Eight gangsters threaten MDP protesters with knives, vandalise lorry and speaker systems

Eight gangsters wielding knives threatened opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members and vandalised the party’s lorry and speaker systems ahead of a protest last night.

Eyewitnesses told Minivan News, eight young men allegedly belonging to Malé’s gangs, charged into a group of 20 protesters with knives at around 9:00pm, threatened them and shattered the windows of a lorry and speaker systems that were to be used for the night’s protests.

The gangsters shouted, “You cannot do this, this is our country too!”

The MDP has held daily protests since February 10, first against President Abdulla Yameen’s alleged constitutional violations and later against the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail for terrorism on March 13. The MDP has since pledged to launch a national civil disobedience campaign to free the party’s leader.

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP member Aisha Hussain Rasheed said the group threatened former MP Ibrahim “Bonda” Rasheed with a knife, telling him to stay back as they shattered the windows of the lorry carrying the sound system.

An MDP member took a picture of the gangsters, but they chased him down, took his camera from him and broke it.

A police van arrived on the scene, and police arrested one of the attackers, Aisha said.

“We told the police, please protect us, we are also Maldivian citizens. This is your country too, why won’t you do anything? The police, however said, ‘What are we supposed to do?’ Then they left,” she said.

Another eyewitness said a forensic team came ten minutes later and took pictures.


A police media official declined to comment on the incident, but said no arrests were made last night.

The MDP issued a statement today condemning the police’s inaction, noting the attacks happened in public and were documented through photos and videos.

“The police are obliged by law to protect peaceful protesters. We note with great concern that police have failed to take action even as such groups continue to repeatedly attack MDP protests and destroy our property,” the statement said.

A group of young men had attacked MDP protesters on February 27, and cut off opposition-aligned Raajje TV’s live feed. Protesters on March 13 also reported that a group of young men threatened MDP supporters with box cutters and threw crude oil on protesters.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has also held numerous rallies in support of the government and calling for a speedy sentence in Nasheed’s terrorism trial.

The opposition has alleged hundreds of Malé’s gangsters attend the government rallies, a claim the PPM has denied.

Minivan News has observed several young men who had been charged with murder at the front lines of pro-government rallies on March 7 and February 19. Three young men seen in the front-lines of PPM bike rally on March 7 included one charged with the murder of 15-year-old Ahmed Shaneed in 2008 and two charged with the 2012 murder of 33-year-old Ali Shifan. They were all acquitted by the Criminal Court.

Speaking after the rally, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb called on the opposition to stop its nightly protests.

“Don’t make us take to the streets. These are Malé City’s youth. This is a very strong crowd. If these young men get angry it would not be good. That’s why we are with these young men in their homes. We are people who love peace, so don’t make us come out to the street,” Adeeb warned, according to Sun Online.

“We won’t give him [President Nasheed] anymore chances. You [the opposition] will also have to go home. Then we will also quietly stay home,” he added.

MDP subsequently condemned Adeeb’s speech and accused him of threatening the opposition with violence.

“MDP is alarmed by the threats of violence against opposition protesters, made by senior members of President Yameen’s administration,” a statement issued by the party on March 8 read.

“This is a desperate and dangerous escalation of the current crisis by the government. President Yameen’s administration is baring its fangs,” spokesperson for MDP, Hamid Abdul Gafoor said at the time.

Related to this story

MDP to launch national civil disobedience campaign to free Nasheed

Defence Minister Jaleel leads “Sentence Nasheed now” motorbike rally

10,000 protest in Malé, call for President Yameen’s resignation

Hundreds march in support of President Yameen


Hundreds march in support of President Yameen

With additional reporting by Ismail Humam Hamid and Mohamed Saif Fathih

Hundreds of young men marched in support of President Abdulla Yameen in Malé today.

The approximately 400-strong march consisted mostly of young men wearing pink headbands and carrying placards praising President Yameen and ridiculing opposition leaders Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Gasim Ibrahim of the Jumhooree Party (JP).

Supporters carried placards alleging Gasim and Nasheed had “gone mad with the desire for power,” that Gasim “had destroyed the economy” during his tenure as finance minister, and that Nasheed had called on youth to “remain intoxicated” during his three year presidential term.

Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) Deputy Leader and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb organised the rally after nightly opposition protests in which the MDP and JP alleged the ruling party had repeatedly breached the constitution.

