Umar Naseer among 30 arrested in fourth night of ‘cost of living’ protests

A fourth night of protests in the capital city of Male’ ended shortly after midnight with the arrest of 30 demonstrators, including former deputy leader of the opposition, Umar Naseer.

Protesters gathered at the artificial beach area made to march towards the intersection of Male’s main street Majeedee Magu and the tourist strip Chaandhanee Magu, the focal point of the protests so far, but were blocked by police.

Thirty people were taken into custody with most later released, including two men delivering a pizza and the former Deputy Leader of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Umar Naseer.

“Umar Naseer was trying to make the situation worse and was not obeying police orders,” Shiyam said, adding that the former deputy leader was released later in the evening.

Naseer was dismissed from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) last year by the party’s disciplinary committee, for organising protests without the authorisation of the party’s Council.

His dismissal from the party led to an acrimonious factional split, after the Elections Commission upheld the DRP’s decision to strike Naseer from the party’s membership register.

Last Thursday the ‘Z-DRP’ faction – named after the former president and ‘honorary leader’ Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, announced it was “commencing work”. The party has maintained that the four nights of violent protests since then are ‘youth-led’ demonstrations against the rising cost of living.

After being blocked by police, protesters – fewer than previous protests this week – split into groups and began gathering in areas across the city demanding Naseer be released.

Police did not use much force until a group of protesters came near the Chaandhanee Magu intersection and attempted to gather in the area.

Minivan News observed police aggressively dispersing protesters in the intersection with violent force. Well-known comedian Yousuf Rafeeu ‘Yousay’ was among the protesters and was reportedly injured and admitted to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), after a group of unknown assailants attacked him while he was attempting to run away from police.

Unlike previous protests this week, Minivan News did not observe a large gathering of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters attempting to clash with anti-government demonstrators.

Police continued to arrest small groups of protesters until 2:30am, using cable ties to restrain them and removing them from the scene.

Police also confiscated a pickup truck carrying speaker equipment they said was being used disruptively. It was later returned to its owner.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said shop owners around the intersection had begun complaining to police that the protests were adversely affecting their businesses. have been gathering – the intersection of Male’s main road Majeedeee Magu and the tourist strip on Majeedee Magu.

“The area has among the most expensive rents in Male’ and shop owners are complaining to us that they have been unable to profit every night of the riots, which are taking place during their peak trading hours,” Shiyam said. “They are taking huge financial loses.”

Deputy Commissioner of Police had Mohamed Rishwan yesterday announced that protests would be restricted to the open artificial beach and the tsunami monument areas in Male’, unless prior permission was given by police or Male’ City Council.

The week of protests has attracted international coverage. Spokesperon for former President Gayoom, Mohamed ‘Mundhu’ Shareef told Associated Press that the protesters had done nothing unlawful in trying to demonstrate in the intersection, as the constitution permitted protests at any place without notice.

The opposition has announced a large-scale demonstration on Friday, with reports that supporters from islands are being brought to Male’ for the protest.

The government has said it “welcomes peaceful protests and respects the right to freedom of assembly”, and acknowledged concerns about the economy, yesterday halving import tariffs on diesel.

However President Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary, Mohamed Zuhair, accused former President Gayoom “of taking advantage of economic situation to cause violence in the streets. These protests are more to do with Gayoom trying to shore up his position in the opposition, than the state of the economy.”

“It is unclear what Mr Gayoom hopes to achieve through violent protest. His faction says it wants ‘the price of things’ to fall. Perhaps Mr Gayoom could explain how throwing bricks, smashing windows and torching motorcycles helps reduce the cost of living,” Zuhair said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong yesterday became the first state to issue a travel advisory for the Maldives, raising the country to ‘amber’.

China’s Xinhua news agency reported a government spokesperson as saying that “Those who plan to visit the Maldives or are already there should monitor the situation and exercise caution.”

The threat indicator now ranks the Maldives alongside Israel, Iran, Indonesia, Russia and Pakistan.


