Amnesty International urges Maldives to investigate brutality at Anbaraa

Amnesty International has urged the Maldives to investigate allegations of police brutality during a raid on a music festival on Anbaraa Island in April.

Although police claimed they carried out the raid on suspicion of drug abuse, their actions on Anbaraa seems to have been focused on stopping the festival and forcing women to cover themselves up, said Amnesty.

The organisation highlighted claims of unnecessary force, arbitrary arrest of 79 festival goers on alleged possession and use of drugs, ill treatment of detainees in police custody and denial of rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

Festival participants told Amnesty that the police manhandled many of them, verbally abused them, threw them to the ground, and forced them to lie face down.

Police also ransacked and looted their belongings, said festival-goers. Some detainees were beaten up while other suffered sexual harassment, Amnesty was told.

The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) said it has not received any requests to investigate police brutality during the festival.

Police were not responding to calls at the time of press.

Arbitrary arrest

Of the 200 festivalgoers, police only arrested 79 – including 19 women and a 17-year-old girl. The rest were set free.

It was only in remand hearings that the detainees learned they had been taken into custody for the possession and use of drugs.

Contrary to police statements that all detainees had tested positive for drugs at the time of arrest, drug tests were only performed after the court hearings at the Dhoonidhoo detention center, Amnesty said.

“The police said they raided the Anbaraa festival because the participants were using drugs. However, the delay in carrying out drug tests, and the fact no one has been charged with any offence, raises concern that this was only a pretext.”

The raid occurred despite approval from the authorities including the Ministry of Tourism to hold the festival, Amnesty said.

“However, in the very early hours of 20 April, the police raided the island from the sea in full riot gear and masks, shot off flares and rubber bullets and rounded up festival goers,” Amnesty’s statement said.

The organisation reminded the Maldives Police Service that law enforcement officials shall “as far as possible apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms” as per UN basic principles number four on use of force and firearms.

Festivalgoers told Amnesty that officers beat them up when asked to explain why they were being arrested.

One participant told Amnesty that she was kicked hard in the back by a policeman for not putting her hands up when ordered to, because in a state of shock she did not know what she was supposed to do.

Police officers also used pepper spray without provocation, they said.

Sexual abuse

Female participants told Amnesty of sexual abuse and humiliation. Police officers allegedly told female detainees they would “shove their batons up them.”

Another woman recounted: “We were separated from the men and then the police draped the women, some of whom were wearing shorts and shirts, with material because they said we were not decent.”

“They also filmed us. They meant to humiliate us and refused to say why we had been arrested. We spent the night in handcuffs, with little water and no food until morning,” she continued.

Police action seems to have focused on forcing women to cover themselves up, Amnesty said.

“Although there are no laws banning music in the Maldives and Islamic dress is not mandatory, police action appears to have focused on stopping the music festival and forcing women wearing skirts and shirts to cover themselves,” the statement said.

The last of the three Maldivians in custody were transferred to house arrest on June 2. A Malaysian national is still at the Dhoonidhoo Detention Center, Amnesty said.

Amnesty International has called attention to the police’s frequent use of excessive force against demonstrators, especially in the aftermath of the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.

A previous version of this article incorrectly said five of the Anbaraa detainees are still in custody.

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President’s Office removes ‘socially unacceptable’ film awards pictures from website

The President’s Office has removed “socially unacceptable” pictures taken at Tuesday’s Maldives Film Awards from its website.

Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told Minivan News the pictures had been removed on Wednesday evening following local media and social media criticism of “pictures against social norms.”

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Defense Minister Ahmed Nazim attended the event held at the Olympus Theater in Malé. The ceremony was broadcast live on state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM).

“We felt these pictures should not be on the President’s Office website. They are against social norms,” Muaz said.

Muaz refused to provide further details on which pictures were removed. But Minivan News understands they were of female film stars in revealing clothes.

