Weapons, alcohol and petrol bottles planted to disrupt peaceful protests, says MDP

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has claimed weapons, alcohol and petrol bottles found by the police during opposition protests over the weekend were planted to disrupt peaceful protests.

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz described the weapons find as “an attempt to instil fear among the public.”

On Friday, Specialist Operations (SO) police officers claimed to have found knives, daggers and iron rods in a gunny bag hidden among the trees at Usfasgandu, minutes before the MDP and Jumhooree Party-led (JP) demonstration started.

Later that night, on a live blog covering the mass protests, police claimed to have found a cardboard box containing four bottles of whiskey and one bottle of vodka on the pavement outside the Islamic Bank at 7pm.

Last night, the police also found six bottles containing petrol hidden in a pickup, a few blocks from an opposition protest.

“It is well known that police do these kinds of things to disperse peaceful gatherings,” Shifaz said.

A police spokesperson said they are conducting a forensic analysis of the weapons discovered at Usfasgandu, and said it was “not possible to say whether there is any link between the protesters and the weapons right now.”

Over 10,000 people attended Friday’s opposition rally. Protesters called for former President Mohamed Nasheed, former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim and MDP MP Ali Azim’s release. Nasheed and Nazim are in jail until the conclusion of a terrorism trial while Azim was arrested from a protest last week.

Friday’s protest ended unexpectedly at 6pm, but hundreds continued scattered protests in Malé calling for Nasheed’s release.

Gang disruption

At 8:00pm a group of young men barged into the crowd, attacked protesters and journalists and vandalised opposition-aligned Raajje TV’s equipment, cutting off the station’s live feed for 20 minutes. Some of the young men had their faces covered.

Shifaz said the young men were “gangsters” and were working alongside the police to disrupt the protests.

“People in the crowd heard the police saying to the attackers ‘why didn’t you leave before we came.’ This is not hearsay. Both protesters and journalists who covered the event heard this,” he alleged.

Some protesters told Minivan News that police arrested the attackers while others said the police arrested the protesters who had tried to obstruct the attackers.

Speaking to the press on Saturday, Superintendent of Police Hamdhoon Rasheed said the police had observed several people attacking protesters.

“We know that some men went into the crowd and disrupted the protests. We are investigating the matter now,” Hamdhoon said.

The police arrested 28 people from the protest, and 10 have been remanded for 10 days. Former MDP President, Dr Ibrahim Didi, is among the detainees in police custody.

A police spokesperson told Minivan News today that “a number of people who tried to disrupt the protest” are among the ten who were remanded.

Dismissing the opposition’s allegations, the police said: “It does not make sense that people who are assigned to protect the people are also attacking them.”

Former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim has also accused the police of planting weapons at his apartment in order to frame him. The police have denounced the former minister’s claims.

The opposition has long accused the government of illicit connections with Malé’s gangs, especially after Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb led a march of 400 young men through the streets of Malé on February 19.

Adeeb has denied the claims, while ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) supporters insist the opposition’s allegations stem from the lack of youth support for the opposition.

MP Ahmed Mahloof, expelled from the PPM last week for speaking out against the government, said he had been receiving threats from gangsters since his dismissal from the party.

“I have been receiving threats from members of gangs for the past three nights after I spoke against President Abdulla Yameen. But I will not step back in fear,” the Galholu North MP tweeted on Friday.

JP Deputy Leader Ameen Ibrahim yesterday said many ruling party MPs had communicated their desire to join the opposition, but were scared due to intimidation.

“The most secure platform is that of the people. And we, MDP and JP, now hold that platform. The citizens will protect you,” he said.

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Police deny brutalising Nasheed

The Maldives Police Services have denied former President Mohamed Nasheed was brutalised when he was escorted into the Criminal Court yesterday.

Speaking to the press last night, Superintendent of Police Hamdhoon Rasheed said the opposition leader had staged a fall, and that his arms and fingers were not injured as he had claimed in the courtroom.

“When he fell and started to show resistance, the police attempted to ensure he received no injuries in taking him inside the courtroom,” he said.

Nasheed appeared in court for a terrorism trial with his arm in a makeshift sling. The opposition leader asked for immediate medical attention and right to legal counsel.

He had been arrested on Sunday on a court order that claimed he might abscond from the terrorism trial scheduled for the next day. Nasheed is being re-prosecuted on terrorism charges over the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi placed Nasheed in detention until the end of the trial and gave him three days to appoint a lawyer and answer charges.

Superintendent Rasheed also alleged politicians were calling up individual police officers and offering “large amounts of money” as bribes to carry out “certain activities” and leak information on investigations.


Nasheed had arrived at the Justice Building at 4:00pm under a heavy Specialist Operations (SO) police guard. When journalists attempted to question the former president, SO officers surrounded and manhandled him.

Minivan News journalists observed Nasheed repeatedly asking the police to pull back, saying he will walk into the court room on his own accord.

Nasheed fell down and his shirt was torn in the process.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) issued a statement last night condemning police brutality against the party’s president, claiming President Abdulla Yameen had directed the police’s actions.

“Police physically injured Nasheed when they took him into the Criminal Court on Presidents Yameen’s administration’s orders following his unlawful he was arrested against the constitution, regulations and international standards in making arrests,” the statement read.

Speaking at a press conference last night, MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed said that the party’s leadership was extremely worried over the former president’s safety.

MDP’s Vice Chairman Ali Shiyam had shared concerns with the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, he said.

“President Nasheed urges people to cross the boundary of fear and to come out on February 27,” Waheed said.


Speaking on TVM’s “Maldives Today” programme last night, Presidential Affairs Minister Mohamed ‘Mundhu’ Hussein Shareef accused Nasheed of playing “stunts” in order to get international media attention and said such incidents tarnished Maldives’ image.

He claimed the government was not under any international pressure, saying expressions of concern by international organizations and foreign countries “do not amount to pressure.”

Nasheed as commander-in-chief had “kidnapped” Judge Abdulla Mohamed, Mundhu said, arguing: “When the case begins in a court, how can it be called a political act in a society that believes offenders must be tried?”

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, speaking alongside Mundhu, said President Yameen would not interfere with the Prosecutor General’s Office or the judiciary.

“We are not like President Nasheed’s administration. We would not lock up the Supreme Court or the Majlis or disappear politicians. In our administration, the police will not act without a court order,” the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ deputy leader said.

“In a democratic environment with separation of powers, how can we influence the other power,” he said.

Nasheed must be tried and penalized to ensure justice is done to Judge Abdulla Mohamed, he continued.

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