Three arrested for threatening to kill expatriate waiters

Two men and a minor were arrested on Sunday night for threatening to kill expatriate waiters and damaging property at the Hotel Memorial café in Malé.

Police said the suspects, aged 25, 19, and 15, were taken into custody around 12:30am.

Both men had criminal records for assault, and the 25-year-old had been arrested four times with two cases forwarded for prosecution, police said in a statement.

The 19-year-old had been arrested three times and the 15-year-old twice, it added.

On March 22, a 25-year old Bangladeshi national, Shaheen Mia, was stabbed to death in a Malé café in the southwestern harbour.

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IPU to send ‘urgent’ mission over MP death threats, arrests

The Inter-Parliamentary Union will send an urgent mission to the Maldives during the upcoming months to investigate death threats, attacks and arrests of MPs in the country.

The union, which represents parliaments around the world, said they are investigating reports that 30 former and current MPs have been victims of human rights abuses, including one MP who was murdered and another who was stabbed.

After the 132nd Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) assembly this week in Hanoi, the organization said political polarisation and heightened tensions in the Maldives “necessitated an urgent on-site mission” by the IPU’s human rights wing to gather first-hand information.

“The organisation is deeply concerned by the serious and repeated death threats allegedly made against opposition MPs in the Maldives since last year,” an IPU statement said.

Tensions are high across the country after the conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges this month, with opposition parties holding daily protests.

IPU also called on law enforcement agencies to show restraint, and to abide by international and national human rights laws and standards when handling protests.

Meanwhile, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) complains that the speaker of parliament has been excluding the party from the Maldives’ delegations to IPU.

Mohamed Rasheed, secretary general of the MDP parliamentary group, said the delegation is selected in a “petty” manner without including the main opposition party.

One MDP MP was present in Hanoi, but fellow members of his party said that he was “hand-picked”, whereas in the past, the party has sent two MPs of its choice.

Eva Abdulla, an MDP parliamentarian, has been excluded from recent delegations despite being an elected representative for all female South Asian MPs at the IPU.

Threats

Eva told Minivan News that opposition lawmakers have been receiving death threats “every other day” since the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan last August. Rilwan has still not been found.

She said opposition MPs have been receiving phone calls and text messages, and sometimes stalked.

“We filed complaints at the police and with the Majlis itself. However the speaker has not even condemned the threats in public or privately,” she said.

Threats against opposition parliamentarians have caused the IPU to classify the Maldives as one of the most dangerous countries to be an MP, noted Eva.

Several opposition MPs have been arrested at anti-government protests.

Most recently, MP Ahmed Mahloof, formerly of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, was arrested at a protest last week and detained for five days.

When his detention ended, the criminal court placed him on further five days of house arrest after he refused the court’s condition to not participate in further protests for 60 days.

Similarly, MDP MP Ismail Fayyaz was given 15 days’ detention after he refused to accept release under the same conditions.

Eva said police had been slow to investigate a forced entry into Mahloof’s apartment last month, although they were handed CCTV footage of the incident.

The IPU’s list of Maldivian cases includes that of the late PPM MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, who was murdered outside of his home in October 2012, and the stabbing last year of MP Alhan Fahmy, who narrowly avoided paralysis as a result.

PPM MPs and the speaker of parliament had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.

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President Yameen warns of adverse impacts on tourism from threats against guests

President Abdulla Yameen has warned of adverse impacts on tourism from threats against tourists and urged Maldivians to leave aside political differences to assure a safe and secure environment for investors and tourists alike.

Yameen’s statement comes in the aftermath of a death threat issued against Jamaican dancehall artist Sean Paul who is scheduled to perform in Malé on New Year’s Eve.

“Even if such incidences do not actually disrupt the peace, if [guests] believe there is any danger, if they believe there is a threat, we are in effect pouring water into a bottomless container,” Yameen said in a speech in Addu City last night.

The President’s Office yesterday said that the online death threat against Sean Paul was a “local hoax” aimed at damaging the country’s reputation.

An investigation has revealed the threat is “designed to dissuade visitors, create an atmosphere of fear” and aimed “at tarnishing the longstanding reputation of the Maldives as a destination of peace, security, and tranquility,” the President’s Office said.

The video, which has since been removed, promised Sean Paul that “the world will see your burnt and blood drenched dead body,” should he perform in the Maldives.

Representatives of the singer are reported to be undecided about whether the performance is to go ahead.

The tourism ministry’s statistics have meanwhile revealed a 5.1 percent decline in tourist arrivals in November compared to the same month last year.

However, the Maldives welcomed 1.1 million arrivals by November’s end due to a strong growth in arrivals in the first half of the year. The figure amounts to a 7.9 percent increase in arrivals compared to 2013.

