Summary: Testimony of former police chief superintendent to Government Oversight Committee

In January 2013, parliament’s Government Oversight Committee heard testimony from six of the highest-ranking officers of the police and military for its review of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CoNI’s) report into the transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012. Minutes of the closed-door sessions (Dhivehi) along with audio recordings were made public on January 16, 2013.

Following is a translated summary of the testimony from former Chief Superintendent of Police Mohamed Jinah to the oversight committee on January 11, 2013. Jinah, then head of the Drug Enforcement Department (DED), was sacked from the police service two days later.

On the night of February 6, 2012, Jinah arrived at the police headquarters around 10:30pm. As he was due to leave the country for medical purposes the following night, Jinah went to finalise administrative matters concerning his leave of absence.

Jinah went up to the executive room on the fifth floor to find Chief Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed, who was then head of police intelligence. Hameed was there with other intelligence officers monitoring live CCTV footage from the artificial beach.

Jinah saw opposition protesters and ruling party supporters facing off and throwing rocks at each other. Hameed was upset with the withdrawal of riot police.

Jinah stepped out to the foyer and met Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh. The commissioner informed him that President Mohamed Nasheed had ordered the Specialist Operations (SO) officers to be withdrawn. Jinah told the commissioner that “something big” must have happened for the president to issue such a command.

Hearing a loud commotion, Jinah went downstairs and saw SO officers filing into Republic Square. They were shouting and gathering at the helipad area.

Jinah began working with intelligence chief Hameed to find out what was happening. They soon learned that rogue SO officers had assaulted government supporters at the artificial beach and ransacked the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP’s) Haruge (meeting hall).

Upon learning that the military was preparing to arrest the rogue police officers, Jinah warned the police deputy commissioners of dire consequences should a violent confrontation occur between the security services. Jinah advised approaching the protesting police “professionally and wisely” to negotiate. However, none of the senior officers had command and control at the time and Commissioner Faseeh was inside military headquarters.

Jinah saw soldiers form ranks and prepare to charge only to withdraw every time, appearing reluctant to confront the mutinying police. “I did not fully believe even then that the soldiers didn’t know how or were unable to do it.”

At 7:30am, Jinah and Hameed called Faseeh and attempted to arrange a meeting with the SO commanders at the commissioner’s office. A senior SO officer named Ahmed Abdul Rahman was to be present as a witness.

While the communications were ongoing, Jinah heard clashes erupt at the Republic Square and saw from the foyer window tear gas canisters being thrown. The mutinying police clashed with soldiers. During the confrontation, some soldiers joined the mutiny.

Jinah and Hameed were at the conference room when they heard loud clamouring from inside the headquarters. When they stepped outside, Jinah saw a group of officers holding back the door to the (executive) officer’s block.

“They were blocking the door and said [the mutinying officers] were coming threatening to kill.” The junior officers vowed that the mutinying police would have to kill them to enter the conference room.

“I said, ‘you don’t have to die. They don’t have to die either. What is this talk of dying? Open the door.’ Then when I asked a bit angrily they opened the door.”

Mutinying officers outside were claiming that MDP activists had killed a police officer and set fire to several buildings. Jinah learned later that none of the claims were true. But at the time an officer was crying and claiming that an iron rod was shoved into the victim’s neck.

“The way he said it a police officer was speared like a fish. So the boys gathered there were enraged.”

A group of SO officers then forcibly dragged Jinah and Hameed away, shoving and beating the senior officers. Jinah noticed that a junior officer named Shifau appeared to be in charge. Shifau had “a closet full of disciplinary records.”

Shifau grabbed him by the cuff and complained about a disciplinary committee hearing where he was questioned by Jinah. Another group of police arrived and drew the pair apart. Jinah and Hameed were kept aside for about 45 minutes.

They heard groups of mutinying officers armed with iron rods calling for Faseeh and other senior officers, threatening to kill. One group found Jinah and Hameed and dragged them away, pushing and shoving. Hameed however managed to escape and ran to the fourth floor.

Jinah also wriggled free and hurried to his office on the third floor. Jinah saw that the drug storage “strong room” next to his office was open and its lock destroyed. All the illegal narcotics seized by police were stored there.

“The door was smashed. So in truth the place where the drugs were stored was on sale that day. The place was open for anyone to enter and take anything they want.”

“Then I ran inside my office and was locking some documents and personal belongings inside a drawer when they came and broke down the door.”

The harddisk on Jinah’s computer along with some confidential case files have since not been recovered.

The mutinying officers shoved and pushed Jinah down the stairs. He was taken inside the Gaazee building and kept there for about an hour, after which Shifau and two other officers came with handcuffs.

“They said my hands will be cuffed behind the back. I said you can’t do it behind. You should kill me if you want cuff my hands behind my back.”

The mutinying officers discussed amongst themselves and said OK. They cuffed Jinah’s hands in front and led him outside, all the while shoving and beating him with their boots.

A group of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) activists joined the mutinying officers escorting Jinah. Both the civilian group and mutinying officers called for Jinah to be mobbed and lynched.

However, another group of civilians and police officers, which included Jinah’s friends and relatives, ran over and surrounded him. They protected Jinah and put him on a speedboat to the police detention island of Dhoonidhoo.

At Dhoonidhoo, Jinah noted that the officers on duty there were not involved in the mutiny. They took off his handcuffs. The officer-in-charge, Staff Sergeant Mujthaba Zahir, informed Jinah that a junior officer named Azeem Waheed called and said Jinah was on the way.

Shortly thereafter, inmates at the detention center broke out of their cells. They included dangerous criminals arrested by Jinah.

