MDP detainees on hunger strike in response to alleged “police brutality”

Six Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters arrested for allegedly throwing stones at the motorcade of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s motorcade while he was visiting Addu City have declared themselves on hunger strike as of yesterday afternoon.

In a statement, the MDP said that the six supporters, which include elected Addu City Councilor Ahmed Mirzadh, as well as his father and brother, began the strike yesterday at 4:00pm after being detained on suspicion of throwing stones at the former president and present head of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

An MDP statement claimed that the detained supporters had launched the hunger strike in protest at allegations of police torture whilst in custody.

Abdulla Haseen, Lawyer of Councilor Mirzad said his client was detained for allegedly throwing stones at former President Gayoom’s motorcade, adding that he was very worried about the arrest.

‘’He’s an elected councilor. He is not a violent criminal. He’s a very responsible man,” Haseen said adding that the court has granted an extension of his detention period to ten days.

Police have meanwhile confirmed that the detained MDP supporters were on a hunger strike.

Police Sub-Inspector Hasssan Haneef has said that although the detainees have declared themselves on hunger strike, authorities had been providing them food as scheduled.

Meanwhle, Addu City Council has issued a statement calling for the immediate release of the arrested councillor.

The statement alleged that the motive behind the arrest was to “narrow” the powers of the Addu City Council, which also condemned the brutality of the “coup government” of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

Since February’s transfer of power, the MDP and former President Mohamed Nasheed have continued to allege that the previous government was removed from office in a “coup” by mutinous elements of the police and military, along with then opposition politicians.

The council also claimed that the current government was envious of Addu City Council, alleging that all the development projects launched by Mohamed Nasheed’s government have been stopped under the present administration.

Yesterday, Police Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz said that a total of 181 persons have been arrested so far in ongoing protests during the last week.  A total of 21 persons are still said to be in police custody after being detained during the protests, which have at times escalated into violent confrontations.

Nawaz alleged that MDP supporters have been conducting criminal activities in the protests, including attacking police officers and vandalizing the property of civilians.

He alleged that protesters have been attacking police officers and using foul language against riot police.  Nawaz conversely denied that police have attacked or used foul language against anti-government protesters during more than seven days of consecutive demonstrations.


Dhoonidhoo inmates on hunger strike

Inmates at Dhoonidhoo Police Custodial have declared themselves on hunger strike, a person familiar with the matter told Minivan News.

‘’All inmates detained in Dhoonidhoo Police Custodial, except for foreigners, have declared themselves on hunger strike,’’ the source said on conditions of anonymity. ‘’Inmates have been continuously obstructed from obtaining their rights.’’

The source claimed that the main reason of the hunger strike was because of the ‘’spoiled food’’ that had been fed to the inmates recently.

‘’All the inmates felt ill after consuming the food they were brought the day before yesterday, and the inmates complained,’’ he said. ‘’A senior police officer met with the inmates and told them that the food’s quality had been decreasing due to the change in the dollar exchange rate and that the price of products was increasing.’’

He said the police had told the inmates that the budget allocated for inmates’ food was not increased after the dollar exchange rate was altered, and promised that police would try to solve the issue.

‘’The inmates have to be brought out for walking once every two days, now inmates are brought out to walk once every week,’’ he said. ‘’The inmates have not been provided with other essential things they need such as razors, towels, brush, tooth brush, soap. The authorities have said they do not have the budget to provide those things to Maldivians, but the foreigners in this detention centre get all of them.’’

The source said the inmates have said they will continue the hunger strike “until the police meet their demands”.

Inmates started the strike yesterday at 3:00pm, the source said.

A police spokesperson denied that such incident was taking place at Dhoonidhoo Police Custodial.

Dhoonidhoo is used to detain persons accused of committing crimes pending investigation, with prison sentences mostly carried out in Maafushi.