President Yameen said the government aims to bring the world’s wealthy to the Maldives and said Maldivians must find common ground with the government despite differences in political ideologies.

“With utmost sincerity, I note it will not be the same leaders ruling the country. Today it is me. Tomorrow it will be someone else. But Maldivians will continue to live on this land. This land must be peaceful,” he said.

Maldivians must not allow foreigners the opportunity to influence the country’s internal affairs, he continued.

“We must not call on foreign militants to come to the Maldives claiming the situation is bad in the Maldives,” he said.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed concern over declining tourist arrivals at the onset of the peak tourist season in the Maldives, blaming the government for lack of a clear policy on tourism and ad-hoc decisions to levy additional tourism taxes.

Noting a seven percent decline in arrivals from European Union, a 22 percent decline from Eastern Europe, four percent from the United Kingdom, 24 percent from France, three percent from Italy, and a 13 percent decline from India in November, opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed in a tweet said “the government’s policy will damage the industry”.

Tourists from the European Union made up 43.3 percent of arrivals while Chinese tourists made up 31.4 percent of arrivals. Russian arrivals declined by 31 percent this year due to the economic downturn in the country.

Nasheed said the threat against Sean Paul is the latest threat to artists by extremists in the country, arguing that “Government support for and refusal to prosecute them [extremists] will affect tourism.”



Related to this story

Sean Paul threat a hoax to create atmosphere of fear, says President’s Office

Expansion of economic activity in third quarter driven by tourism sector: MMA

Tourist arrivals register 10 percent growth in first three quarters of 2014

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MDP slams home minister’s “irresponsible” remarks on Rilwan disappearance, death threats

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has slammed Home Minister Umar Naseer’s “irresponsible” remarks concerning the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan and death threats sent to journalists and politicians.

In a press release yesterday, the main opposition party referred to Naseer having stated at a press conference on Thursday (November 6) that it was too early to determine whether Rilwan was kidnapped, abducted, or missing.

Naseer’s remarks were an example of his “incompetence and irresponsibility,” the press release stated.

“And we note that it contradicts his earlier statement about gang involvement in Ahmed Rilwan’s disappearance.”

In an appearance on state broadcaster Television Maldives last month, Naseer said police “already know there is a gang connection to Rilwan’s case.”

Moreover, police arrested four suspects in relation to Rilwan’s alleged abduction, of which one suspect has been held in remand detention for nearly six weeks.

During Thursday’s press conference, Naseer compared Rilwan’s case with the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

“Not every crime is solvable. And when a crime remains unsolved, it does not mean police were negligent. We are doing all we can in Rilwan’s case. We will not leave any stone unturned,” the home minister told reporters.

Rilwan has been missing for 92 days and is believed to have been abducted at knifepoint outside his apartment at 2am on August 8.

Naseer also criticised the opposition for prematurely concluding that Rilwan was abducted.

Rilwan’s family have meanwhile accused the police of negligence and filed a complaint with the Police Integrity Commission,which is currently being investigated.

“If the abduction had been investigated immediately at the right time, the police would have been able to find the victim and clarify if it is our brother or not,” Rilwan’s sister Mariyam Fazna told the press earlier this month.

Despite eyewitnesses having reported the abduction at knifepoint at 2am on August 8, police only took their statements on August 14, the family noted. The police had also failed to track down and search the car used in the abduction.

The police only searched Rilwan’s apartment 29 hours after the abduction was reported and searched his office 11 days afterwards. The police also failed to make a public announcement on Rilwan’s disappearance – despite a request by the family – and did not inform the public on how to act if they had any information related to the case, the family explained further.

The People’s Majlis last week threw out a 5,055 signature petition urging MPs to pressure police for a through and speedy investigation. The parliament secretariat later admitted the rejection was “a mistake,” according to MP Imthiyaz Fahmy who sponsored the petition.

In September, human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network released an investigation report implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Death threats

The MDP press statement also condemned Naseer’s response to a question regarding death threats sent via unlisted or private numbers to journalists and opposition politicians.

Naseer made a “joke” out of the death threats and claimed recipients were not intimidated or scared, the party contended.

The home minister, however, was surrounded by bodyguards provided by the state and had requested pistols earlier this year, the press release added.

Naseer had claimed that the opposition was using the death threats for political gain.

Last week, MDN urged police to expedite investigations of death threats and provide security to journalists while Amnesty International demanded police intensify their efforts to find those responsible for the numerous death threats and violent attacks against journalists.

The Inter Parliamentary Union has previously said the government’s reaction to the death threats would be a test of its democratic credentials.