Jinah was protected by officers on duty. A group of SO officers soon arrived to quell the inmate uprising. Jinah found out that SO officers had come to Dhoonidhoo after midnight, broken into the armoury and taken away all the weapons.

Jinah called then-Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed. Jinah had worked closely with Waheed as the vice-president was in charge of the previous administration’s pledge to combat drug trafficking and abuse. But Waheed did not answer. He sent a text message to Waheed’s secretary and was told that the president-in-waiting would attend to Jinah’s predicament.

“He hasn’t attended to it yet. Next February it will be one year to February 7.”

Jinah learned from the Dhoonidhoo staff that current Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz ‘FA’ were in charge of police. He called the pair. Riyaz claimed he did not know anything about Jinah’s arrest and hung up the phone. Fayaz said the same and asked Jinah what he was doing in Dhoonidhoo.

Jinah then called Faseeh and asked him to get Superintendent Abdulla Fairoosh, who had taken over as acting commissioner, to send a speedboat to Dhoonidhoo. But Faseeh said he was in the process of resigning.

“In any case, I managed to get a launch after a lot of work. I got the launch and left on it. I went and stayed at HIH [Hulhule’ Island Hotel]. From there I flew overseas that night.”

Jinah learned later that President Nasheed knew of his arrest before his resignation.

“Arresting officers of the security forces is one element of a coup d’etat. We were the responsible officers of the [security] service at the time. I believe taking away our powers and arresting us was one of the first acts of the mutiny. So they did that.

“I believe that I definitely would not have been able to return alive and safely to my family if President Nasheed did not resign. I was under arrest and in their custody at the time. Therefore, I believe that President Nasheed resigned under duress to save me and others in my situation as well as to save the lives of everyone else who could have been harmed.”

Jinah observed that mutiny or rebellion against the government by the security forces was “an element of Third World countries.”

The mutinying police and army officers on February 7 “took upon themselves the label of a Third World country on their own.”

At CoNI, Jinah was asked mostly about the arrest of Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed in January 2012. Apart from asking Jinah to recount his experience of February 7, the commission members did not ask questions regarding the events that immediately preceded the transfer of power.

“I basically do not accept the [CoNI] report at all. The reason is because I recounted what happened to me. There are photos and videos of me in handcuffs being beaten and dragged. However, the [CoNI] timeline stated that I was arrested for my own security and protection. So how can I accept the CoNI report? I can never accept that report.”

(Read summaries of the testimony from former police intelligence chief Mohamed ‘MC’ HameedBrigadier General Ahmed Nilam and Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh).


Summary: Testimony of former police intelligence chief to Government Oversight Committee

In January 2013, parliament’s Government Oversight Committee heard testimony from six of the highest-ranking officers of the police and military for its review of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CoNI’s) report into the transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012. Minutes of the closed-door sessions (Dhivehi) along with audio recordings were made public on January 16, 2013.

Following is a translated summary of the testimony from former head of police intelligence Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed to the oversight committee on January 9, 2013. Hameed was fired in August 2012 by the police disciplinary board over allegations of leaking confidential information. He has since sued the police for unlawful termination.

Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed joined the Maldives Police Service (MPS) on April 8, 1995. He was appointed head of the police intelligence department on January 17, 2010 following completion of a state-sponsored Masters degree in policing, intelligence and counterterrorism from the University of Sydney, Australia.

“I attended CoNI on April 15, 2012 and in addition I also attended the reconstituted CoNI. I believe it is because they did not consider what I said there to have much weight that important points from my two statements to CoNI were not highlighted in the report. The reason I am saying this is because what happened on February 6, 7 – I am not a legal expert but I have worked in the police profession for a very long time – I believe what happened with the police those two days should not have been seen from those belonging to a professional police service.”

Hameed believed that elements of the police mutinied on February 6 and 7. The CoNI report however did not highlight police misconduct, alleged brutality and disobedience that he “emphasised” at the commission.

When the new administration took office in November 2008, MPS did not have “a professional intelligence setup.” The previous intelligence department, known as Omega Sector, was referred among police as the “black room”. It was headed by current Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz.

Police intelligence was focused on the political opposition to the then-government and did not provide much assistance or cooperation for routine policing. Hameed’s “main purpose” as the new head of police intelligence in 2010 was “setting up an intelligence mechanism needed for policing or law enforcement.”

At CoNI, Hameed was asked why police intelligence had not learned of a plot to overthrow the government if the events of February 6 and 7 were orchestrated and planned in advance.

“I said very clearly, if intelligence operated in the way it did in the police service before 2008, the incidents of February 6 and 7 would not have happened. It would not have been allowed [to happen].”

Gathering information from the political arena was “not a priority at all” for the department. However, the intelligence department did monitor political activities, especially protests or demonstrations that affect public peace.

“Considering the information I was receiving in my post, I do not believe what occurred on those two days happened spontaneously.”

Police received intelligence that plans were made to carry out anti-government activities with police involvement to disrupt a mass gathering planned by the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for February 17, 2012 as part of its campaign for judicial reform.

“We had learned that discussions took place. This information would be recorded in the Maldives Police Service intelligence department intelligence reports and intelligence logs.”

On the night of February 6, when clashes erupted between opposition protesters and government supporters at the artificial beach, the intelligence department was monitoring the situation. Communications from the mutinying police from the Specialist Operations (SO) department at Republic Square were being intercepted.

An off-duty platoon from the SO was active at the artificial beach without orders.

Following the military’s detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed on January 16, 2012, anti-government graffiti was discovered in the toilets of the SO accommodation block at Iskandharu Koshi. The graffiti called for Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh, Deputy Commissioner Ismail Atheef and President Mohamed Nasheed to be killed.

