All women arrested at Anbaraa island festival transferred to house arrest

Yesterday evening, police transferred all the women taken into custody at the Anbaraa music festival to house arrest.

Nineteen women were amongst the 79 people arrested on suspicion of being under the influence, and in possession of, illegal drugs on Friday (April 18).

An official from the Home Ministry told online newspaper CNM that the women were transferred to house arrest due to a lack of space in detention centres and difficulties in catering for them.

He told the paper that they were all transferred under the authority held by the home minister. He further noted that the court warrant to extend their detention period stated that they should be detained in a place determined by the Home Ministry.

Meanwhile former President and acting president of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Mohamed Nasheed told press yesterday that, while the police told the court everyone arrested had tested positive to illegal drugs, he had information that they had not all been tested when they were summoned to the Criminal Court to have their detention extended on Saturday (April 19) .

Nasheed said that the only situation where police should raid any place in the manner they did, is when their lives were at risk or if the police believed they might be attacked when trying to arrest a person.

The opposition leader said that he did not understand the reason why police had to raid an island firing rubber bullets and shouting when its inhabitants were a group of young people entertaining themselves.

Nasheed also alleged that, after raiding the island, police officers handcuffed all the young people and went fishing.

He repeated the allegations he previously made against Tourism Minister and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Deputy Leader Ahmed Adheeb and said that he was one of the event organisers.

Nasheed suggested a cross-cabinet plan in which it is one minister’s duty was to gather all the young people to one place while the other minister’s duty could be arresting all of them at once.

The PPM have described Nasheed’s comments as an “uncivilised” attempt to sabotage the implementation of its youth manifesto as well as the other youth development efforts of the government.

The Maldives Police Service yesterday denied allegations by the opposition MDP that constitutional rights and procedures were violated in the arrest made in Anbaraa.

The MDP’s rights committee has contended that procedures specified in the constitution for arrest or detention – such as informing suspects of the reasons in writing within 24 hours, providing access to legal counsel, and presenting suspects before a judge within 24 hours for a remand hearing – were breached by the police.

Moreover, the committee alleged that police did not act in accordance with regulations governing the exercise of law enforcement powers concerning arrest and detention.

Last weekend police searched 198 persons and arrested 79, including one minor, during a music festival on Anbaraa island in Vaavu atoll.

Home Minister Umar Naseer the following day in a tweet said that law will be enforced without any exemptions, writing that “anybody can party but no drugs on the menu.’’


Week in review: April 13 – 19

The disposal of around 120 animals confiscated from people’s homes stole the headlines this week, amid confusion as to why the decision to destroy the animals was made, and by which institution.

As part of a joint operation conducted on Saturday (April 12), relevant government authorities instructed police to confiscate all pets suspected of having been illegally imported.

These animals were promptly destroyed by the MNDF, while the fate of the slow loris – endangered in more ways than one – remained unclear as interested adoptees continued to face financial and bureaucratic obstacles.

Bureaucratic obstacles continued to hinder President Abdulla Yameen’s attempts to place his nephew in the role of Prosecutor General as the Majlis failed to return enough votes to approve Maumoon Hameed’s nomination.

Home Minister Umar Naseer this week lamented the ‘oversized democracy inherited by the government, suggesting bureaucracy was thwarting his anti-drug camaign.

The government’s attempts to centralise control of the nation’s mosques through amendments to the Religious Unity Act met with greater successful as the president ratified the changes shortly before departing to Japan on an official state visit.

Prior to boarding the plane to Tokyo, Yameen told the press that he had been unable – and unwilling – to meet the demands of Indian company GMR for an out-of-court settlement regarding the terminated airport development deal.

It was revealed that the government will now await the outcome of the arbitration proceedings, expected within the next two months after hearings concluded this week.

Yameen’s trip to east Asia saw the Japanese government thanked for its generous history of developmental assistance in the Maldives as well an open invitation for private investors to continue the tradition.