Some commentators criticized the photos on religious grounds, while others pointed to the administration’s “hypocritical” treatment of female detainees arrested from a music festival on Anbaraa Island and accused of wearing revealing clothing on April 18.

The women were wrapped in sarongs when they were presented at the Criminal Court for remand hearings.

Comparing the film awards and Anbaraa music festival, one Facebook commenter said: “When the girls wore shorts and danced at Anbaraa it became a problem. But its OK when adult women wear revealing clothes and when some dance infront of political leaders. Raid Olympus just as they raided Anbaraa. This is why I say how they do things do not make sense.”

One commenter on Channel News Maldives said they were saddened by President Yameen’s presence at the event, while another said: “Those who raised their voices and cried in the name of religion and nation are now speechless, their voices silenced, mute.”

Facebook user, Shifa Aishath, called for Home Minister Umar Naseer’s resignation: “Girls wearing shorts needed sarongs to cover them. What about the so-called celebrities? End discrimination! Umar resign!”

Political Analyst Azra Naseem said the treatment of the young people on Anbaraa Island “is a supreme example of the hypocrisy that defines Maldives.”

“It is one of the worst kept secrets of Maldivian politics that most of the Maldivian cabinet, and a substantial number of parliamentarians in the Majlis all drink alcohol and/or take recreational drugs. Several government Ministers not only drink but also facilitate parties and raves for young people they know. On the more sleazy side of things, several do so with the goal of getting sexual favours from young people in exchange for the illegal substances provided,” she said in a comment piece.

Referring to the Criminal Court’s stalling of a court case against MP Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam and state failure to investigate Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed’s alleged appearance in a series of sex tapes, Azra said: “And the hypocrisy of those meting out such punishment, while happily indulging in worse behaviour themselves, boggles the mind perhaps even more than some of the substances said to have been available at Anbaraa could have.”

In May 2013, the police detained a 16 year old girl in Malé for “dressing inappropriately.”

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Criminal Court releases 21 Anbaraa detainees

The Criminal Court has released 21 individuals arrested from a music festival on Anbaraa Island on alleged drug abuse.

Only 13 of the 79 initially detained are now in custody.

The Maldives Police Services had also released 44 individuals on Tuesday.

Detainees have accused the police of brutality during arrests including the use of batons and rubber bullets.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said constitutional rights and human rights procedures were violated during the police raid.

However, the police have denied accusations claiming all detainees were informed of their constitutional rights, informed of the reason for their arrest and brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. Police also noted the raid was carried out under a court warrant.

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Police release 44 arrested from Anbaara

Police have confirmed the release of 44 individuals arrested from Anbaraa Island during a raid on a music festival on April 18.

A total of 79 suspects were taken into police custody from the island of Anbaraa in Vaavu atoll, all of whom were suspected of being under the influence of drugs, or had drugs on their person, according to police. On Tuesday (April 22) 19 women were transferred to house arrest.

After release of 44 individuals last night, there are currently 32 men still in police custody.

“We have 32 males [under arrest] , those who were in house arrest they are also released except for three,” confirmed a Police spokesperson.

“The investigation is completed now – so today some might be relsead, and some might be taken to court for extended custody,” the spokesperson added.

The Drug Enforcement Department, Specialist Operations, police intelligence department, and the forensic department conducted the operation, Satheeh told  Minivan News previously.

Upon searching the island as well as the 198 partygoers, Satheeh said police discovered different types of drugs and more than MVR90,000 (US$5,836) in cash.

In addition to beer cans, the drugs confiscated from the island included pills, LSD stickers, and hash oil joints as well as rubber packets, cellophane packets, and film canisters containing cannabis, Satheeh said.

However, the raid of the island and subsequent arrests have been an issue of contention, with some arguing that the Police’s actions were a breach of human rights.

In a recent article published on Minivan News, Mushfique Mohamed contended that the arrests at Anbaraa underpinned by a political and constitutional motive, with police using the arrests as a means of “garnering support along ultra-nationalist and Islamist lines.”