“I believe that police as a whole was not ready for democratic governance. There were serious problems in the institution.”

The judge’s arrest sparked demonstrations by the opposition coalition for 22 consecutive nights. During that period, police would gather at the Republic Square at 7:00pm every night and follow the protests until 2:30am or 3am.

“The sole focus of police was on these demonstrations. During the whole day, the police service was almost asleep.”

On January 23, 2012, the intelligence department prepared an assessment report of the situation with a recommendation for the Commissioner of Police to seek the release of Judge Abdulla from military detention and find “another settlement” of the issue.

At the demonstrations outside the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building, opposition leaders were publicly claiming that police and army officers would join their protest.

On January 17, 2012, ten senior police officers above the rank of chief inspector met with the Commissioner of Police and informed him that they “did not accept” having to control the protests against the judge’s arrest. The ten senior officers were in charge of police operations.

“One of them indirectly proposed that the commissioner resign that very day.”

In the coming days, police intelligence learned that some of the senior officers had separate meetings with the current Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz, State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz ‘FA’ and Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim.

The ten senior officers were also noticeably absent from the police headquarters during the operations to control the opposition protests.

On January 18, 2012, President Mohamed Nasheed met with police officers of commissioned rank at the police headquarters theatre hall and attempted to explain the reasons for the judge’s arrest. A few days later, an audio clip of President Nasheed’s talk was leaked and broadcast on opposition-aligned DhiTV and Villa TV.

A police officer of a junior rank was meanwhile caught relaying information of the operation to opposition politicians leading the demonstrations. Riot police officers were also seen to be reluctant in taking action against unruly demonstrators.

A few nights before February 6, opposition protesters marched to the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) building, located near the ruling party’s Haruge (meeting hall). In response, a group of MDP activists led by MDP MPs made their way to the Supreme Court building and MMA area.

In contrast to their attitude towards opposition demonstrators, SO officers deployed at the MMA area forcibly broke up the MDP protest as soon as it reached the police lines.

Police intelligence learned that a SO officer called Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Mahloof later that night and bragged of having beaten up MDP supporters. In the intercepted call, MP Mahloof asked the officer why they did not break the leg of MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik at the protest.

Based on such intelligence information, the assessment report prepared on January 23 warned that the likelihood of “police and army officers coming out against the government” was high.

In the early hours of February 7, the special assessment unit of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) responsible for intelligence regarding domestic security relayed information that PPM council member ‘Marz’ Ahmed Saleem was coordinating efforts to send speedboats to Dhoonidhoo and Feydhoo Finolhu to bring more police officers to join the mutinying police at the Republic Square.

Police intelligence also learned that some army officers inside military headquarters told the mutinying police around 4:00am that the soldiers would join the mutiny if they held on for four more hours. The intercepted calls between army and police officers were provided by MNDF intelligence.

At 10:30am on February 7, mutinying police assaulted Hameed and other senior officers inside the conference room on the 5th floor of the police headquarters and dragged them out “by the cuff”.

Hameed made his way to the office of the Police Commissioner on the 4th floor. At 11:00am, Chief Superintendent Abdulla Fairoosh came into the office, sat down and informed the commissioner that a team was going into the military headquarters to give President Nasheed an ultimatum. Fairoosh asked the commissioner what he intended to do.

“I took that indirectly [to mean] ‘I am taking over, so the commissioner of police should step aside or resign.’”

The commissioner then went to the conference room and made his parting remarks. All commissioned officers in Male’ were present, some in uniform and others in plainclothes. After the commissioner left, a vote was taken among the senior officers to appoint Fairoosh interim commissioner. Two assistant commissioners were present.

After Fairoosh took charge, Chief Superintendent Ahmed Saudhee then told Hameed that he was no longer head of the intelligence department. Hameed was to be replaced by Chief Inspector Abdul Mannan Yoosuf, who had been studying Business Administration in the UK and was in Male’ at the time on holiday.

Following the appointment of Abdulla Riyaz as commissioner on the night of February 8, 2012, Hameed was made a member of the executive team and appointed head of the service development directorate.

Earlier in the day, confronted by thousands of MDP supporters in a march across Male’, Hameed saw that the senior officers were “in shock” and appeared not to have command and control. Individual officers at the scene acted without orders.

As vice chair of the promotion board, Hameed also noted that 1,112 police officers were promoted on March 31, 2012 while only 600 forms were submitted under the normal promotion procedure. Commissioner of Police Riyaz had instructed heads of directorates to submit a list of officers in their departments for promotion.

Under promotion rules that were supposed to have been amended by then, the commissioner is authorised to “deviate from the normal promotion routine” and promote officers who have shown “special” qualities or exceptional performance.

The new lists were hastily approved during a promotion board meeting after midnight on March 31 while the promotion ceremony was scheduled for 10:00am the next morning. The board meeting was chaired first by Commissioner Riyaz and then Deputy Commissioner Hussain Waheed. The latter was receiving phone calls as late as 3:00am to add new names to the list of officers to be promoted.

Hameed’s objection to promoting officers suspected of brutality and breach of ethics on February 6, 7 and 8 was ignored. SO officers involved in the events were given single and double promotions.

“What we saw was that officers with a disciplinary record from the floor to the ceiling were given promotion by the executive board.”

Hameed further noted that failure to preserve CCTV footage from February 7 cast doubt on the “integrity of the current [police] leadership.” The footage was automatically wiped out on March 7, 2012.


Summary: Testimony of Brigadier General Nilam to Government Oversight Committee

Following is a summary of the testimony (Dhivehi) of Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) to parliament’s Government Oversight Committee on January 9, 2013.

Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam was head of military intelligence until late 2011. At the time of the transfer of power, General Nilam was commander of the marine corp. In the wake of his testimony to the Government Oversight Committee, General Nilam was suspended and relieved of his duties by Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim on January 18, 2013.

As his first intimation of a plot to overthrow the government through the security services, Nilam took note of an opposition demonstration on January 24, 2010, during which Umar Naseer led protesters to the MNDF headquarters and rattled the gates.

“My field officers [in the intelligence department] said they were seeing signs of something abnormal about to happen. But we could not know what it was, right?”

Nilam ordered the gates to be shut before the protesters made their way to the Republic Square or the “green zone” where gatherings are prohibited.

“I see now that there is a connection between the incidents that night and February 6. This is what I feel.”

In November 2010, a senior officer serving under the Vice Chief of Defence Forces Farhath Shaheer shared information of an alleged plot to assassinate President Mohamed Nasheed during a live-fire exercise on November 11, 2010. Based on the forewarning, President Nasheed did not attend the Republic Day function. The case was sent to police for further investigation.

In late 2011, then-Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaan removed Nilam from his post as head of military intelligence. Within three months, he was appointed to two posts before being made commander of the marine corp.

Nilam learned that Tholhath made the decision on his own without consulting the commander-in-chief. Nilam saw that President Nasheed trusted the defence minister.

In November 2011, Nilam sent a six or seven page letter to President Nasheed expressing concern with Tholhath’s actions. The defence minister was interested in “very quickly purchasing expensive instruments.” Tholhath also made a number of changes to the military top brass, shuffling senior officers, including Commander of Special Forces Colonel Giyas.

A month after Nilam was removed as head of intelligence, his former deputy, Colonel Abdulla Zuhuree, was also transferred.

Prior to the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, General Nilam participated in a meeting on January 15, 2012 with the Supreme Court bench, senior police officers and military officers to discuss national security threats posed by the judiciary.

In a meeting with senior military officers a day before, Tholhath spoke about taking the judge under military custody. Nilam opined that any person could be detained if he was a threat to national security. He however advised against moving too quickly and suggested planning and coordination with other institutions.

But the minister wanted it done immediately and asserted that he would take responsibility “even after 40 years.” Police had officially requested military assistance at the time in accordance with the law.

On the night of February 6, 2012, Nilam was unaware that the military was brought to red alert, the highest security status. He found out later from a timeline of events. Contrary to normal procedure, the duty head did not inform him nor was a message sent.

Nilam was having coffee with Chief of Defence Forces Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel when he saw Specialist Operations (SO) police on television running towards the artificial beach. The generals then made their way to the operation room. Both were in plainclothes. Nilam did not have any operational command at the time.

Shortly afterwards, SO officers returned to the Republic Square and began their protest or strike. Nilam decided against going to the barracks at Kalhuthukkala Koshi for his uniform.

“I felt staying inside would be better than going because it was unclear how this was unfolding. So I stayed as I was. It kept getting dragged on and on. And as I recall the then-President came [to the military headquarters] some time around dawn.”

Fearful of the potential threat to domestic security, Nilam remained inside the operation room and returned to the room despite being sent out six or seven times by Tholhath.

Nilam stayed close to President Nasheed, who was asking the operation commanders to clear the Republic Square of mutinying police. Nilam warned of dangerous consequences if the situation dragged on and worsened. He later learned that the military ranks were not functioning and some soldiers wanted to join the mutiny.

Nilam thought that a violent confrontation between police and the military might have been the desired outcome of the then-opposition. After the break of dawn, President Nasheed went out and addressed the mutinying police but they remained defiant.

More police officers kept joining the protest at Republic Square as false rumours began to circulate. About 45 soldiers from Kalhuthukkala Koshi came to the Republic Square. Nilam learned later that military police opened the gates to let the soldiers out.

Military officers also joined the police officers and opposition activists in taking over state broadcaster MNBC.

The president, defence minister and chief of defence forces were issuing orders because “the [military] lines weren’t working.”

“I was really saddened. This was not something I ever saw inside the military. There has been insubordination. There are former officers here [among MPs on the committee]. There is insubordination. But things have never happened like this in such an operation.”

Nilam saw a president in a “very helpless state”, which was “a sad moment.”

“We are entrusted with the duty and responsibility of protecting the country’s independence and sovereignty. It is truly disturbing to see something like that from [the military].”

The situation inside the barracks was chaotic. Soldiers were filming on their phones or cameras although it was strictly prohibited.

Nilam also learned that the military did not have “any control of [presidential residence] Muleeage after 7:00am or 7:30am in the morning.”

Police and ex-servicemen entered Muleeage after 7:15am on February 7. Nilam heard later that some officers of the Special Protection Group (SPG) guarding the President and Vice-President had joined the mutiny.

He also learned later that First Lady Madam Laila Ali was taken out of the presidential residence in a car whose number plates had been changed to avoid detection.

Nilam was surprised and saddened when the CoNI report did not include any recommendations for the MNDF. He believed it was important to thoroughly investigate the role of the military in the events of the day.

“That is because if something like this happens and it is not investigated, the consequences will be very dangerous. We are in that state now.”

Following the change of government, Defence Minister Nazim asked Nilam if he believed the transfer of power amounted to a coup or a revolution.

Nilam replied, “Looking at it academically, this has all the characteristics of a coup. Some signs are what would happen before while other signs are what occurs during the event. Then we have what happens afterward. I have even looked into this and studied this along principles that academicians would consider. So I told [Nazim] that this has all the characteristics. He didn’t say anything else.”

Under Maldivian law, a “coup d’etat” could not be carried out without the military’s involvement as the offence is specified and prohibited in the Defence Forces Act of 2008.