Back on the home front, President Yameen acknowledged that the distribution of government positions among coalition partners had generated some tension, after rumblings of discontent from coalition leader Gasim Ibrahim.

No such discontent was found in a survey conducted by the Tourism Ministry this month which found 98 percent of tourists would recommend the Maldives as a holiday destination.

Eighty percent of those surveyed reported having holidayed within an hour of the capital Malé, a trend Addu City Council hopes to change with the establishment of a guest house promotion board in the country’s southernmost atoll.

The heavy concentration of tourists in Kaafu atoll brought the opposite response from Malé City Council, who passed a resolution opposing the development of Kuda Bandos – the only local picnic island available to the overcrowded capital’s residents.

Meanwhile, the Department of Heritage hopes to draw the attention of visitors to the Maldives’ cultural treasures, organising an exhibition of the country’s coral mosques as attempts to make UNESCO’s world heritage list continue.

The Ministry of Environment maintained that the country’s natural heritage can still be preserved if the world commits to a 1.5°C cap on global temperature rise, with Minister Thoriq Ibrahim pledging to increase renewable energy to 30% in the next 5 years.

Elsewhere, the High Court is now considering over a dozen election-related complaints following last month’s Majlis poll – though the arguments posited by Kaashidhoo MP Abdulla Jabir received short shrift from the Elections Commission’s lawyer.

Jabir’s Maldivian Democratic Party announced it would hold an event to mark Labour Day next month while taxi drivers failed to present a united front in protests against new regulations due to be implemented this week.

DhiFM remained steadfast in its defiance of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission – responding to criticism for posting upside down pictures by posting a similar image of the commission’s chair.

Corruption charges were pressed this week against controversial Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed, while the Anti Corruption Commission asked the state to pursue charges against a former state minister for undue expenditure on sports activities.

Minivan News also took time this week to talk discuss the future of hydroponics in the country’s agriculture as well as interviewing the Maldives’ first female DJ.


200 searched and 79 arrested at music festival in Maldives

Seventy-nine individuals have been arrested with large amounts of drugs and cash after police raided the OTUM music festival last night (April 18).*

Police have revealed that 59 males and 19 females were arrested – with an underage girl and a foreign male included in the group.

The festival, which was organised by The Underground Movement collective, was a two day event on Anbaraa, Vaavu atoll – an uninhabited island around an hour and a half south of Malé.

A source who was as the event told Minivan News that a large group of police officers suddenly raided the island and made everyone lie on the ground before handcuffing them.

Haveeru has reported that the rest of those initially detained were released after testing negative for illegal substances.

According to one source, an estimated 60 people have been arrested and are being taken to Atolhuvehi, a custodial centre in Malé.

The remaining people who were searched and tested negative for illicit substances have been released, according to the source.

In addition, a local lawyer who wished to stay anonymous has informed Minivan News that he had gone to Athuluvehi at around midday today (April 19), which time the Police did not have any record of the detainees on their system.

“During that time they ought to have access to counsel but you don’t. If someone from Malé was to contact the police about a person detained, they would have no record of them”

“Normally you’d think the point of arrest would be as soon as the police retrains or detains you in any form – from what I’ve heard , most of them or all of them have been handcuffed and had their possessions searched and have been asked for body samples.”

“From what I hear, they may have been taken into custody – may be taken to court at 7:30pm as it’s a saturday. Only at 4pm the police will decide who will be arrested and processed,” the lawyer explained.

Additionally, the source explained that police cannot search people unless they have reason to believe that they are under the influence. He added that there were currently three lawyers working on the case, and will be meeting with the arrested people in the coming hours.

“We will be going to the custodial centre now,” he stated. “They will most likely get charged under the drugs act.”

Prior to the arrests, a local DJ Angie – who was set to perform at the festival – had told Minivan News that OTUM was a rare opportunity for local musicians to showcase their talents and play music they are passionate about.