After meeting with the IPU earlier last month, union member and MDP MP Eva Abdulla raised concerns over the personal safety of MPs and journalists in the Maldives.

Meanwhile, the MDP also expressed concern with the prevailing atmosphere of fear in the country with serial stabbings, violent assaults, drug trafficking, and death threats.

The party contended that the government was failing to prosecute perpetrators who commit crimes in “broad daylight”.

Naseer’s remarks were prompted by his inability to establish domestic peace and security, the party argued.

“The MDP calls on Home Minister Umar Naseer to not make such irresponsible statements and to fulfil the responsibilities of his post,” the press release stated.

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MDP condemns MNDF decision to cease providing security to MPs

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned the Maldives National Defence Force’s (MNDF) decision to cease providing security to MPs despite continuing death threats.

“We note with concern that security provided by MNDF to members of the People’s Majlis from [October] 20 to 23 was stopped while death threats were made repeatedly to MDP MPs and without the security services investigating the threats and taking action and despite the present danger to the MPs,” read a press statement issued by the main opposition party last night (October 24).

The party contended that providing security to MPs was not optional as Article 105 (b) stipulates that “the security services of the state shall ensure the protection and safety of all members of the People’s Majlis.”

The MDP accused senior officials of the security services of ordering the military to cease providing protection and criticised Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed for failing to ensure the safety of opposition MPs.

The decision was made to intimidate and obstruct opposition MPs from “freely fulfilling their legal responsibilities” as elected representatives, the statement added.

The parliament secretariat sent a text message to MPs on Thursday (October 23) stating that the MNDF would cease providing security as of midnight.

The MNDF informed parliament that the decision was made after assessing the current situation, the message read.

Meanwhile, death threats were sent via text message from an unlisted number to several MDP MPs and senior members yesterday.

“Tomorrow is the last day for all of you. Watch and see. [We] will kill you,” read the message.

An MDP rally is due to take place at the carnival area of Malé tonight.

On October 19, the MNDF urged MPs to stay in at night and offered to provide personal security upon request.

The move followed the escape of two dangerous convicts from Maafushi jail, who were both apprehended in Malé last week.

The MDP said at the time that the MNDF’s offer for protection indicated the “loss of domestic security and extreme levels of fear.”

“It also shows the extent to which senior officials of the government responsible for ensuring public safety and security have lost control of terrorist activities,” the party said in a press release.

series of attacks against the MDP’s premises and upon the homes of some of its members in late September followed months of death threats, described as too numerous to publicise by the party’s spokesman.

The Inter Parliamentary Union has previously said the government’s reaction to the death threats would be a test of its democratic credentials.

A delegation from the IPU visited the Maldives late last year, requesting an urgent assessment of the political situation following repeated allegations of threats and intimidation against Majlis members.

“The frequent intimidation, harassment and attack of MPs as they go about their work have been deeply worrying,” read an IPU press release after the delegation’s visit last November.

After meeting with the IPU earlier this month, union member and MDP MP Eva Abdulla raised concerns over the personal safety of MPs and journalists in the Maldives.

Eva – who has been in personal receipt of threats against both herself and her family members – also received a threat suggesting the MDP’s next gathering would be targeted by suicide bombers.

A subsequent rally held in Addu City was disrupted by youths with wooden planks and rocks before the party’s office in Hithadhoo was set on fire.

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Government and opposition play blame game over Addu attacks

Government and opposition figures have continued to trade accusations this week after the attacks on the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in Addu last weekend.

Speaking at a public ceremony today, Tourism Minister and Progressive Party of Maldives Vice President Ahmed Adeeb claimed that the opposition leadership was “torching buildings and inciting violence”, reported local media.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz has also been accused of suggesting the attacks were coordinated by the MDP, prompting an angry response from Addu’s MDP leadership.

Muaz, who was not responding to calls at the time of press, is reported in local media as saying that creating unrest is unacceptable and that damaging property is not the way to win the love of the public.

Friday’s MDP rally in Feydhoo was attacked by masked men before its headquarters in Hithadhoo were set on fire. The incidents followed a series of arson attacks on the party’s offices and the homes of its member, who have also received persistent death threats.

In a press statement on Monday (October 13), president of the MDP’s Addu City branch, Ahmed Adhuham, condemned Muaz’s allegations, calling them irresponsible and unacceptable coming from the President’s Office.

Meanwhile, MDP chairperson Ali Waheed said in a press conference today that the MDP feels the Home Ministry, alongside Maldives Police Service (MPS), is not doing enough to ensure the protection of the party after the clear threats received.

“We have received numerous threats and all of these threats have been reported to the relevant authorities however we have received a letter from the MPS stating that some of the cases relating threats against MDP have been filed without any investigation,” said Waheed.