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has denied allegations by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that constitutional rights and procedures were violated in the arrest of 79 youth last weekend from a music festival in an uninhabited island.

In a press release issued in response to a statement yesterday by the MDP’s rights committee, police insisted that all the suspects taken into custody from Vaavu Anbaraa were informed of their constitutional rights as well as the reason for the arrest.

“In addition, they were informed in writing of the reason for their detention in accordance with the law, and they were told that they had the right to legal counsel,” the press release read.

It added that all suspects detained from Anbaraa were brought before a judge within 24 hours of the arrest. Police also noted that the island was raided with a court order.

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Comment: Operation Anbaraa

This article first appeared on Dhivehi Sitee. Republished with permission.

A lot has been written about the music festival on the desert island of Anbaraa attended by local and international DJs, some tourists and 198 partygoers. According to the event organisers, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb and certain officials of the Yameen government allegedly approved the event in an unofficial capacity. Most of what has been said in the Dhivehi media is framed to make it appear that these young people at the music festival were engaging in an orgy of illicit activities on the island, and that the authorities acted rightly by raiding the event and arresting one female minor, 19 women and 59 men present at the festival.

Unfortunately, the susceptible majority of the Maldivian public do not see the political and unconstitutional underpinnings of these arrests, and most often than not, wholeheartedly accept such narratives. This proves beneficial for certain politicians in the Maldives, known for garnering support along ultra-nationalist and Islamist lines, as the Anbaraa incident provides an opportunity to generate just such rhetoric. Their understanding is that the youth are to be blamed for testing the limits of an increasingly conservative society. The awful truth is that people in positions of power indulging in similar behaviour, and much worse, are not subject to the same laws.

The Maldives Police Service claims it raided the island around midnight on Friday night. Detainees have described the operation as a hypocritical, aggressive and excessive display of brute force and psychological warfare. Many of the detainees claim the police used stun guns, grenades, tasers, taser guns, batons, guns and rubber bullets during this operation. Initially flares were shot and the authorities used amplifiers to announce – “you will all be killed if you don’t calm down” while charging at the partygoers. “They shot stun grenades at the centre of the dance floor in front of the main stage”, one of the detainees said. “Rubber bullets were shot in the air and a lot of people were tased with tasers and taser guns,” he continued.

Many detainees said they were all verbally abused and humiliated. Talking of the religious and cultural undertones of this operation, one female detainee said an officer yelled at her, “Are you a European?” A male detainee alleged that two officers grabbed him by the neck and called him an infidel. Another female detainee claimed she was pulled by the hair and ear, and hit on the back. Some of the male partygoers intervened when police resorted to sexualised violence against women – these men are now being detained separately from other detainees, although not in solitary confinement. Some detainees allege they were beaten and showed visible scars. Many detainees note disturbing police actions such as some officers allegedly stealing detainees’ belongings and, in the presence of some detainees, consuming illicit substances found on the island.

After the island came under police control, the detainees were rounded up and brought to the main stage. They were cuffed using plastic clips and kept kneeling down. The island did not have enough water and the Maldives Police Service did not bring any food or water with them for the detainees. When the detainees asked for water it was not provided to all, and some were humiliated for requesting for water. At this point, detainees were allegedly asked to go to sleep. On Saturday morning around 6-7am the police allegedly ordered the catering service to provide food for 198 detainees while the island was under police control. Even at this time, the Maldives’ police did not facilitate rights afforded to those accused or detained under Article 48 of the Constitution. Although police claim that the detainees were informed of their rights, the fact that these men and women were kept incommunicado for about 14 hours proves that the authorities failed to facilitate their inalienable fundamental rights to acquire legal counsel or information regarding the arrest.