Inside the military headquarters, Nilam overheard President Nasheed refuse assistance from two foreign nations before he decided to resign.

“[The President] said this is an internal matter. He answered both calls in much the same way.”

Considering the chaotic situation at the Republic Square, there was possibility of bloodshed “if it dragged on” and the president’s life was in danger.

Nilam was present when current Defence Minister Nazim relayed the ultimatum to Tholhath for the president’s “unconditional” resignation.

Nilam saw military officers bang the president’s car with their boots while he was escorted to the President’s Office from the military headquarters. He also noted that current Chief of Defence Forces General Ahmed Shiyam took over as acting chief before President Nasheed officially resigned.

“There are a lot of questions here. I believe that this should be investigated thoroughly and looked into. These are very serious matters.”


New footage of Feb 7 shows Yameen, Gasim inciting demonstrators, police

Private broadcaster Raajje TV on Friday aired previously unseen footage from February 7, 2012, before the controversial resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed claimed that he resigned “under duress” after elements of the police and army joined opposition protesters and attacked the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) headquarters following a police mutiny in Republic Square.

The new footage shows government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim – both presidential hopefuls – address the protesting police, army officers and opposition supporters.

“The Indian government is with the Maldivian people,” Yameen announced to the assembled police and anti-government demonstrators. He was however cut short by police appealing for cooperation from the crowd.

After MNDF officers were pegged back and forced inside military headquarters following a confrontation with the mutinying police, the Republic Square – or the “green zone” where gatherings are prohibited – was overrun by opposition supporters and police officers.

The PPM parliamentary group leader reportedly arrived at the Republic Square after a meeting at the Indian High Commission.

Business tycoon and JP presidential candidate Gasim meanwhile praised mutinying police and army officers for their “sacrifice” and “jihad for the nation.”

In March 2012, Raajje TV aired video footage of political party leaders inside police headquarters before the resignation of President Nasheed. Upon receiving news of President Nasheed’s decision to resign, Gasim is heard to say that it was “fortunate that this ended without going to military rule.”

Gasim is a member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which has appointed the three-member panel of judges overhearing Nasheed’s trial in the Hulhumale Magistrate Court.

Meanwhile, in the more recent footage televised by Raajje TV, a police officer announces that “ [state broadcaster] MNBC has been brought under control” and that the security forces were in the process of “arresting those we have to take into custody.”

Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim and Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz are also seen active in the area outside military headquarters, with one of the clips showing the latter carrying President Nasheed’s resignation letter.

Both ex-servicemen under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom were civilians at the time of the transfer of power.

In other videos that emerged at the time, Nazim is seen announcing to the mutinying police and army officers that President Nasheed had been told to resign “unconditionally”.

Nazim also announced that he was “in charge of the army” and would soon appoint senior officers.

One of the previously unseen videos aired by Raajje TV further showed President Nasheed exiting the military headquarters in a car surrounded by MNDF officers and being driven the short distance to the President’s Office.

Following Nazim’s appeal to those gathered to refrain from violence, former Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohamed Rishwan is also seen addressing the crowd atop a military vehicle and appealing for cooperation and nonviolence.

Rishwan had reportedly denied any involvement in the events of February 7, 2012.

Meanwhile, in an interview with government-aligned radio station DhiFM on February 8 this year, Defence Minister Nazim claimed that President Nasheed would have been mobbed and killed if he was not escorted to the President’s Office under military protection.

“I would say in truth, given the level of hatred from the public, President Nasheed would not be in this world today if we had not taken him out and to the President’s Office under our protection. [Former President] Mohamed Ameen comes to mind. The people would have mobbed [Nasheed] just like that,” Nazim was quoted as saying in local media.

He added that video clips from the day would show “the extreme level of hatred from the public”.

Similar remarks were made by PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer days after the transfer of power. Naseer claimed at a PPM rally that Nasheed’s only options were to either “resign after bloodshed or resign peacefully”.

On August 30, 2012, the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) formed by President Dr Mohamed Waheed however concluded that there was “no coup, no mutiny and no duress” in President Nasheed’s resignation.

February 8

Raajje TV has also aired a video clip from the day after the transfer of presidential power following a brutal police crackdown on a walk across Male’ by supporters of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

In the wake of the crackdown near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building near Republic Square, President Nasheed along with MPs Mariya Ahmed Didi and ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik took refuge in a shop and were dragged out by riot police.

The new footage shows President Nasheed surrounded and manhandled by the Specialist Operations (SO) officers before he manages to wriggle free and run. According to media reports on February 8, Nasheed rejoined supporters at the area and was taken to safety.

MP Yameen addressing crowd

MP Gasim addressing crowd

“MNBC has been taken under control”

President Nasheed exits MNDF headquarters

President Nasheed walks to Muleeage after resignation

Riyaz carrying resignation letter

Mutinying police and army officers calling for president’s resignation

Nasheed escapes SO officers on February 8, 2012

Nasheed rejoins supporters

Nazim demands “unconditional resignation” of President Nasheed


Brigadier General Nilam suspended following testimony to Government Oversight Committee

Former head of military intelligence, Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam, has been relieved of his duties at the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), by Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim.

According to a statement by the Defence Ministry yesterday, General Nilam was suspended because a case involving the former head of military intelligence was under investigation.

The statement did not provide further details or specify the nature of the investigation and alleged offence.

The move follows the Brigadier General’s testimony (Dhivehi) to parliament’s Government Oversight Committee on January 9, which was made public on Wednesday after MPs on the committee voted to publicise minutes of the closed session.

During the past two weeks, the oversight committee has summoned high-ranking officers of the security services for its review of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI’s) report into the transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012.