Adeeb, PPM Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ahmed Nihan, MPs Yamin Rasheed, Ibrahim ‘Wadde’ Waheed, Abdulla ‘Bochey’ Rifau and Ahmed Ameeth led the walk from Artificial Beach through Malé’s main thoroughfare, Majeedhee Magu.

The walk comes ahead of two major events due to take place tonight, a PPM rally at Alimas Carnival and an opposition walk starting from Usfasgandu in Malé at 8:30 pm.

“President for youth”

Speaking to Minivan News, Youth Ministry Coordinator Ali Shahid ‘Steps Ayya’ said he had always supported President Yameen both during his parliamentary career and as president.

“The Maldivian youth are with President Yameen. He has always shown the way for the youth. The youth do not want to go to jail. They want hope and stability,” he said.

Ihusaan Hussein, 27, said Yameen’s government is a government for the youth, and he had come to the march to stand against the opposition’s attempts to create political unrest. He called on the opposition to “come to the table and talk.”

One of the few women at the rally, Madheeha, 29, said President Yameen offers development and progress for all youth.

MP Nihan said the opposition were fooling the Maldives’ youth, pointing to Nasheed’s alliance with Gasim, the same man he had called a traitor for playing a key role in his ouster in February 2012.

Yameen had promised to focus on the youth during his campaign, pledging to build a youth city with state-of-the-art sports facilities in Hulhumalé. On assuming office, Yameen erased over 2,000 criminal records of young people to allegedly facilitate employment for youth hindered by police records.

Pickup arrest

Meanwhile, the Maldives Police Services this morning arrested two men aboard a pickup allegedly advertising the opposition rally tonight. They were Ahmed ‘Eagle’ Shareef and Abdulla ‘Tintin’ Rasheed. The police also confiscated the pickup and its speaker system.

The allied opposition parties subsequently held a press conference at JP headquarters, Maafanu Kunooz, where MDP MP Ahmed Falah accused the government of obstructing the right to free speech and assembly.

However, a police spokesperson told Minivan News the two men had been calling for protestors to gather near the High Court, an area in which protests are prohibited.

JP Council Member Ali Hameed said the opposition was not seeking a confrontation with the government.

“The JP and MDP represent 75 percent of the Maldivian population. If the government is thinking of going into a confrontation, please think again. We do not seek a confrontation,” he said.

MDP Malé City Councillor Shamau Shareef claimed the government was using gangs to intimidate political opponents while Falah accused Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports Naif Shaukath of assaulting a JP supporter.

Minivan News was unable to reach Shaukath at the time of press, while Youth Ministry’s Coordinator Ali Shahid said the opposition was linking the government to gangsters “because they cannot stomach the work President Yameen is doing for the youth and the development of the Maldives.”

Meanwhile, the Maldives Police Services held a press conference at noon urging all parties to exercise the freedom to assemble within the bounds of the Freedom of Assembly Act, and warned police would not hesitate to “take appropriate measures to ensure public peace, safety and harmony.”

Two men were arrested from opposition protests at the junction of Chaandhanee and Fareedhee Magu last night.

Related to this story

Nasheed defends coalition with former rivals

Opposition street demonstrations head into third consecutive night

Opposition alliance a “waste of time”, says Gayoom

Gasim defiant as opposition sign agreement to defend Constitution

Civil Court orders halt to seizure of lands allocated to Gasim’s Villa company


Young men carrying box cutters attack protestors demanding free water

A group carrying box cutters on Tuesday attacked protestors demanding free water in Malé.

Minivan News observed five young men run into the a group of protestors at the junction of Sosun Magu and Medhuziyarai Magu at 10:00 pm, jump onto a truck carrying speakers and vandalize the generator and speakers system.

The protesters were calling on the government to provide free water and reverse its decision to only deduct 30 percent from water bills as Malé’s water crisis enters it’s seventh day.

After vandalizing the speaker system, the attackers ran into the crowd attacking everyone in their path. An elderly woman was punched and thrown to the ground and an elderly man was hit in the face. He suffered a cut to the head.

The woman was immediately taken to the Maldives Red Crescent water crisis headquarters at Majeeedhihyaa School for immediate treatment. She was later transferred to ADK Hospital along with the elderly man for further treatment.