OTUM had stated that they have a strict no alcohol policy: “Bouncers will check you when you board the ferry for any possession of sharp objects & any illegal substances,” read the event’s guidelines.

*A previous version of this article – published prior to police releasing official figures – gave an estimated total of 60 arrests following discussion with witnesses and lawyers.


Making tracks: The Maldives’ first female DJ

‘We don’t need a female Maldivian DJ,’ Angie recalls her first rejection from a local DJ agency.

“They didn’t even check how I played, if I was good or bad, nothing. Just the fact that I’m a female and Maldivian they could decide that they don’t want me.”

While the music scene in the Maldives is growing, for a young DJ wishing to enter the DJ circuit, the venues to play are still few and far between. Throw into the equation that you are the first female Maldivian DJ ever to formally graduate, and there are an entirely new set of hurdles to cross if you are to make your name.

“In 2008, I decided that this was what I wanted to do.” says 26 year-old Aminath Fazleena Abbas, also known as Angie. “Even when I did the course I didn’t realise that I was the only girl, I didn’t think that was possible.”

Angie is originally from Malé, the capital of the Maldives. After travelling abroad to study Electronic Music Production in Thailand, it wasn’t until her return that she realised she was the first woman in the Maldives to do so, she explained.

“I think it’s sad, ” she said. “I’m sure there are plenty of girls that have an interest, but due to the cultural and religious side of Maldives they are unable to do it.”

With no formal clubs in the capital, DJs often get work by playing on nearby islands – either on tourist resorts or at private parties. However, competition for these DJ slots are high – with a few agencies monopolising many of the contracts.

“When I first started in 2013 I didn’t have any contacts – no-one – so I just called resorts from the Visit Maldives group. Most of the answers were that ‘we didn’t need DJs in this resort because they had contracts with different organisations.’ ”

One such reply was particularly blunt: “They sent me a reply after a few weeks, ‘we don’t need a female Maldivian DJ’,” recalled Angie.

“That really demotivated me, since they were the main people. They didn’t even check how I played, if I was good or bad, nothing, just the fact that I’m a female and Maldivian they could decide that they don’t want me.”

“Once we join these organisations, more than 50 percent of what the resort pays go to the organisation, and the DJ gets payed 50 percent or less. So they really don’t like it when someone is around and they are doing it on their own – they want their people to go so they will get the money.”

After some time calling around and working hard, she landed a contract with a local agency and began playing gigs at a nearby resort. However, not everything has been easy since forming the new partnership.

“Normally the resort staff are really nice, it’s just the organisers – people who are fighting for the money. They want to know – is this oriented for them?”

“The pay differs, mostly US$200/300 per night, but when you come to 3-star it will be like US$100. I have once gone to a resort, and I got payed US$75. But since I was new – since I didn’t have experience – I didn’t know any better. I took the money, I just wanted the experience.”

Not only was there an issue with the pay, Angie continued, but also the music had to be compromised in order to land gigs with certain resorts.

“I like to play deep house, minimal, trance, techno, dub,” Angie explains, “But you can’t do it here in the Maldives, because you can’t get places to play.”

“When I did the New Year 2013 gig, I mixed up music that I preferred into it, and it didn’t turn out well. Most of the resorts don’t want that. Because for those who don’t like this kind of music they don’t want to hear it – they want to hear the old – really old – retro kind of music.”

“That was the first time I realised, ‘okay, I have to change to play what they want me to play’. So I did that at first – but now I don’t want to do that anymore, because I can find – though very few – resorts where I can play deep house and I can keep to the range of genres that I like.”

The opportunity for local DJs to play music they are passionate about often comes at parties organised on private islands.

“There are private islands, there I can play deep house, tech house, minimal. They are not looking for people to come and dance, they want good music in the bar at night, so I love that place because I can play the kind of music I want to play.”