Waheed also claimed that the attacks are being carried out by a third party which helped the government come to power but is now stronger than the government.

“I do not believe that a government – which has not been able to implement a single project benefiting the public while having majority in the parliament – would have the need to interfere and attack MDP rallies,” said Waheed.

The MDP has filed cases with independent commissions including Police Integrity Commission, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, and the Elections Commission.

Waheed said the party would not hesitate to involve foreign bodies if the threats were not adequately addressed by the MPS and Home Ministry.

Threats and Attacks

The MDP rally in Feydhoo last week was attacked by a group of masked individuals wielding wooden planks and rocks. 16 people were arrested before being released, with police citing a lack of evidence.

The ruling PPM was quick to condemn the attack, expressing concern that “such acts that harm political parties, public property, and lives”.

“All parties should have the opportunity to carry out political activities peacefully,” read a PPM press release.

Speaking in Fuvahmulah the day after the Addu attacks (October 11), MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed accused the PPM or senior government figures of being behind the attack. Nasheed’s residence in Addu was pelted with stones the following night.

The party’s main office in Malé was set on fire on September 25 after attacks on the two previous nights. Attempts were also made to set MDP parliament member Hamid Abdul Ghafoor’s house on fire.

MDP members and their families have received a large number of death threats from private numbers, with party spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy telling Minivan News last month that the threats had become too frequent to publicise adequately.

On October 5, Nasheed lodged a complaint at the UK Metropolitan Police Service regarding death threats he received while attending the Conservative Party conference.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union has previously described the government’s reaction to threats against elected officials as a test of the country’s democracy.

During a rally held last month in Malé, MDP MP and IPU member Eva Abdulla received a message threatening a suicide attack at the next MDP gathering. The message threatened to kill of MDP members, vowing to ‘fight to the last drop of blood’.

Waheed revealed at the press conference that an MDP rally will be held on October 25 at the carnival area in Malé, saying that MDP will not back down in the face of such threats.

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MDP office set on fire amid escalating tension

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).

Death threats

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.

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Maldivian Democratic Party office vandalised

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) main office on Sosun Magu in the capital Malé was vandalised last night.

A group of people on motorbikes reportedly threw large stones at the office around midnight, smashing the outer windows.

Equipment at the reception area was also damaged. On Monday, the main opposition party asked police to investigate death threats made against its MPs and senior members, who the party said were also being followed.

MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News earlier this week that death threats have become too commonplace to publicise each incident.

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MP death threats too frequent to report to public: MDP spokesman

MPs from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have again reported receiving death threats, with the party reporting messages sent numerous members its parliamentary group members on Thursday.

‘We will kill you all. God is great,’ read the most recent message received by MDP Spokesman Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy on Thursday (September 18).

“As far as I know, MDP PG leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, MP Mariya Didi, former Speaker Abdulla Shahid, Eva Abdulla, PG Deputy Leaders Rozaina Adam and myself, and MP Ali Azim have constantly been receiving death threat SMS’s,” Inthi told Minivan News today.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has also received similar messages, said Inthi.

“We live in fear,” he added.

The growing culture of death threats has crossed the political divide, with Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim the most high profile figure to receive such intimidation.

The JP has publicly accused political opponents of being behind the threats, which they have suggested are being sent using online phone duplicating software. The MDP has accused the government of failing to utilise its resources to find the culprits.

Journalists from outlets affiliated with both pro-government opposition parties have also been in receipt of threatening messages, prompting international concern.

Inthi revealed today that he had even received a threat after submitting a motion in the Majlis to discuss the missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan last month.

“On the day I submitted the early day motion to Majlis about Rilwan case, I received an SMS to say ‘mind your business or else we will have to slit your throat’,” said Inthi.

Police have been working with local telecommunications companies to trace the messages, though the Communications Authority of Maldives has noted that threats sent from abroad or online are difficult to trace.

Discussing the problem today, the Maafannu North MP noted that such messages were becoming so commonplace that the party had ceased to publicise each and every incident.

“We have officially lodged these cases with the police, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives and the Majlis long ago but no action seems to have been taken by the authorities,” said Inthi.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) noted last month that the official reaction to these threats would be a test of the country’s democratic credentials.

“IPU is deeply concerned by these acts of intimidation against MPs in a country where many parliamentarians have been victims of attacks, harassment and arbitrary arrests in recent years,” read a statement from the organisation.

“[T]he authorities’ response to the threats and their capacity to promote, with the help of the opposition, real inclusiveness and political dialogue will be a litmus test for the democratic process in the Maldives,” said IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong.

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