MDP member of parliament and parliamentary whip Ilyas Labeeb appealed to police to protect the constitution, refuse to follow unconstitutional orders, and to learn from the action of the senior MNDF officers who recently sent a “letter of concern” to Chief of Defence Force about the matter.
Ilyas Labeeb delivered his speech from the campaign truck kept on Fareedhee Magu in the middle of the crowd, facing the police standing behind barricades.
Just as Labeeb began addressing the crowd, police lit up floodlights to spotlight the MP.
“Shining that light in our faces, or implying we are marked for arrest, does not intimidate me. Violently taking MP Ali Azim into your custody does not intimidate me. Even if you come and take me away now, that still won’t scare me. I will come back here and speak out as soon as I am freed again. We are asking for elections, for our constitutional right,” Labeeb said.
“Aren’t you ashamed to be bowing down to unconstitutional orders? Nineteen MNDF officers have sent a letter against the following of constitutional orders, against the politicisation of the security forces. The MNDF is more senior than the police force. Listen to them, learn from them. Give it up now. Your stand on February 7 was that you were demonstrating against unconstitutional orders. What are you doing today?”
“We are standing up for the constitutional rights we are entitled to, for our sake, for the sake of our families, yes, but equally for the future of you and your families. Start protecting the constitution, police, that is in the best interests of the nation.”
Ilyas Labeeb ended his speech by leading the crowd in chanting “Where’s my vote? You stole my vote”, “Election now” and “Forward, forward, swiftly forward”.
By this time, just over a dozen regular police officers formed a line of obstruction behind the barricades, facing the protesters.
Labeeb moved to the frontline of the protest and appealed to the police again, this time speaking directly to them without the aid of a microphone or making it a public speech.
“You boys must think deeply. Why are you following unconstitutional orders? Neither the Police Act nor the Constitution mandates you to do so, in fact it is clearly stated that you must not follow an unconstitutional order,” he said.
“Don’t you realise what they are doing? They send you out here against hundreds and thousands of citizens, you come with your name tags and in simple regular uniform, and you face scorn from the people. Yet it isn’t you, but the Special Operations who hide behind their masks and helmets who run into crowds and brutalise citizens. They are using you young boys as a shield to hide behind. You don’t have to be slaves to the SO officers or the Commissioner of Police,” Labeeb continued.
“Look at [Commissioner of Police] Abdulla Riyaz. He’s hiding in his rooms after sending you all here. He has secured an apartment abroad, planning to run away as soon as the government changes. All the leading people who were part of the coup have. They won’t think of you then. What will happen to you boys if you continue following unconstitutional orders?”
“Remember all that talk about housing flats for the police? Do you know who took the first flat? Abdulla Riyaz. It was meant for regular officers like you, but he took one for himself first. Is this how you want things to be? Are you still going to stay back quietly and let things proceed like this?”
“I know that as you are all listening to this speech of mine now, your seniors will take you in for a chat later tonight. But they are not the ones you should be believing, nor should you believe me. Instead, read for yourselves what is in the Police Act and the constitution. If you need assistance, we can arrange lawyers for you; not lawyers affiliated with MDP but other experienced lawyers.”
“Regardless of how long it takes to get back our right to vote, we will continue demanding it. And when the elections are on, we will beat them with votes. We will win the elections.”
MP went back into the crowds after concluding his monologue to the line of officers.
Monday – the fourth consecutive day of protests – saw protesters grow from a few hundred to just over a thousand by around 10:00pm.
Crowds later thinned out once the SO officers came to the area after protesters moved, and later hid the police barricades at the protest site.
Minivan News observed teams of SO officers run into the crowds twice and make two arrests – one of whom was a man who had previously crossed the police line set out by the regular police officers, referred to as ‘Blues’.
The SO later drove six times to and fro through the protest area in one of their trucks after crowds had thinned out, locating a barricade hidden in a construction site on Fareedhee Magu and sending regular officers to retrieve it.
“Targeting MDP MPs as an intimidation tactic”: MP Alhan Fahmy
Meanwhile, police have been arresting and summoning MDP parliamentary group members in relation to various cases in the past few days after the party started direct action asking for immediate elections.
MP Alhan Fahmy, who was summoned to police headquarters for questioning at 2:00pm on Tuesday described the events as “intimidation tactics being used by the police. They [the government] are using multiple state institutions in their actions of undermining the constitution and its powers”.
Fahmy said that the police had accused him of threatening Supreme Court judges and their families at a protest held on September 26.
“I told them I have done no such thing, that I never called for attacks or threatened any of these judges they speak of or their families. That all I said at the rally was my perspective on the current judges sitting on the SC bench. I told them that I had spoken of a video clip showing indecent behaviour that police has said Ali Hameed has been seen in, and that if so I believe Ali Hameed should no longer be sitting on the bench,” Fahmy told Minivan News today.
MDP International Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor was also taken into police custody on Monday afternoon, allegedly for not accepting court summons. He has been transferred to house arrest today after the first hearing of the case.
Ghafoor’s lawyer, Fareesha Abdulla O’Shea, however claims that due process was not followed when delivering the court summons.
She said that the case is being presided over by Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
“The case is about Hamid’s refusal to give a urine sample and he is being charged under section 123 of the Drug Act. I advised not to enter a plea as we haven’t received any of the related documents or information from the court yet,” O’Shea said.
“Today, after the hearing, Hamid was issued another summons relating to charges levied for possession of alcohol,” she stated.
MP Ali Azim was arrested from the protests on Sunday night, with SO officers pulling him off the campaign truck, throwing him onto the ground and dragging him away into custody. He was brought to a court hearing on Monday, where the courts added a seven day extension to his detention on account of him being “a threat to national security”.
Azim attended a meeting of the Parliament’s Privileges Committee after his hearing yesterday, where he alleged that he had been ill-treated even after arrest.
“The SO officer on my right side tried very hard to break my finger, I have photos to prove this. Upon being pushed into the van, one of the officers grabbed hold of my groin area very hard,” Azim told the committee.
“They also asked me to provide a urine sample, but I didn’t because my lawyer advised me against it as the charges levied against me did not allow police to make such a request. I was also handcuffed on the trip from Dhoonidhoo to the court in Male’, and on the way to this parliamentary meeting,” he added.
DRP MP ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed was also arrested at protests and later released, while MP Ibrahim Rasheed is being investigated for allegedly assaulting police.
MP Eva Abdulla has also been arrested at protests on Tuesday.