17 thoughts on “Umar Naseer among 30 arrested in fourth night of ‘cost of living’ protests”

  1. With travel bans to Maldives this will bring more misery to the people of Maldives. The youth of this country is misled by the opposition to come out on to the streets so that they could label the protests as youth protests. The youth of this country should stop being “used” by politician. The young generation of this country are getting ready for exam. This island is too small and we cannot afford to have these fights every night. Don’t ruin this country for selfish reasons. The President should address the nation and explain what’s happening to our economy . By the way we talk of voaraa fiyafaariverin who stole from us.what about our viyafaariverin who increase the price of everything when we get a salary increase. Some people want to get rich overnight and do not save for the future. We act as spoilt brats when the world economy suffers .

  2. Great work DRP! By brining this idiotic protest to the notice of other countries, you are going to encourage a further increase in the prices of goods and services as tourism gets affected and businesses are forced to hike up prices to cover losses! Obviously DRP has no clue about the workings of the economy! Afterall why should they bother about what happens to us average Maldivians, when they have used the past 30 years to loot the country and invest in homes in UK, Spore, etc! Sadly our citizens who do not know any better are falling for this trap and believing all the BS that DRP is feeding them about price increases! And Mundhu why don't you go back to Bangalore where you are living with your family! Do you want to ruin out country since you have somewhere else to go and hide?!! Anyone with any sense can see how dangerous and costly these protests are for the people of Maldives and for the economy and anyone who participates in these protests not caring about what happens to us or the country, should be held accountable by law!!

  3. Good work DRP..The protests are already seeing results , import duty of diesel gas gone down by 50% , the electricity bills will be lower, STO is going to import a further 27 types of essential items...MAriyam and Naina wants us to keep quite while the MDP and its cronies keep getting rich and maybe they might just give us a few bread crumps, they want us to keep quite while we will be getting taxed,and our money is used to make the MDP rich ....keep the pressure on and keep protesting..but i suggest stay at artificial beach...believe me they will use force against you even if you stay at artificial beach..MDP is thirsty for blood...they just cant bear to see someone protesting against them...

  4. @Nars:
    maybe the government was planning on all these even before the protests started. why do we have our brains in our @$$..
    the protests are useless. i want to see the prices go down but that aint gonna happen. it will never happen ever!!! this the the world we live in. wake up, @Nars and smell the coffee. sheesh...

  5. Mundhu can hold his protests in front of his house, in accordance with the constitution. As these riots hinder my life and restricts movement within my home island it violates my constitutional rights too.

  6. Prices are going down not because of the Government or the protestors. They are going down because the Government is reducing the import duty diesel that is imported by STO.

    Do you think the price of diesel would go down even if the duty is reduced if diesel was imported by these ripoff merchants who pose as businessmen? Of course not.

    The MPD is not doing everything right but this is ridiculous if DRP thinks they can bring down a government that at least has the support of around 50% of the population.
    The DRP, if they want to hold the government accountable should come up alternate ways to ease the economy and the govern the country instead of shouting "Anni Isthiufaa".

    Any idiot can shout that but only a few people can show the show. So far neither DRP or the PA has shown any alternative to this.

    The main problem has been the economic crisis in The World and the fuel crisis.
    This is the same in most parts of The World, yet they do not come out and shout "Obama resign or Cameron resign" just because the cost of living has gone up. They are more intelligent than that and they know it is the World Economy that is the problem.
    The problem in The Maldives is that very few people understand or are bothered to learn in what is happening in the rest of The World.
    Gayoom created all this problems by printing Ruffiyya just to keep himself in power. This is the crux of the issue in the dollar shortage complicated by the forecast that the newly released resorts would bring a certain amount of foreign currency to the country.
    However, there resorts have not been constructed or are in operation so far.