In his testimony to the committee, Brigadier General Nilam said he was asked by Defence Minister Nazim if he believed that the transfer of power amounted to a coup or a revolution.

Nilam said he replied that, “looking at it academically, this has all the characteristics of a coup.”

“I have even looked into this and studied this along principles that academicians would consider. So I told [Nazim] that this has all the characteristics. He didn’t say anything else,” Nilam said.

Asked by pro-government Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Nihan if he believed there was a coup d’etat, Nilam said based on his experience in military intelligence, “this has roots that go much deeper.”

Brigadier General Nilam was seen in leaked video from inside the MNDF headquarters showing a frenzied former President Nasheed ordering officers to go out and confront the mutinying police on the morning of February 7.

Responding to questions by committee members, Nilam explained that the president, defence minister and chief of defence forces were issuing orders because “the [military] lines weren’t working.”

“I was really saddened. This was not something I ever saw inside the military. There has been insubordination. There are former officers here [among MPs on the committee]. There is insubordination. But things have never happened like this in such an operation,” Nilam said at the committee.

Nilam added that he saw a president in a “very helpless” state, which was “a sad moment.”

“We are entrusted with the duty and responsibility of protecting the country’s independence and sovereignty. It is truly disturbing to see something like from [the military],” he said.

The brigadier general said he was present when current Defence Minister Nazim relayed the message for the president’s “unconditional” resignation.

He also noted that military officers banged the president’s car with their boots while he was taken to the President’s Office from the military headquarters and that current Chief of Defence Forces General Ahmed Shiyam took over as acting chief before President Nasheed officially resigned.

“There are lot of questions here. I believe that this should be investigated thoroughly and looked into. These are very serious matters,” he said.

Under Maldivian law, Brigadier General Nilam continued, a “coup d’etat” could not be carried out without the military’s involvement as the offence is specified and prohibited in the Defence Forces Act of 2008.

Asked by the committee’s chair, MP Ali Waheed, if there was a threat to the life of President Nasheed had he not resigned, Nilam said weapons were stored because there was fear of live armour being used and that the mutinying police were armed with riot gear.

Nilam also revealed that the military did not have “any control of [presidential residence] Muleeage after 7:00am or 7:30am in the morning.”

Police and ex-servicemen entered Muleeage after 7:15am on February 7, 2012, he added.

First Lady Laila Ali and the president’s daughters were reportedly taken to a safe location in the morning.

Continuing his testimony, Brigadier General Nilam said he overheard President refuse assistance from two foreign nations before he decided to resign.

“[The President] said this is an internal matter. He answered both calls in much the same way,” he said.

Nilam added that there was possibility of bloodshed “if it dragged on” and that the president’s life was in danger.

Meanwhile, former Chief Superintendent of Police Mohamed Jinah was also relieved of his duties last week following his testimony to the oversight committee.


Nasheed’s ousting result of “planning, propaganda and a lot of work”: Umar Naseer

The resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, 2012 was the result of “planning, propaganda and a lot of work”, interim deputy leader of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer has claimed.

Introducing candidates from “Team Umar” at a rally last week ahead of the PPM’s first congress this weekend, Naseer urged supporters to vote for members of his team as they had “produced results” through street activism against the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) administration.

“A lot of people told us that Mohamed Nasheed’s government cannot be toppled from the street. I said while contesting for DRP’s [Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s] deputy leader that I was coming to this post to topple Mohamed Nasheed’s government from the street. We have proven and shown that,” he said.

“You should not think that February 7 happened automatically,” he continued. “It did not happen like that. It was the result of planning, propaganda and a lot of work by some people. It did not happen automatically.”

While former President Nasheed insists that he was forced to resign “under duress” following a police mutiny and loss of command and control over the military, a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) found that the transfer of power to then-Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was constitutional.

Speaking at last week’s rally, Umar Naseer said members of his team led protests for 22 consecutive nights and played an important role in backing up mutinying police officers in the early hours of February 7.

In an interview with Australian journalist Mark Davis for the SBS Dateline television programme in February 2012, Naseer claimed he was at a “command center” on the night of February 6 directing protests by the then-opposition.

“On the protesters’ side, we were informing and educating the police and army through our speeches and television programs,” Naseer said.

Asked by Davis if the opposition had made any other inducements, such as promises that they and their families would be “looked after” if they switched sides, Naseer said “there were.”

He added that the former president could have been beaten by a mob if he had emerged from the military headquarters without agreeing to resign.

At the first PPM rally following the controversial transfer of presidential power, Umar Naseer said he told former President Nasheed to resign “or else you might lose your life.”

Naseer claimed that the former president’s choices were to either resign peacefully or “resign after bloodshed.”

“While the operation [protest] was going on that night, I was at the commanding center. I was talking to Nasheed’s close aides. I told them to surrender; otherwise [he] might lose life. I told them that repeatedly. But, firstly, they responded arrogantly saying they do not have to surrender [because] such a circumstance has arrived,” Umar claimed.

But around 8:30am the next morning, Umar claimed that Nasheed called him saying that he wanted to resign. Nasheed said that he would not participate in any political activities hereafter, Umar added.

“Nasheed called and said that he is prepared to resign. He requested arrangements to be made for him and his family to leave for somewhere else. I told him that it will be arranged and to prepare for resignation,” Umar claimed.

Following media coverage of those remarks, Umar however released a statement claiming he did not imply that President Nasheed’s life was threatened by police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

During the unrest, Umar said that he spoke to Former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu and told him that their lives were in danger because of the large number of protesters in Republic Square.

“I said his life could be in danger because of the large number of people gathered there [Republican Square] and it seemed that police, MNDF did not have the capacity to control the crowd – not even us,” Umar said.

