained peaceful, Monday night saw violent clashes between police and protesters. Over 50 protesters have been arrested since Sunday (July 8), but only 12 remain in police custody at present. Two journalists were also arrested on Monday evening, but released after a few hours in detention.  Private broadcaster DhiTV has meanwhile alleged that one of its presenters was attacked by MDP supporters on Tuesday (July 10) afternoon, whilst the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) appealed for media representatives to refrain from taking part in opposition protests.

“We call on journalists and the police to behave professionally as they carry out their respective, crucial functions,” Butenis told reporters at a press conference this morning.

Raajje TV has denied accusations its journalists had been directly involved in the protests, claiming that staff had conversely received “various forms of harassment and verbal abuse from the Maldives Police Service” as they attempted to cover the MDP protests held this week.

Butenis also expressed concern over the knife attack which nearly killed blogger Hilath Rasheed. He claims he was attacked because he advocated secularism.

Butenis said the government must protect protesters’ rights to demonstrate peacefully, and urged protesters to work with the state’s human rights protection mechanisms by filing police brutality allegations with the Human Rights Commission (HRCM) and the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

Butenis also welcomed the reconstitution of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) to include a foreign judge and a member to represent former President Nasheed.  The CNI, which was set up by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to investigate the controversial transfer of power, was reconstituted following international concerns over its impartiality.

The CNI report will inform the decision on whether and when to have early elections, Butenis said, adding that the US government will keep working with President Waheed’s administration in the meantime.

The US government will continue to keep a close watch on the progress of the CNI and the now-stalled all-party talks, she said. In her meetings with President Waheed and former presidents Nasheed and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Butenis said she emphasised the importance of the all-party talks and the CNI as a peaceful way forward.

The US government has previously pledged US$500,000 to provide technical support to the Elections Commission (EC) in order to ensure that the next presidential polls meet international standards. The US will also provide a US$20,000 grant to restore pre-Islamic artifacts in the National Museum, which were destroyed by a mob that broke into the building amid February 7’s political turmoil.

A further US$ 7million is currently in use to increase resilience of Dhidhoo and Hinnavaru Islands to climate change. The Ambassador visited Dhidhoo Island yesterday (July 10) to monitor a project to provide sustainable source of drinking water to the island’s 4000 inhabitants.

“It goes without saying that climate change is a major threat to the Maldives, so we’re partnering with the Maldivian government to create solutions that protect its islands,” Butenis said.

She will retire from her position as the US Ambassador to the Maldives and Sri Lanka in August.


16 thoughts on “US Ambassador “alarmed” by reports of violence as MDP protests continue”

  1. I suppose the persons responsible for the destruction of Museum artefacts have now bee arrested and will be brought to court..

  2. why did Minivan never mentioned that she had also urge the protester to protest within certain boundaries and be more responsible in doing the protest and within the norms that is acceptable to common man.

    She had also mentioned that journalist also need to be do more responsible journalism and to carry out their job in more professional manner.

  3. mode you are nuts! 99% of the news published on and from haveeru, sun, dhitv and vtv is just propaganda! Dictators are capable. Look back!

  4. And tsk tsk should be banned from this website as well for creating his own techniques of propaganda supporting the dictator. If any you are listening and believing to whatever stories he make up then you all are so stupid that you don't realize that they are trying to influence you each and every way possible. tsk tsk is here on a mission and anyone who doesn't have a nut in their brain will realize what he is up to!

    I can't believe how stupid some people can be that they ignore the facts!

  5. God blesses America, God has left Africa long time ago. God has forgotten Maldives.

    Guess which religion is Gods dearest?

  6. US Ambassador must have been drunk when she made that statement. Maldives Police Service personnel are trained by the Australian and American standards and they are one of the most highly respected professional police service in the whole world. I have seen their professionalism in MDP protests.

  7. USA have assisted and funded (usually with help from arab dictatorships)more coup d'états than any other country in history. your imperialist ass would see human rights abuses when it suits your overseas corporate interests. you are the worst scum of human civilization, a disease actually. cradle of the capitalist rape machinery. f**cking hypocrites, we are not surprised that you are choosing to be uncertain in saying anything concrete about the gayoom backed coup here. your unsustainable greedy development and lifestyle has cost us our land, your love affair with saudi oil lords and ignoring your puppet arab/muslim dictatorships like qayoom's have cost us our culture. now have nothing to like or appreciate about you b**ches. just get your act together and get ready for your downfall.

  8. Maldivian institutions should learn a thing or two about speaking in public from Patricia's press brief.

    She highlighted all the key issues and made constructive comments without unnecessarily stepping on any toes.

    Yes the freedom of expression should be protected by the State. She also made it a point to note that such freedoms should be expressed within reasonable limits.

    Yes freedom of the media is essential in a democratic society. She also made it a point to note that the media itself should be professional in carrying out its work.

    Yes law enforcement officials should uphold the rule of law. However as Patricia noted the police should be professional and should work to set out guidelines and systems within their actions are carried out. The use of force is justified in cases contrary to what certain political interests would have you believe.

  9. They may be trained from any part of the world.tak,tak have u not seen their brutish acts in the cover of arresting people? They have lost their profenalism in the work of defending this illegal and ruthless regime. There is no choice for these greedy police other than to suppress the public and doing in what ever they can.

  10. Baqee (Bandit) Waheed and Bandit Waheeduddin thought Her Excellency Patricia to be a fool. Publishing a statement saying that the MDP called her a Baaqee!!!!

    BW and them thought America do not know the truth and that she will be angry towards MDP when they issued this false statement.

  11. She was naive! she bought in to this quickly assembled ragtag army of agitators. What is sure is that MDP will gain small recognition from US but will loose many hearts and minds, the kind who will be needed in ballots.

  12. Maldives should be wary of US ambassadors especially after Robert Ford in Syria was basically organising the anti Assad opposition, and look what is happening there now as a result.

  13. LOL, you and the traitor Anni and cult will never want to hear anything and you will only hear and see what is good for you and then start your propaganda.

    Many of your comments are baseless and no facts and above all , no substances at all.

    You guys are good at creating violence and then keep calling " Baaghee" .

    May be you can say that it was a coup but it is fine since the coup was brought by majority. In a democratic society , majority prevails.


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