MJA calls on police to provide opportunity for journalists to cover protests freely

The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has called on police and defense forces to provide opportunity for the press to cover protests freely, referring to an incident last night where journalists wearing press identification were ordered to leave the area, effectively bringing the protest coverage to a halt, while those who refused to leave were arrested.

‘’Police last night arrested two journalists and a web developer for the Sun Media group,’’ said the MJA in a press release. ‘’Some of them were arrested while were even wearing the press identification.’’

MJA claimed that journalists covering last night’s protest were physically attacked and one had pepper sprayed directly in the face.

‘’We remind journalists to work responsibly while covering protests or any other activity,’’ the MJA added.

Meanwhile the police issued another statement on the incident saying that they had been  informed that the protesters would be violent.

Police alleged that protesters caused damage to public property and committed arson.

‘’As the police were informed about the plans [beforehand], police met with Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs Ahmed Mahlouf and Ahmed Nihan and requested them not to conduct any such activities,’’ said police in the statement.

Police said that protesters disturbed the residents of the area, blocked traffic and that people living in the area were unable to reach their houses.

“Police discovered that lot of loose stones were hidden in the area for the protesters to attack police officers and public property,’’ police claimed. ‘’We also noticed that persons connected with gangs took part in this protest from the beginning.’’

Police also said that where necessary strict action would be taken against those who became violent.