Police officers and some protesters chased the attackers. Police arrested two, while angry protesters caught one more and beat him up severely. The police had to carry the attacker away.

A police media official told Minivan News the three arrested last night are all under eighteen. Two have since been released.

A police officer also sustained injuries to his mouth and nose as he attempted to arrest the attackers.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Youth Wing President and senior organizer of the protests, Mohamed Azmeel, said between six and seven gangsters armed with box cutter blades initiated the attack. Minivan News saw the blades on the street after the police arrested three of the attackers.

One protestor told Minivan News that he saw the attackers videoing those who spoke at the protest in order to target key protestors before they attacked

Gangsters also vandalized placards used in the free water protest on the previous night (Decemeber 8).

Azmeel said the rally will continue tonight.

Meanwhile, gang involvement has been speculated behind the torching of the MDP main office on September 29 using molotov cocktails after it was also vandalized on September 24.

Early October, an MDP office in Addu City was torched while masked men wielding wooden planks and batons attacked a party rally. 16 people were arrested that night however the police released nine of them the following day.


Police sweeps arresting innocents, say gang members

Police had arrested 25 gangsters in an special operation police conducted to avoid gang violence in Male’ and make the city peaceful.

In a press conference yesterday, police noted that gangsters in Male’ were becoming more coordinated “and there has been a corresponding rise in planned and organised crime.”

Deputy commissioner of police Mohamed Rilwan revealed in a press conference yesterday that gangs had been observed adapting to police tactics and becoming more sophisticated in their approach to crime.

Rilwan said that when police raided gang areas and the houses of gang members during the recent crackdown, they found stashes of weapons and other items. These included knives, masks, mobile phones, toy guns, box cutters, watches and sunglasses.

Rilwan promised that police would make Male’ peaceful and ensure gangsters had “no more chances” to commit crime in the country.

During last week’s special operation against gang crime, police arrested 25 suspects including Ahmed Nafiz [Chika], Ahmed Rizam, Shifau Abdul Waheed [Shifa], Mohamed Ahusan [Ahu], Mohamed Aswad [Maxy], Hussein Razeen, Ahmed Shaz, Hassan Ali [Hassu], Adam Ziyad, Ahmed Husham, Ahmed Shiruhan [Shiru], Hussein Alwan, Ahsan Basheer, Ahmed Ismail [Ahandhu], Fahud Ibrahim, Fazeel Hameed, Ahmed Muaz, Rilwan Faruhath [Ilu].

Political connections

Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair expressed concern that “some of the politicians use gangsters for political reasons.”

”It is not acceptable for politicians to use any other tool than words,” he said.

He said the gang situation in the city had worsened “because of the failed educational policies of the former government.”

”I am very confident that the police will make this a peaceful city,” he said.

A gang member calling himself ‘IJ’ told Minivan News that police had arrested “many innocent people” during the special operation.

”It’s okay to arrest people who are connected with a case they are investigating,” he said, ”but it was really bad that police arrested innocent people among us.”

He said the police were “arresting anyone they feel like, and keeping them in custody for a long period of time.”

As a result, the prisoners were “given a bad reputation and encouraged to become involved in crime.”

He said that it was good that police were making Male’ peaceful, “as people are afraid to walk the streets.”

”Gangs are not afraid of the streets, the only fear for us is the police,” he said.

He said he hoped police would show professionalism when they raided more streets in Male’, “and arrest only guilty people.”

Another gang member told Minivan News that the police could not make the the streets peaceful as long as he was there.

He said the police were arresting friends of criminals, “making their parents think they were also criminals. ”

”If someone visits us to play cards and chat, police would arrest him too,” he said. ”Then people think he’s also a gangster, so he gets angry and changes himself into one.”

He claimed that they had fought police “many times. They come and disturb us even if we were sitting to chat,” he said, ”which makes us angry and want to go against them. Then they arrest all of us.”

He said the police had confiscated a lot of gang property, including sofas and chairs which they had bought.

“The gangs are not gathering to do crimes, just to sit down and chat with friends,” he said.

Sub Inspector of police Ahmed Shiyam said the police were checking and arresting anyone they suspected of gang involvement, and acknowledged that sometimes people who were not gang members had been arrested.

Even though those arrested might get bad reputations, “there is no other way due to the situation in the country,” he said.