    The only choice is to reduce the budget and to have austerity measure for about an year and a half and the economy would be in good health.
    Also why are imbeciles like Umar Naseer, Mahloof, Nihan, and people who have no clue about anything close to economics are leading these kinds of demonstrations while there are many learned people in DRP who are good economists, who never come out in public and tell the people what should be done to ease the economic crisis?

  7. @Nars: If you want to talk about the rich people in this country, you may want to start off by looking at most of the party leaders in both factions of DRP!

    And please know your economics before talking BS about price increases and taxes...this is an import dependent economy and the foreign exchange market is dynamic, so how can prices not change?! And there will always be different changes to every economy due to internal and external forces and sometimes a transition period is required for the economy to stablize....whether we like it or not. And the only thing DRP is doing by these destructive protests is to anger citizens who do not believe DRP's view point! And they are not necessarily all MDP supporters! Be it DRP,MDP, Adaalath or any other Party, when they are compromising the rights of ordinary citizens to a peaceful life, at the expense of promoting the party's own political propaganda, then they are not doing anything heroic, no matter what name is given to the protest! And even if DRP were to gain power again, you can bet that the only way they can address the dollar shortage without depreciating the MRf would be if they were to bring back to the economy the millions of dollars they have looted from this country in the first place! So excuse me for thinking that DRP being concerned about ordinary citizen's welfare is anything but a hypocritical load of BS!

  8. shud give up coffee for a while..all night out drinking coffee at some cafe listen to self made political moguls and waking up late clouding your ability to seee the big picture..Vasalaam

  9. ooh by the way C- bag " nuroa dhariyakah kireh nulibeyney buneyenu" -- If the populations keeps quite without using our democratic right to protest, things will never change..its our right to remind government every now and that that there policies affect us..which is very easy to forget once you are high up..if we don't protest we risk being end up in another dictatorship for another 500 years..The maldivian people including myself deserve better and we have to demand for it...if we dont demand it the government will never provide.

  10. International Tour Operators are cancelling bookings to Maldives.....well done Nars you and your brilliant Zoo-DRPiers have shown the government.

  11. It seems how hyprocritical are these pro MDP-ians. Yestdarday they were blabbering and chanting for the right to protest and now they are distorting the very ideal they believed. MDP seems to be the most undemocratic party and probably worser than a communist party, that have hijacked the state media and apportioning state wealth to key MDP-ians. Poor Maldivians!

  12. Andy-

    MDPians were blabbering about the right to protest during your DRP golden days, yet your beloved parliamentarians passed the law making it illegal to demonstrate between 10pm and 8am. Made sense back then because only MDP "thugs" protested then.

    Yeah MDPians are the hypocrites.

  13. ist that anni following maumoon and now everyone else following him good work anni ..... you can have this ...

  14. @NARS and ANDY

    If your leaders are sooooooo concerned for the public and how the prices are affecting us, why dnt u ask ur beloved GASIM to reduce the cost of GAS, reduce the price of MLE/TRIVADRM fare frm villa trvels and reduce petrol prices also. Ask meridium RIYAZ to reduce petrol prices by reducing his profit margin. Ask red wave SALEEM to reduce prices of commodities frm his shops. Ask jungiya NAZIM to reduce prices of laptops and IT related goods frm maxcom computers..... Let's see if their concern for this beloved nation exceeds that of their inexplicable greed for MONEY

  15. @ Andy: What this Z DRP and T DRP are doing cannot be defined as a Protest, as per the Constitution (since they are so quick to refer to the Constitution!!), its more like a public nuisance and their actions are not going to do anything to bring down prices, but rather increase it even more as businesses lose out on profits because of the destruction on the streets! And if you want to talk about hypocrites, lets ask the MPs "protesting" on the streets, if they are willing to cut back on their monthly salary, for the sake of cutting back on public expenditure for the sake of our Country?

  16. i dont like these riots and am very clear that i need a peaceful place to study for my exams starting next week. i dont care whether drp or mdp pls do not violate my freedom when you are exercising your freedom


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