Another factor that deviates from standard police practice in such cases is that, according to the detainees, belongings and persons on the island were searched on Saturday afternoon, and none of this was done in the detainees’ presence. Most detainees claim their tents were searched or dismantled while they were handcuffed. And, they claim, not only were their belongings rummaged but articles of clothing and money went missing after the police went through them. Article 161 of the 2011 Drugs Act requires police to split urine samples into two — one sample is to be tested by the Maldives Police Service while the other is to be tested by an institution stipulated by the National Drug Agency. This procedure was not followed, nor were the urine samples collected or processed according to the Urine Specimen Collection, Transportation and Testing for Illicit Drugs Regulation 2012, meaning that many detainees’ urine samples were taken after their remand hearings. Another irregularity is one that contravenes the Judicature Act – detainees were brought to the Criminal Court in Malé even though the alleged offences occurred in Vaavu Atoll. According to the male detainees, only female detainees were given lifejackets while they were being transferred to Dhoonidhoo Custodial Centre from Anbaraa.

During the remand hearings the police claimed that 119 people present at the island were released because they did not find any illicit substances on their person or belongings. This argument does not make sense as the police claimed that the entire island was a crime scene. The argument is further weakened by the fact that some of the detainees currently in custody did not have any illicit substances on their person and only have urine tests as evidence against them. Such contradictions in the claims made by the police suggest that the 119 were released because the police would not have been able to process all detainees within the specified time limit. Law requires all detainees to be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest.

These events are reminiscent of infighting among cabinet ministers during ex-dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s regime, which then spills over into the public sphere. If the Yameen government – even if in an unofficial capacity – gave assurances to the organisers of the music festival that it could go ahead, why has the Home Minister Umar Naseer vocally reacted to this incident as if to say the police were working under his orders? The feud between the current president Abdullah Yameen Abdul Gayoom; half brother of ex-dictator and Umar Naseer; the current Home Minister, has been at the forefront since the onset of the presidential election campaign in early 2013.

Some of the detainees are also of the impression that the government may have raided the event to create a distraction from the arbitration proceedings being held at the Singapore Court of Appeal regarding the cancellation of the GMR agreement during the coup appointed presidency of Dr. Mohamed Waheed, which ended in December 2013. In early 2010, the Indian infrastructure company GMR was contracted to build Ibrahim Nasir International Airport by the Mohamed Nasheed administration, which was toppled by his deputy Dr. Waheed and Gayoom loyalists. If the infrastructure giant GMR wins the arbitration case, the Maldives’ government will be subject to approximately US$1.4 billion in compensation.

All these factors create the public perception that current government is not fully in control of the security forces due to infighting, or that the security forces can be mobilised by the current government to carry out politically motivated attacks that have very little to do with morality, crime prevention, implementing the law, or protecting the youth from illegal drugs. Neither perception creates trust or confidence towards the current regime in power, but both highlight the human rights abuse and inconsistency of the implementation of law in the Maldives.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]

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“The authorities arrived in a wave of terror”, says eyewitnesses of Anbaraa arrests

Physical abuse, verbal harassment, and the excessive use of weapons have been reported by some of those detained following the police raids on the Anbaraa music festival last weekend.

“They used a lot of weapons- stun grenades and tazers, pretty excessive force when you’re raiding,” a reliable source told Minivan News.

Other attendees suggested police had threatened both physical torture and sexual violence. All Maldivian nationals interviewed for this article chose to remain anonymous.

Festival attendee Brandon Ingram – a Sri Lankan national – described the authorities as arriving “in a wave of terror, shooting their guns and shouting their violence in Dhivehi.”

The two day music festival – attended by 198 people,  including international DJs – was raided by police at 12:00am on Saturday (April 19), with the aim of shutting down the event.

A total of 79 people were arrested from the uninhabited island in Vaavu atoll, 19 of whom have been released to house arrest, while the remaining are being held at the Dhoonidhoo detention facility.

“They shot flares and one of them [an eyewitness] told me stun grenades were shot in centre of dance floor. Stun grenades are meant for dispersing large crowds – they shouldn’t be shooting at people,” stated an authority investigating the case.