“We feared from our hearts that if the civilians [protesters] had entered the MNDF headquarters by using any means, Nashed, Tholhath and MNDF and police inside the building [at the time] would have been at danger.”


Nasheed administration was “toppled,” tweets Home Minister Dr Jameel

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed tweeted today that the previous administration of President Mohamed Nasheed was “toppled” on February 7, 2012.

“2012 was historic year for the Maldives. Democracy was tested repeatedly, arrogant, impulsive & authoritarian regime of Nasheed was toppled,” he wrote.

The government of former Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed has insisted that Nasheed resigned voluntarily and that the transfer of power was constitutional – a stance backed by the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) earlier this year.

Jameel however tweeted that the events of February 7 was a “landmark moment where people power prevailed over a mad govt that failed to hear the voice of the people.”

President Nasheed resigned on February 7 after police officers joined opposition protesters in mutiny at the Republic Square in the wake of violent clashes at the artificial beach between rival protesters and an assault on members of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party by riot police.


Government threatens legal action against parliament

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza has threatened legal action “using all the powers of the government” against the People’s Majlis to “bring parliament back to the right path” in an appearance on government-aligned private broadcaster DhiTV on October 25.

Referring to parliament’s General Affairs Committee approving an amendment to the rules of procedure to conduct no-confidence motions through secret ballot, Riza said that the government could not “turn a blind eye” to what he contended was a move that violated the constitution.

“The constitution and parliamentary rules of procedure clearly state which votes are to be conducted through secret ballot. The rest of the votes should be open,” he claimed.

Riza went on to heavily criticise the committee decision, insisting that it violated the parliamentary rules on conducting committees meetings and votes.

The formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has submitted no-confidence motions against both Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

While the motion against Home Minister Jameel has been tabled in the agenda for November 14, the impeachment motion has yet to be tabled.

The MDP-dominated General Affairs Committee approved the amendment for a secret ballot last week with four votes in favour and none against, committee chair and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP for mid-Henveiru Ali Azim told local media. Only five MPs reportedly attended the committee meeting last week.

The amendment to parliament’s standing orders or rules of procedure would have to be approved in a vote at the Majlis floor to become official.

While a minister can be removed from his post through a simple majority of the 77 MPs in parliament, a two-thirds majority or 52 votes would be needed to impeach a sitting president.

Meanwhile, responding to Riza today, MDP Spokesperson and Henveiru South MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor told Minivan News that the party believed the remarks constituted a threat to violate separation of powers.

“It is simply second nature for the 7/2 police and military-backed coup-invoked dictatorship to use force to stay afloat,” the MP said.

Hamid had earlier tweeted that Abbas’s remarks were “open threats of use of force to stop secret ballot.”


Police crackdown on February 8 “brutal”, “without warning”: HRCM

A police crackdown on a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) march across Male’ on February 8 that left dozens of demonstrators injured was “brutal” and “without prior warning,” the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) concluded in an investigative report (Dhivehi) made public yesterday.

Based on its findings, the HRCM recommended that the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and Police Integrity Commission (PIC) should investigate the “disproportionate” use of force in violation of police regulations authorising use of less-lethal weapons. Legal action should be taken against the officers responsible for any such offences, the commission concluded.

“This commission notes that the human rights of a number of people were violated as a result of police using disproportionate force in violation of the constitution, the Police Act and regulations, and international conventions the Maldives is signatory to in dispersing a gathering of MDP supporters at the MMA [Maldives Monetary Authority] area on 8 February 2012 ,” the HRCM report concluded.

“The commission believes that those who carried out these acts must bear responsibility.”

On February 8, thousands of MDP supporters took to the streets after former President Mohamed Nasheed declared that his resignation the previous day was “under duress” in a “coup d’etat” instigated by mutinying Special Operations (SO) police officers.

The HRCM report on the human rights violations that occurred on February 8 was compiled based on interviews with senior MDP leaders who participated in the walk, police commanders, senior military officers, eyewitnesses, victims of police brutality and media personnel as well as photo and video evidence.

An injured protester

While 32 people filed complaints with the commission concerning varying degrees of injuries sustained in the crackdown, 20 people submitted medical documents of their treatment of injuries.

Among the injuries caused by the police baton charge, the HRCM report noted that several people were bruised and battered, one person fractured a bone in his leg, one person was left with a broken arm and six people sustained head wounds.

Two fingers on the left hand of one demonstrator were crushed, the report noted, and the victim had to undergo treatment at the operating theatre.

The former ruling party meanwhile informed HRCM that the march across Male’ was spontaneous and that the party had not planned to stage any protests on the day.

According to the MDP, participants of the walk were sitting down at the MMA area when the police charged without warning and caused serious injuries, noting that most people were attacked from behind.

Senior members of the party told the commission that police were asked to let MDP supporters continue their march along the outer ring road of Boduthakurufaanumagu.

MDP claimed that police refused to transport victims of the alleged brutality to the hospital and that former President Nasheed’s military bodyguards left the area before the baton charge.

“Emotionally charged”

In interviews with senior police officers and commanders in the field on February 8, the HRCM was told that police intelligence had learned that the MDP supporters were planning to “confront” police officers.

Participants of the MDP walk “attempted to cause damage” to the Family and Child Protection Unit building and Galolhu police station, the officers claimed, at which point they determined that the gathering was not peaceful.

Police did not allow the march to continue because participants could have entered the Republic Square or green zone, where gatherings are prohibited under freedom of assembly regulations.

Police further claimed that protesters hit police shields and that armed gangs “under the influence of drugs” were part of the crowd.