Local festivals also provide a place for Angie to play her preferred genres of deep house and minimal. O.T.U.M, Angie explains, is a two-day festival set up by a collective of local DJs and artists called The Underground Movement.

According to the Underground Movement’s statement, “It is important to appreciate that the motive behind such a series of gatherings goes beyond mere merry-making and the fulfillment of a badly neglected need for entertainment.”

Set on a nearby local island, this two-stage festival gives local acts the chance to play to a crowd just for the love of music, without seeking a huge profit.

Angie will be playing at the pioneering festival alongside an eclectic line-up of DJs, with some travelling from Sri Lanka and India, and representing the cutting edge Maldivian dance music scene.

“Let’s say it [the music scene] is getting better, slowly,” says Angie. “Slowly, but it’s happening now.”


Young people set new tone for Male’ party scene

Hundreds turned out yesterday for the Maldives Surfing Entertainment Surf Show near the tsunami memorial, perusing merchandise by day and dancing to music by local and guest DJs late into the night.

The event, which runs September 16 and 17, was organised by Maldives Surfing Entertainment. Sport clothing companies Sea Sports, Sony Sports, and Round-Up displayed their wares in tents evoking the minimalist surf shack atmosphere.

The surf show sign posted on the outside wall of the event site

Maldives Surfing Association Event Organiser Mohamed Shabeen was optimistic about the event, which is the first in an annual series of surf shows.

“The goal was to raise awareness of surfing culture. Surfing has been picking up lately, more young people are coming out and we have had good feedback on the show so far,” said Shabeen.

Shabeen said that local groups were supportive of the initiative. “This wall you see here is not normally allowed, but we were allowed to build it for the event,” he said, pointing at the wooden barrier that demarcates the area as a festival space.

Set-up for the event was done by approximately 40 local surfers over three days, said Shabeen. The set-up includes surf board displays, plant decorations, and a light and sound system for the evening concerts.

While the surf show attracted families and children during the day, youth turned out in swarms for the concert at night. The show featured trance and techno music in sync with light displays and fog machines. DJs regularly called out to the crowd below, “Are we having a good time? This is a new era, we are here to celebrate!”

The crowd cheers as DJs shout out from the sound booth

DJs and staff noted that this is the first time an outdoor rave has been held on Male in some time, and said most parties take place on a smaller, more subdued scale.

“What do you say when you just want to go ‘AHHHH!!’?” said one concert-goer. “That is how we feel right now, this is our outlet, we are finally able to express ourselves out here and have a good time.”

Others suggested that religious conservatism on Male’ has kept the youth from celebrating in public, and said they hoped that events such as the surf show would be held more often.

The event was organised by Maldives Surf Entertainment Director and Surf Guide Ahmed Azniel. Shabeen said he hopes this weekend’s surf will garner attention for a surfing contest to be held in November at South Foahmulaku, in honor of the 17th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.

Correction: The article previously stated that the 2011 Surf Show was a cooperative event between Maldives Surf Entertainment and Maldives Surfing Association. It should have read, “The event, which runs September 16 and 17, was organised by Maldives Surfing Entertainment.”

Correction: The article previously stated “The event was organised by Maldives Surf Entertainment Director and Surf Guide Mohamed Azniel. It should have read, “The event was organised by Maldives Surf Entertainment Director and Surf Guide Ahmed Azniel.”


Huvafen grooves to Charles Schillings beats

A sense of anticipation filled the air. Dozens of stars twinkled in the sky, while lamps hanging from the trees and soft lighting at the tables gave the beach of Huvafen Fushi a warm glow last Friday.

People lounged about in the ultra comfortable seats, casting glances at the DJ console standing almost at the edge of the deck that stretches out to the sea.

At Huvafen Fushi, a luxury retreat managed by Per AQUUM Retreats, high end luxury and top notch service blends with the stunning natural beauty of the island.