Ingram’s recently published testimony of the raid describes gunfire and lasers, associated with stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Another person present at the festival alleged that, once they were handcuffed, police refused to give them water, had tightened the cuffs when they complained of swollen wrists, and refused to let them go to the toilet.

After a body search at around 1am, the police changed the cuffs to the front and the detainees fell asleep leaning on one another.

The tents and belongings were checked at around midday the following day, the source continued. The cuffs were only taken off after they had picked the 79 to be arrested – meaning they were handcuffed for 13 to 14 hours.

Verbal Abuse

In addition, many of the detainees have stated that police verbally threatened them. One attendee alleged that police told people, “if they didn’t calm down they would all be killed.”

“[Police] verbally abused all of them, harassed them, some of the girls – especially the girls – I heard a lot, one of them [police] said they were going to shove their batons up them.”

“One girl resisting arrest, they hit her from behind and manhandled her, another girl they pulled by the hair and shoved into the sand. It was mostly toward people who were resisting arrest,” stated a source who is investigating the arrests.

According to another eyewitness at the festival, while they were lying on the ground, one girl reportedly heard a policeman say, “why don’t we pour petrol on them and set them on fire, who’d know?”.

Additionally, Ingram recalled the “those authoritative looks of accomplishment and farcical displays of power.”

“They said to us, with conviction, ‘heroine, yea, that’s whatever… but alcohol and LSD, very dangerous.’ They pointed at the girls who were in shorts and tank tops and said: ‘these girls are naked in public, that is against law.'”

“They went on to say – ‘on resort anyone can do whatever they want, on normal island, you cannot.’ They also said – ‘Maldivian boys and girls want to have fun, they can go to other countries, other places, not here’.”

However, Ingram’s account claimed that the treatment by the police was not malevolent.

“They were not unkind to us – in fact they were almost as nice as our Maldivian friends,” he observed.

Drug tests

After the raid, police confirmed with the media that out of the 198 searched, the 79 arrested either tested positive for drugs, or had drugs in their possession.

Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh noted at a press briefing that the 79 persons taken into custody were arrested either with drugs in their possession or police suspected they were under the influence of drugs.

While the remaining 119 were released without charge, Satheeh revealed that none of them had been tested for drug use.

“The people who were let go were supposedly the people who they didn’t find anything on them. The urine test were taken much later,” confirmed a source investigating the arrests.

At the time of the arrests, the only tests the police carried out were a breathalyser test, with only two people testing positive for this, they continued.

Contrary to police reports, “they didn’t do urine tests for everyone,” revealed the source, adding that this was a key point that could stand in the detainees favour.

The Police Integrity Commission declined to comment on the events when contacted by Minivan News today, saying they were not yet investigating the case.

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Comment: Maldives – The Hypocrites’ paradise

This article first appeared on Dhivehi Sitee. Republished with permission.

More than half of the Maldivian population is under the age of 25 and, with over a third of the population aged between 18-35, the Maldives has one of the most youthful populations in the world. This weekend around 200 of them assembled on the desert island of Anbaraa for an overnight music festival.

All elements that any reasonable person expects at a modern event of the sort were present—great DJs, young people up for a good time and, unsurprisingly, party drugs. On Friday night, when most revelers were at the peak of their enjoyment, a Maldives Police Service (MPS) team in riot gear raided the island. Apparently they were in possession of an arrest warrant, issued by one of many farcical courts that comprise the so-called judiciary.

The MPS asked no one’s permission to get on the island, respected no laws, followed no due procedure. Police statements have made it clear they were aware of the plans for the music festival, and also that it would take the form of a rave. They made no move to stop it from going ahead. When they raided the island on Friday night, they were fully aware of what they would find — a bunch of young people in a highly vulnerable state — and proceeded to assert their supremacy on them as aggressively as possible.

The MPS could not have acted more triumphantly if they had managed to bust the world’s biggest drug cartel. According to eye-witness accounts, they threw smoke grenades onto the unsuspecting revelers, barged into their tents without permission, searched their personal possessions without their knowledge, and handcuffed everyone deemed ‘guilty’ before holding them in custody for 14 hours without the right to counsel.

