The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) office on Sosun Magu in Malé was set on fire around 12:45am last night amid escalating tension in the capital.
The arson attack follows vandalism of the main opposition party’s office for two consecutive nights and numerous death threats sent from unlisted numbers to MDP MPs, senior members and dozens of journalists.
Eyewitnesses told local media that petrol was poured into the ground floor of the office through the smashed up windows before a lit molotov cocktail was hurled inside. A second lit molotov cocktail fell outside the door.
A team from the fire and rescue service of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) arrived shortly after the incident and extinguished the flames. The damage caused by the fire was reported to be minor.
According to the party, the attack came about 15 minutes after staff left the office in Henveiru Sharaasha.
Meanwhile, around 2:15am, the door of former MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor’s residence was set ablaze. Half an hour later, Hamid received a text warning that he would be stabbed and killed.
The fire was swiftly put out before it could spread. An eyewitness saw a lit molotov cocktail or ‘petrol bomb’ hit the door.
The previous night (September 24), crude oil was thrown on the house of former President Mohamed Nasheed while the opposition leader was at an MDP national council meeting at the nearby Malé City Hall.
The windshield of MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed’s car was smashed with a large rock later the same evening.
Hamid told Minivan News yesterday that attacks against the party’s office and members have been frequent during the past eight years.
“Since 2005, MDP office has been vandalised countless times and each time we get a forensics team doing some investigation but there seems to be no end to these investigations,” the party’s international spokesperson said.
Hamid suggested that the recent spate of attacks might be motivated by Nasheed accusing Adhaalath Party leaders of radicalising and indoctrinating youth to carry out vigilante actions in the name of Islam.
“Don’t do this to our youth. Don’t make them do vile deeds after picking them out individually and leading them astray,” Nasheed appealed at an MDP rally held on Monday night (September 22).
In a tweet posted yesterday, Nasheed expressed concern with the evident lack of concern from PPM in response to the repeated vandalism of the MDP office as well as the death threats sent to MPs and senior members.
MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News last week that death threats have become too commonplace to publicise each incident.
Following last week’s rally, MDP MP Eva Abdulla received a text message threatening a suicide attack at the next MDP gathering. The message also threatened to “kill off” MDP members and vowed to “fight to the last drop of blood.”
Eva revealed on social media last night that she had received a text threatening to kill the children of MDP members.
“Don’t bring out your children on the streets these days. Stabbing season is about to begin. [We] will kill you,” the message read.
Eva noted that the same message was sent to many MDP members while the “govt looks on”.
Several journalist were also sent a text message warning them not to cover “the incidents happening in Malé now”, which yesterday included an attack on the Minivan News office and SMS threats to a staff member.
“This is a war between the laadheenee [secular or irreligious] MDP mob and religious people. We advise the media not to come in the middle of this. We won’t hesitate to kill you,” read the threat.
The text message was sent to journalists from opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV, Vaguthu.mv and state broadcaster Television Maldives as well as other news outlets.
Following the vandalism of the party’s office for a second consecutive night, the MDP put out a press statement yesterday criticising the police’s failure to properly investigate the attacks and apprehend the perpetrators.
The statement noted that Wednesday’s nights attacks came after protection was sought from the police.
“This party believes that the attacks against the MDP leadership, administrative staff, and property are an uncivilised atrocity committed to eradicate opposition political ideology,” the party stated.
The party further contended that statements from government ministers and institutions were encouraging the “atrocities” and increase of serious crimes, condemning the government’s inaction and silence in the wake of the attacks.
“The party assures all Maldivian citizens that despite the attacks on the residences and property of the MDP’s senior leaders, the party’s leadership will not back down a single inch and swiftly carry on with our efforts to establish justice and equality in the Maldives, ensure human rights, and strengthen democracy,” the statement read.