World Famous French DJ Charles Schillings is the star of the evening. Dressed casually in a black T-shirt and cut-off jeans, Schillings arrived, stopping to chat with those present along the way.

Despite being one of the top names in the world of DJing, and with three self-produced albums to his name, Schillings comes across as an extremely down to earth guy, interacting with those who stop by his console, and grooving to the music he plays.

Artists as diverse as Prince, Jackson 5, Lenny Krevitz, Dustry Springfield, Black Eyed Peas and Beatles are played alongside lesser known names.

He blends different genres and different epoques of music as effortlessly as a master weaver would weave a tapestry.

Under the starry night DJ Schillings played, giving a whole new ambience to the island resort.

Minivan News obtained an exclusive interview with DJ Schillings.

Aishath Shazra (AS): When did you first become interested in music?

Charles Schillings (CS): I was watching a Jackson 5 cartoon back in the 70s and a DJ was performing and Michael Jackson was dancing to his tunes. I was nine then and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

AS: Which musicians have influenced you over the years?

CS: I grew up listening to various genres of music and bands, and especially the ones from the early 1980s from the post-Punk period. I was mostly inspired by Talking Heads, Shriekback, Depeche Mode, Karftwerk and the Jackson 5.

AS: You are renowned for reading the pulse of the audience, and your ability to keep them on the floor – what’s your secret?

CS: I keep the venue, the party’s theme and the surroundings in mind. I also experiment with different genres depending on the mood of the crowd. The most important thing is to see and gauge the crowd’s reaction and then zero in on the music I want to play! Funky and groovy elements with a lot of contemporary tunes.

I am also not afraid to surprise my audience as inside my music people may find a beat or a sound to relate to. Watching people move their shoulders tell me a lot too!

AS: Are you familiar with any Maldivian music, and if so, what are the chances of it (Maldivian music) making it into your playlist, or one of your mixes?

CS: I’ve been to Huvafen Fushi for the last four years now and I’ve been introduced to the beats of the Bodu Beru. I find this really the most interesting cultural expression of music and would love to work with it one day. I have heard of Zero Degrees too, but have never met them in person.

AS: You have said Maldives is one of your favourite places to perform, why is that?

CS: Huvafen Fushi is like my second home. Performing in the Maldives is like nothing else out there. I’m closest to the people here, it’s very personal and I have amazing interaction with the crowd. I also play under the stars with the beach literally at my feet, so I’m not complaining!

AS: Having played all over the world, do audience expectations vary in different cities? Where would you say is the best place to DJ?

CS: It’s not the place really that defines an expectations. It’s the crowd, the people that attend my parties that makes the difference. It’s their harmony and my music that brings it all together. So no matter where I am, being with my audience is the best place to be.

AS: Being a sound designer to Karl Lagerfield, spinning for famous designer’s events, to playing at hip clubs around the world, to playing in front of thousands in cities like Tokyo, and London, what has been your most memorable event so far?

CS: Actually, one day while mixing at a Karl Lagerfeld fashion show, I was asked to allow someone into my DJ booth. Now, that is a request I usually entertain. But I agreed this time and to my surprise, it was Mick Jagger! He stayed with me for the whole show.

Kylie Minogue also requested a song from me when I was playing at Dita Von Teese’ birthday last year, that’s definitely memorable. But the most memorable to date is when I met my girlfriend, Sophie, at Lotus in New York eight years ago.

AS: You’ve been DJing, compiling albums, producing and making your own songs, and now producing the soundtrack for a sci-fi movie. What’s next?

CS: I would really like to mix the soundtrack to a big Hollywood movie.

AS: How would you describe your latest album “Like a Radio”? How’re are you feeling about it?

CS: ‘Like a Radio’ has many firsts for my, my first experience with pop, working with only one vocal was also a first for me and it was also my very first double album. 14 tracks on the first CD and 14 remixes of the tracks on the other. It’s really quite interesting to hear how the tracks sound on radio and the remix sound at a party.