Once they had been humiliated, and by some accounts several beaten up in custody, it was time to turn the whole affair into a media circus. Pictures of various partygoers were splashed across computer and television ‘news’ screens as if they were members of a newly busted paedophile gang deserving the most forceful of today’s naming and shaming techniques.

The worst of the humiliation was reserved for the women, as can be expected of the misogynistic society the Maldives has become today. First came the reports across the entire media spectrum—from the mainstream to the most obscure—that several of the women had been found ‘naked’, ‘nude’, ‘everything bared’, etc. Pictures of laughing policewomen in headscarves marching the young female partygoers in handcuffs and sarongs appeared on all print and online newspapers.

As it turned out, all reports the women were naked were total lies, engineered to belittle and humiliate ‘the weaker sex’ as much as possible. The women were made to wear sarongs to court — not to cover their nudity, but to cover up the lie that none of them were naked. Wearing shorts, apparently, is now tantamount to being naked in the tropical island ‘paradise’.

The treatment of these young people is a supreme example of the hypocrisy that defines modern Maldives. It is one of the worst kept secrets of Maldivian politics that most of the Maldivian cabinet, and a substantial number of parliamentarians in the Majlis all drink alcohol and/or take recreational drugs. Several government Ministers not only drink but also facilitate parties and raves for young people they know. On the more sleazy side of things, several do so with the goal of getting sexual favours from young people in exchange for the illegal substances provided.

Quite apart from the disgusting hypocrisy of those in power, and separate from the widespread heroin addiction that has afflicted an entire generation of Maldivian youth since the 1990s, it is also a fact that social drinking and indulging in recreational drugs are common among young Maldivians, especially in the capital Malé. In recent years the use of party drugs such as ecstasy, and even more recently LSD too, have increased as it has in most cities across the world.

Meanwhile, in a country where alcohol is only meant to be available to tourists who holiday in the exclusive resort islands, it is commonplace for copious amounts of alcohol to be sold and bought in and around Malé every weekend. Government officials—and police—are fully aware of this. Many, in fact, have a share in the profits, which are invariably huge. Young people who want a drink are forced to pool their resources and shell out as much as MVR2000 approximately  (US$130) for a bottle of alcohol, regardless of its make, size or contents. Where else do the bottles come from except tourism industry tycoons with a license to import them?

Today several of these tycoons are also running the government and the country. To pretend they are unaware of how much their profits are pumped up from selling alcohol to young Maldivians is a sham that any thinking person can see right through. Yet they keep up the façade so that a) they can keep making profits, and b) continue claiming that such things do not happen in a ‘100 percent Muslim country’ like the Maldives.

Fact of the matter is, Muslim or not, drinking alcohol and taking recreational drugs are as normal among a large section of the Maldivian population as it is in any other 21st century society in the world.  To believe that what happens in the rest of the globalised world does not happen in the Maldives is the height of idiocy. Being such a small country with deliberately weakened cultural and historical roots has made us more, rather than less, vulnerable to global influences than most other countries. Nowhere is this more evident than in the number of Maldivian youth who have found themselves bending to the radical Islamist winds that have swept across the globe since the beginning of the century.

If we are to be honest, we have to admit that the big black burugas that so many Maldivian women have come to wear in the past decade have as little affinity with our culture and religious practises as the hot pants the women at the rave were wearing – yet the former is not just embraced but almost forced upon everyone as ‘the right thing’ while the other is criticised as ‘alien’ and even criminal.

Yes, the use of drugs are against the law. But since man began to live in societies, there has been no place on earth where youth have not bent the law for their fun and enjoyment. Their infringements—if they cause no harm to society as a whole—need to be dealt with concern and understanding, not handcuffs, brutality, and long sentences. Drug laws are meant to punish traffickers and dealers and to stop dangerous substances from becoming a menace to users and society.

