The Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) protests in Malé escalated into violence over the weekend, with police and protesters sustaining injuries, arrests of demonstrators, intimidation of reporters, attacks on police, torching of police vehicles and vandalism of several businesses.
The MDP has vowed to continue street protests from July 8 until President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s administration is brought to an end. The party alleges President Mohamed Nasheed was deposed in a coup d’état on February 7 and has called for early elections.
Police arrested more than 65 protesters over the weekend, including the MDP Youth Wing President Aminath Shauna on Friday evening, and President Nasheed’s former legal advisor Hisaan Hussein on Saturday evening.
Shauna was released by the Supreme Court on Saturday at 9:00pm, after Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed ruled that she not take part in protests for 21 days.
On Thursday night Minivan News observed dozens of policemen with riot gear and batons charging at protesters gathered at the junction of Chaandhanee and Fareedhee streets at approximately 1:00am. Protesters had heckled police and refused repeated police orders to disperse from the area. Some had also thrown empty water bottles at police.
A Minivan News reporter was among the crowd that ran before the police into the Sultan Park near the protest area. Pavement stones were flying in the park, but it was not clear who was throwing them. The crowd then gathered at the Chaandhanee and Majeedhee Magu junction afterwards. Minivan News saw a truck full of policemen driving through the streets at high speed, and individual policemen threatening and taunting protesters.
In a statement on Friday, police said MDP’s protests on Thursday night had turned into “riots” with protesters attacking law enforcement officers with chilli-infused water and pavement stones. A police officer was diagnosed with retrograde amnesia after being hit on the head, police claim.
The MDP have meanwhile accused President Waheed’s administration of systematically undermining civil and political rights, stating that police had “baton-charged demonstrators, used pepper spray and reportedly fired rubber bullets at unarmed protesters.”
Those arrested also included two disabled women, the MDP said.
“Demonstrators were always within demonstrating area set by regulation when police violently dispersed the crowd,” the MDP claimed. Police also attacked and beat President Nasheed’s former Human Rights Ambassador Mohamed “Go-go” Latheef and Malé Mayor “Maizan” Ali Manik, the party claimed.
The protest continues at the Chaandhanee Magu and Fareedhee Magu junction at the time of press.
Zero tolerance, say police
In a statement on Friday, police claimed protesters had attacked nine law enforcement officers “while a group of MDP activists brutally beating other security personnel and hitting his head has sent the officer into a retrograde amnesia.”
According to police, officers repeatedly asked the protesters to disperse from the area after midnight, but protesters threw glass pebbles and heavy lead balls at the police. The police were then forced to show “zero tolerance” to control the “atrocity” against them, the statement read.
Protesters attacked police media personnel, beat and threw a 45-year old man into the sea, broke the window panes of two shops, snatched seven mobile-radio sets and attacked several police officers, the police claimed.
In the attacks on the police, several police vehicles were damaged and one was set on fire, police added.
“The mob went on savaging the Male’ City streets, attacked another police officer and damaged his police motor bike near Masjid-Al-Zikra, a mosque in Majeedhee magu close to the junction. The mob also throwing pave stones to a police vehicle broke its window panes near the Le’cute’ shop, and a few yards east to the central junction on Majeedhee Magu scorched another motor bike,” the statement read.
Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz on Twitter on Friday said he had instructed the Operation Commander to take necessary action to minimise injuries to police officers. Police Spokesperson Hassan Haneef explained Riyaz’s statement to local media Sun Online as meaning an instruction to take action to disperse protests at the first sign of violence.
Meanwhile, the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) on Thursday evening conducted breathalyzer tests on police on duty after protesters alleged police on duty were intoxicated. The test results were negative.
“Rights in full retreat”
The MDP has condemned police attacks on its MPs, journalists and protesters. MDP members have posted photos on social media depicting bruises and bloody cuts allegedly caused by the police.
MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Gafoor said “civil and political rights are in full retreat. The police are responsible for daily human rights violations but nobody is ever prosecuted for these crimes – impunity has become the norm.”
