Police and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) arrested almost 60 people, including children, in a joint special operation launched on July 15.
A police media official confirmed that on July 15 five people were arrested, four more the next day, 14 on July 19 and 33 people yesterday from different areas of the capital Male’.
He also said that two stabbings occurred in Male’ the day before yesterday.
“One of the victims was is admitted to Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) with a serious condition, but the other person’s condition was not so serious,” the media official said. “Ss he is still undergoing treatment, we cannot provide further details of the injuries.”
Reports of Police-MNDF mistreatment
Many of those who were arrested last night in the special operations claimed that the police and MNDF officers mistreated and abused their rights during their arrest and detention.
“I was arrested yesterday afternoon at 5:00pm while I was on the way to Dharumavantha Scool to get a document,” one of those arrested told Minivan News. “While I was waiting near the traffic lights on Sosun magu, two policemen and two MNDF officers told me to be freeze, came up behind me and handcuffed me and my friend,” said the 19 year-old, who was released this afternoon.
“I asked them on what charges they were arresting me, and where they were taking me, and they said they needed me to clarify some information.”
He said the officers pushed him into a police bus and blindfolded him with his hands tied with clips.
“They took me to a place and removed my silver ear-rings, my bracelets, necklace and sunglasses,” he claimed. “Then they took me to a place and removed the blindfold on my eye, and ordered me to remove my clothes. I refused, but I had no other choice so I did, and they told me to bend over. They harassed me verbally and physically.”
He said the officers were covering their faces.
“After checking me they blindfolded me again, and then took me to somewhere else. I asked them where they were taking me, they said that I should speak only when I am spoken to,” he said. “They pushed me into another room, where they trimmed my hair. When I tried to refuse, they hit beat me.”
He said that the price of his jewelry confiscated by police and MNDF was “not less” than Rf2000.
“They said anything collected would not be returned,” he said.
He also claimed that another boy’s necklace was also taken, which he claimed was a memorial to his dead mother and begged the police officers to give it back when he was released. But the officers replied “’You have to send a letter to us requesting the necklace. You might get it then’,” he claimed.
A 14 year-old boy who was arrested yesterday at 5:00pm near Giyasudeen School claimed that police treated him the same.
“They arrested me when I came out from the stadium after playing football. They told me that they needed to arrest me, and when I asked them why I was being arrested they said I was on some kind of list and that their superiors had ordered them to arrest me,” said the 14 year-old. “Then they shackled my legs and arms and blindfolded me. I was shocked – it was the first time anything of this kind has happened to me.”
The boy said he was kept blindfolded for a long time somewhere, and when he requested food it was denied.
“I asked them to provide at least some water, and they said people like us did not deserve to drink water. They removed my necklace, all my rings, and my mobile phone.”
He said the officers did not give any of his possession back when he was released this afternoon.
“It was a silver necklace, it cost Rf1300. They did not even give my mobile phone back,” he added.
“They took me into a small room and removed the blindfold, and took up a trimmer. I asked them why they had to cut my hair, and they said they were getting me into the religion of Islam. I refused them permission to cut my hair, and I looked at the ground I saw blood all over the floor,” he said. “They started beating me when I refused.”
Another 16 year-old boy who was arrested near Ahmadiyya school and was released this morning claimed that he was also mistreated yesterday.
“They said I was taken on an order from their superiors,” he said. “They threw me in to the police bus. I told them I have a big wound in the back.”
He said the officers took him blindfolded and handcuffed.
“They took me somewhere, and told me to sit down,” he said. “I checked with my hands to make sure there was a chair, and when I touched the chair when I turned to sit down they pulled the chair away. Again they hurt my wound and I told them that it hurt.”
He said the officers asked him to show them his wound, and when he removed his shirt they started hitting the wound and asking whether it hurt.
“They used filthy words to speak to us and treated us really badly,” he added.
A police media official said that some of those arrested had their hair trimmed because they had changed their appearance to one different from the photos police used to identify them.
He denied that police and MNDF had tortured those taken into custody.
The mother of one of the boys told Minivan News that police had taken her son in a raid on Heniveru Youth Centre.
“He is very lazy and is addicted to computer games, and spends most of his time at home or in the gaming centre there,” she said.
“He never gets involved in delinquent or criminal activities. The MNDF/police clipped his hands while he was ordering food at the cafeteria and took him in a vehicle to Kalhuthukkala koshi (police station) where he was blindfolded, handcuffed, stripped, and checked. He was released around 2:00am after his picture and fingerprints were taken and he signed the police records.”
The boy’s mother said the police documentation on his release said he had “been detained in relation to criminal activities by street groups and was to see if he had anything illegal. The reason for their detention was to check if he possessed ‘anything’,” she said.
“There must have been a lot of innocent boys there among the 60-odd youths in the police yard. My son said he felt like a terrorist when the police took his clothes off and made him bend down Guantanamo Bay style. He said he wished he had done something to deserved such harassment.”