Young people at a rave on a desert island, whether tripping or not, poses no threat to society whatsoever. To treat the Anbaraa revelers as criminals, to set out to publicly shame them, and to punish them with imprisonment demonstrate nothing but intolerance and ignorance. And the hypocrisy of those meting out such punishmentwhile happily indulging in worse behaviour themselves, boggles the mind perhaps even more than some of the substances said to have been available at Anbaraa could have.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]

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PPM condemns suggestions that tourism minister plotted festival arrests

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has condemned former President Mohamed Nasheed’s criticism of the government and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb regarding the Anbaraa music festival arrests, calling on the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to act more responsibly.

Speaking at a radio show on opposition aligned  97 Minivan Radio yesterday, Nasheed said that the police arrest of 79 people from the two-day music festival on Anbaraa Island was a pre-planned and politically motivated act to suppress the youth.

Nasheed went onto suggest that Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb was behind it.

Denying the allegations, the PPM condemned Nasheed’s comments, describing them as an “uncivilised” attempt to sabotage the implementation of PPM’s youth manifesto as well as the other youth development efforts of the government.

“The young tourism minister is a person who works very hard at national and international levels to bring development to country, without giving any regard to political ideologies,” read the statement.

“This party does not believe Ahmed Adeeb who is also the vice president of the party would do any favors to anyone for his political or personal advantage, or do anything that could harm anyone.”

In the press release, the PPM called on Nasheed to put an end to “the politically motivated defamatory remarks” against the current Maldivian government, PPM and the VP of the party Adeeb.

Nasheed alleged that Adeeb had purposefully put a large number of people into the same place in order to arrest them.

“President Yameen, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and their partners are once again working to oppress and suppress the youth, and to rule for a life time as they want by keeping them [the youth] from speaking out. This is a political plot,” Nasheed told 97 Minivan.

Recalling an incident from 1979 when then-President Gayoom arrested a large group of youth before allegedly torturing them, Nasheed suggested that the youth did not open their mouths to talk about it until Gayoom’s 30 year administration was over.

He subsequently called upon people to come out in defense of the youth, and warned that failure to do so would result in more hardships in the future.

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All 79 suspects arrested from Anbaraa festival tested positive for drugs, police reveal

All 79 suspects taken into police custody from the island of Anbaraa in Vaavu atoll tested positive for drugs, police have revealed.

Briefing the press today, Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh explained that police received intelligence information suggesting that alcohol and drugs were being used and sold at the two-day music festival held on the uninhabited island.

Police raided the island with a court order at midnight on Friday night (April 18), he noted.

The Drug Enforcement Department, Specialist Operations, police intelligence department, and the forensic department conducted the operation, Satheeh said.

Upon searching the island as well as the 198 partygoers, Satheeh said police discovered different types of drugs and more than MVR90,000 (US$5,836) in cash.

In addition to beer cans, the drugs confiscated from the island included pills, LSD stickers, and hash oil joints as well as rubber packets, cellophane packets, and film canisters containing cannabis, Satheeh said.

The drugs, beer cans, and cash were displayed in a video presentation at the press briefing.

While all 198 persons on the island were held and searched, the chief inspector noted that the 79 individuals were arrested after drugs were found either in their possession or at the scene.

Police revealed earlier that the 79 suspects included one female minor, 19 women and 59 men, including one foreign male.

While the remaining 119 were released without charge, Satheeh revealed that none of them were tested for drug use.

Arrangements were not in place to conduct drug tests on the island, he added.

The 79 persons taken into custody were arrested either with drugs in their possession or because police suspected they were under the influence of drugs, Satheeh noted.

Contrary to media reports claiming that a number of people were naked, Satheeh said individuals of both genders were “wearing revealing clothing” when police raided the island.

Asked about the organisers of the festival and lease holder of the uninhabited island, Satheeh said he could not disclose further details as the initial stage of the investigation.

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