While protesters did not cross the police line, the senior officers said that rocks were thrown at the police. About 30 riot police and plain-clothed officers from other departments were in the area at the time, police said.

While police conceded that “a large number of civilians were injured by police officers” on February 8, senior officers interviewed by the HRCM revealed that the riot police were not acting on commands.

The violence occurred “because individual police officers were too emotionally charged at the time,” the senior officers said.

“And when civilians were getting injured by individual police officers, [they said] senior police officers went to the area and attempted to gather all police officers in one place,” the report stated.

The senior police officers further claimed that police were “very psychologically weakened” due to the events of February 7.

Following the crackdown, police admitted that “use of force” forms were not filled out and an “after action review report” was not drafted as was required under normal procedure.

Meanwhile, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) informed HRCM that about 15 soldiers were active in the area during the crackdown, but claimed that military personnel did not witness police brutality.

When the protesters reached the MMA junction, they began striking the MNDF riot shields and throwing water bottles. They were then pushed back about 20 feet, where they sat down, the MNDF explained.

Contrary to the HRCM’s findings, the MNDF claimed that police advised the protesters to disperse and issued warnings before advancing with riot shields.

Military personnel used coloured smoke “to minimize damage and for ease of controlling those gathered,” the MNDF informed the commission.

Concluding observations

Opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV meanwhile provided video footage to HRCM showing the arrest of MDP MPs ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Mariya Ahmed Didi, Imthiyaz Fahmy and Ibrahim Rasheed.

MDP Chairperson 'Reeko' Moosa Manik

An HRCM team that visited Dhoonidhoo detention centre observed “bruises all over the body” of one of the MPs, while her eyes were bloodied and swollen.

The commission noted in its concluding observations that police officers “acted very harshly” towards the politicians “in ways that could cause physical and psychological harm” even though they showed “no resistance.”

While the Raajje TV cameraman was shooting the arrest of MDP Chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik, HRCM was told that two plain-clothed officers “pushed and shoved” Raajje TV reporters to the Republic Square and severed the camera cable, ending the station’s live feed.

However, in its concluding observation, the commission reprimanded the private broadcaster for their coverage of the events, which “incited fear and hatred among citizens, instilled a spirit of vengeance and caused serious damage to private and public property.”

Conversely, the commission noted that reporters from private broadcasters DhiTV and Villa TV – alleged by the MDP to have incited hatred against the administration of former President Nasheed and promoted the “coup d’etat” – were “threatened and intimidated” by MDP supporters and were consequently prevented from covering the march.

The HRCM also noted that students at Immadhudeen School during the afternoon session were adversely affected by the MDP supporters gathering outside the party’s Haruge camp on the afternoon of February 8. The party’s gathering area was ransacked by rogue riot police and army officers prior to President Nasheed’s resignation.

The commission contended that MDP supporters were loud and used obscene language outside Haruge, which was reclaimed by supporters led by President Nasheed to the area after the MDP national council meeting earlier in the day.

Citing article 72(b)(1) of the Police Act, which prohibits “commission of an act that could obstruct the execution of any of the police powers and discretions, or plotting to commit such an act, or participate in the commission of such an act, or call for or encourage or assist others to commit such an act,” the HRCM claimed that MDP supporters who participated in the walk “obstructed the performance of police duties.”

Moreover, the commission noted that patients and staff at hospitals ADK and IGMH faced “serious difficulties and inconveniences” due to MDP supporters gathering outside both hospitals following the police crackdown.

However, the BBC reported “a baton charge by police on crowds gathered outside one of the main hospitals.”

“People scattered as officers sprinted towards them silhouetted against the lights of passing traffic,” the BBC’s Andrew North reported from Male’. “Inside the hospital, dozens of Mr Nasheed’s supporters are still being treated for injuries, following earlier scuffles in the main square. Among them is Reeko Moosa Maniku, chairman of Mr Nasheed’s Maldives Democratic Party – who was with the former president when the clashes broke out. With a large head bandage and his shirt bloodied, he regained consciousness as we arrived. The police said they would kill me, he told us, as they beat me. Another MP was still unconscious in another ward.”

The crackdown

While riot police baton charged the front of the protest march on February 8, Minivan News observed riot police officers charging the crowd from a narrow alley leading to the MMA area.

The Special Operations officers used obscene language, pointed to and chased after individual MDP activists and severely beat unarmed civilians.

Parts of the attack from the rear were filmed by Al Jazeera, which reported on February 8 that “police and military charged, beating demonstrators as they ran – women, the elderly, dozens left nursing their wounds.”

Amid the clashes, a group of opposition demonstrators infiltrated the crowds, attacking MDP supporters, according to witnesses.

Former President Nasheed was reported among the injured, and received head injuries during the clashes. He was briefly taken under police custody before being released back into the crowd.

Minivan News also observed several youth with head injuries queuing up for x-rays in the waiting area outside the reception area at IGMH.

One young woman who had gone to IGMH with her sister was being treated for a head wound. A gauze wrapped around her head was spotted with blood, and she claimed the wound was still bleeding as she went in for an X-ray.

“The police were just standing there and suddenly we were being beaten with batons and pepper spray was thrown in our face. They threw us to the ground and kept beating us,” she said.

Explaining that she, her sister and most women had joined the party’s “walk around Male” because they understood it was not a violent protest, the young woman said she had never seen indiscriminate beating of men and women on Male’ under Mohamed Nasheed.

“It was just supposed to be a peaceful walk. That’s why we went, and why more women than usual went. But there was no warning of the attack, no announcements, we were all beaten even after we began retreating. My sister was almost trampled,” she said. “I just think it’s disgusting that the police could beat so many unarmed women.”