MJA condemns municipality head over scuffle with DhiTV cameraman

The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has demanded police investigate Head of Male’ Municipality Adam Manik “for attacking a DhiTV cameraman and snatching his camera while [the cameraman] was covering news outside Male’ Municipality.”

The MJA alleged that Manik attacked the cameraman, Hussain Najah, while he was filming a dispute between Manik and the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) on Wednesday.

The previous day municipality workers had removed banners put up by the IFM promoting a sermon by Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed, entitled ‘Entire Medina has dimmed’.

The MJA statement claims the organisation was informed by DhiTV that the journalist was “physically hurt” when attacked. The MJA called on police to investigate the case “and media to condemn the attack and protest against it.”

“The MJA believes Mr Manik has behaved in a very dirty manner, which we have seen from the politicians of primitive societies,” the MJA said.

Manik admitted confiscating the camera but denied attacking the cameraman.

“Cameramen are not allowed to film on government property without authorisation,” he said.

“The Islamic Foundation put banners on plants in Sultans Park. The garbage collectors have standing orders to clean up government property,” he explained.

“[The Islamic Foundation] didn’t come to complain – they came in a large gang. I was out at the time but when I came back I found them hassling staff and saw a DhiTV cameraman hiding under the stairs.”

Manik said he asked the cameraman to stop shooting and give up the camera, “which he did”, and then called police.

“They suggested I return the camera, but I asked them to be present when I returned it in case they tried to destroy it and [blame] me,” he said.

The MJA disputes that the cameraman was filming in an unauthorised area, “as he was filming outside the Municipality office, an area where filming is not forbidden.”

Manik observed that “the media is too occupied with making the news instead of reporting it’, and suggested that the truth would revealed when DhiTV ran the footage.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed police had attended the scene to observe the return of the camera to the cameraman.

“No one has reported that the camera man was injured and he has not made a complaint [himself],” Shiyam said. “So far no one has filed a case.”


Corpses being stacked as Male’ cemetery reaches capacity

The cemetery (Aa-sahara) in Male’ has reached capacity and Male’ municipality council has begun burying dead bodies on top of one another, by adding six feet of soil to the burial ground.

Islamic burial practices state that bodies must be buried six feet under the earth, and must not be stacked above other bodies – a logistical challenge for densely-populated Male’, where space is at a premium.

Head of Municipality Council Adam ‘Sarangu’ Manik said the council had no other choice because there was no other land in the city to bury dead bodies.

”We have to do it like this because every day one or two people need be buried there,” Adam explained.

”The soil was put on top of the graves and prepared by the former government,” he said. ”We have no other place to bury dead bodies, so we continued burying them there.”

State Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed reiterated that under Islam it was prohibited to bury dead bodies in this manner.

”It is allowed only if there is no other way,” Sheikh Shaheem said, noting ”it is not a must to only bury dead people in Male’ – there is space in Hulhumale and Villingili. We should take the dead bodies in a speed boat to Hulhumale’, Villingili or another nearby island,” he said.


”Expat or locals, both are human”: DRP calls on government to reopen water taps

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Nihan has called on the government to reopen the closed public water taps in Malé by the end of this week.

Deputy Head of Malé Municipality Mohamed Arif told Minivan News yesterday that all but four of the 19 taps closed because they were “mostly being used by expats [and] not Maldivians.”

The water taps cost the municipality Rf3.5 million (US$270,000) last year, he said.

Today, Nihan said many people were complaining that the municipality’s decision was causing them difficulty.

”Expat or locals, both are human,” he said. ”Water is a basic fundamental right for any human being.”

”We want the government to keep at least eight taps available,” Nihan said, ”so that two are available for each district.”

He said the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) standards would not allow a country to keep its public water taps closed.

Nihan said he did not want the water from the taps to be used for car washing or business purposes.

”We are ready to go out on the streets and protest on this issue,” he said. ”If they do not reopen the taps by this week we will come out to the streets and will even take the issue to parliament.”

Nihan said the party was waiting so as to give some time for the government to reverse the decision.

”This shows how incapable and unable the government is to run this country,” he said. “They cannot even manage the public water taps.”

Head of Male’ Municipality Adam Manik said the government “might or might not” reopen four more taps.

”We do not want to know what the DRP wants,” Adam said. ‘We understand what the people want, and so far nobody has complained [to us] that they are having difficulties.”

Adam said there would be enough water available from the four open taps, and that he did not wish to comment on the issue further.

MDP MP Alhan Fahmy also said he did not want to comment on the issue while spokesperson for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary group, Ahmed Shifaz did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


Closing public water taps “like drinking blood of the people”: Umar Naseer

Male’ Municipality has closed 14 public water taps across the city, leaving only four taps available.

Deputy Head of the Municipality Mohamed Arif said the taps were closed because the council had received many complaints about the taps, which were “not being used by Maldivians.”

”Most of the water is used by expats, for car washing and a very few poor locals,” Arif said. ”We have done surveys to check who has been using the water taps.”

Arif said the water taps cost the municipality Rf3.5 million (US$270,000) last year.

He said the water taps were established intending to help the poor locals who could not afford to pay the water bill.

”Our records show that only 10 per-cent of the people using the water taps were Maldivians,” he said.

”We receive many complaints from Ameer Ahmed School that people throw water at the students,” he said. ”We also have many complaints from people that they are having difficulties due to water spilt near the taps.”

Press Secretary for the president Mohamed Zuhair also said that the taps were used mainly by expats and for washing cars.

Vice president of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party DRP Umar Naseer said that he was concerned about the issue as “a lot of people are unable to afford their water bill.”

”That’s why they stay in the queue for hours, ” he said. ”Closing the water taps is like drinking the blood of the people.”

Most people could not afford to drink bottled mineral water all the time, he noted.


Municipality claims land illegally occupied by MDP Haruge

The Male’ Municipality has claimed the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has built a part of its ‘Haruge’ headquarters illegally on the municipality’s land, and informed the party to vacate within 14 days.

President of the Male’ Municipality Adam Manik said the MDP had taken part of the municipality’s land when it built its headquarters.

Adam said that was a part of the land on which the Housing Ministry planned to build flats.

”[MDP Chairperson] Mariya Didi built their office there unauthorised,” Adam claimed.

He said the council had now informed Didi to clear out the site within 14 days.

”It’s not the whole of the MDP Haruge,” he said. ”Its’s the part of the Haruge where they have the administration office.”

Spokesperson for MDP Ahmed Haleem said the party would clear the land within 14 days as requested. He said the land had been given to the MDP by the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce “as a gift.”

”We did not know that a part of the municipality’s land was occupied by us,” he said, adding that the party had not decided where to build its new administration office.

He said the land claimed by the municipality measured around 2000 square feet.