The MDP has condemned the arrest of its Youth Wing President Aminath Shauna, and claims the arrest was “highly targeted.”
Police have denied any political motive behind Shauna’s arrest and said she was charged with obstruction of police duty.
Shauna’s arrest has meanwhile sparked international media attention with an online petition and a Twitter campaign calling for her release. A professor at Westminster College in the US state of Missouri has asked President Barack Obama to seek Shauna’s release. Shauna graduated from Westminster College in 2008.
“I fear for her safety and her life. I call on President Obama to demand her immediate release from prison and to grant her political asylum in the United States. She is the victim of political repression,” Professor of Political Science John Langton told newspapers the Fulton Sun and the Kansas City Star.
Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed released Shauna at 9:00 pm on Saturday evening on the condition that she does not take part in protests for 21 days.
Reporters of private television station Raajje TV, which broadcasts live coverage of MDP protests, told Minivan News they had to stop coverage after receiving death threats at around 4:00am on Friday.
Cameraman Ibrahim Riyaz said police had been verbally abusive towards him and journalist Zaidhullah Shabeen all night.
“When protesters set fire to the motorbike, a police officer came looking for us. Then we heard other police officers in riot gear say, ‘let’s beat them, destroy them and the station,’” he said.
Raajje TV reports its cameraman Mohamed Shanoon fell unconscious after being baton-charged and suffered a collarbone injury on Wednesday night.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has expressed concern over attacks on journalists from police and protesters. Private television station DhiTV’s presenter Mohamed Ameeth was mobbed by protesters on Wednesday evening.
Violence was relatively low on Friday night. Nineteen people were arrested, and police said they had dispersed protesters at 2:00am “without the use of force.”
However, protesters told Minivan News police in trucks had driven at them at high speeds causing protesters to scatter.
“We were afraid they would run us over,” protester Ahmed Yasmin said.
16 thoughts on “Violence escalates in Malé as police clash with MDP protesters”
This is the headline that the MDP and their pet website Minivannews want to keep repeating ad nauseum. Each time though, the context they present is dishonest.
This is becoming increasingly transparent to both ordinary citizens and the international community.
Yes their has been an escalation in violence. The MDP escalated by burning down vehicles and buildings belonging to the state, and law enforcement officials were pressured into taking harsh steps in response to unacceptable levels of vitriol and threats to public security.
Of couse this was always the MDP's intent: break laws and engage in violence hence goading the police into resorting to force. Then capture select bits on video-camera which they will use to construct and sustain the narrative that the country is fast descending into a police state.
What we have here is sensationalist journalism collaborating with political interests.
The truth is, law enforcement officials are merely trying to restore order. Every arrest made and every baton swing to the head has been well earned, not least for the contempt and vitriol the MDP have expressed towards our state institutions and our men and women in uniform.
To return to the subject of the headline, bravo for persistance but marks off for originality and believability Minivannews. 🙂
This article says that Shauna was released at 9 PM on Saturday. However, her close friend Sabra Noordeen announced her release on Facebook at 7 PM on Saturday. Maybe a small discrepancy in reporting Zaheena?
Shauna's best friend, Zaheena, who coincidentally happens to be the author of this piece wrote on Facebook earlier on Saturday, "The one good thing about this arrest is that it increases her street credibility". Therefore, one cant help but wonder whether she got herself arrested on purpose to 'increase her street credibility'. These arrests can certainly be useful in campaigning for elections and lobbying for international awards.
"Some had also thrown empty water bottles at the police". I am afraid that more than empty water bottles were thrown at the police. Pavement stones, marbles and 'chilli water' were also thrown at the police.
"Yes their has been an escalation in violence. The MDP escalated by burning down vehicles and buildings belonging to the state..."
You seem to forget the unjustifiable violence inflicted upon MDP members and general public on the 8th of february right before a peaceful sitting in front of MMA.
Lets not dishonor what is on video evidence and what we all saw.
If the journalism on this small website does not appeal to your taste, perhaps you are better off watching TVM, VTV and DhiTV. you will find it more appealing to your kind of hypocrisy.
There you can enjoy Yoope's latest dance video, Gayoom propaganda and other tele dramas while there is protesting on the streets of the capital by 100s of people,
but when your 20 odd people protest in front of MMA, your channels were up all night live streaming creating enough chaos to overthrew elected governments.
How is that for sensational journalism and reporting?
How can a judge take her rights away.
K.N get a life and some education
K.N - "every baton swing to the head has been well earned"? Oh really now? They're trying to restore order but it isn't the order people voted for; the only thing they want restored is the menace and power they lost during the reform movement. What's becoming transparent to the international community is how deep the roots of a dictators corruptions can spread. If there's confusion, by dictator I mean Maumoon, the guy that was in power for 30 years using torture, violence and aggression unless you haven't noticed.
lawyers like kutti gnashed are encouraging this violence.. highly irresponsible especially begin an MP http://haruge.com/?p=414
these accusations about mdp burning down state properties and vehicles are unsubstantiated and is still being investigated. the acts of arson were premeditated by addu drug lords (sirra & co., to be precise) in collaboration with drp/ppm activists as a springboard to incriminate mdp in the country a a whole. supposing that the pillaging were actually perpetrated by mdp members, it begs the question a to why the incidents should take place so far away from male -- ground zero, as it were.
I wasinside hithadoo youth centre when a dozen hooligans arrived.at the hirhadhoo court armed with a container of petrol and kindle. looked around, had a smoke and then went in to do the deed.
today these same thugs roam the streets of addu with full immunity from the law, running drugs and cooking moonshine. the police turns a blind eye on it all. if I didn't know any better they are in on this racket too.
this is what we are seeing everyday in maldives and we dont know what whill happen next. i am disturbed by the demonstrators but i fully support them as they are fighting to get back democracy from dicttators and have been changed by a coup on feb 7th 2012. this is terror at its best.
Pressure should mount on the so called Banana republican police and test the will power of this moronic force that how long they can with stand to protect the illegitimate government selected by them. I bet they are ready to scarify their life to protect and save anything that is undemocratic. A force created by a dictator to protect his***s for 30 years. Anni’s biggest fault was to support this force he could have dismantled them and created a private security firm to police for the sake of public safety, we may have not come to this stage today
violence is leading both sides into big trouble ( indication of a civil war).
today the public understood that both sides are to blame in the reckless fight for power.
i am still hoping that the people will open their eyes and see the truth....
The brutal dictatorship that lost the last election is back!! Election now to save our country!
agree with K.N
i dont trust a single thing written on this website. it has zero credibility.
Traitors have invaded our constitution.
Parliament and Judiciary have let us down.
There is no JUSTICE here.
Systems that should be serving and protecting the people's rights have violated their vows.
The constitution of Maldives do not allow a government be thrown out by violence or otherwise excepting a vote of no confidence as stipulated in the constitution!
The Parliament and the Judiciary must come together and give the people justice!
However, it is sad to say that these peoples are a part and parcel of what came upon us! And they are blind!
Serve justice to peoples; this will simmer down!
"Yes their has been an escalation in violence. The MDP escalated by burning down vehicles and buildings belonging to the state, and law enforcement officials were pressured into taking harsh steps in response to unacceptable levels of vitriol and threats to public security."
@K.N, who ever you are; you say, "The truth is, law enforcement officials are merely trying to restore order. Every arrest made and every baton swing to the head has been well earned, not least for the contempt and vitriol the MDP have expressed towards our state institutions and our men and women in uniform.".
Where as in reality, they are trying to defend the coup (if you were Kutti Nasheed, was in the center of its formation and execution) you brought, using them.
Incident of gnashing a person's arm, and nearly splitting a women's head if not violence was prior to the the burning of a vehicle of the state! Just wonder what you would call this!
People like K.N, can never get a life or education!
its not MDP escalated these violence and it is done by Anni. Anni is the man who need to be locked to bring the peace to the nation.
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