Opposition anger over release of protest ‘attacker’

A 28-year-old man arrested for disrupting an opposition protest last week will be released tomorrow, sparking outrage among opposition supporters.

Mohamed Nasheed Abdulla, an activist for the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives, was arrested after protesters accused him of charging into a crowd of demonstrators on a motorcycle on April 1 in Malé. He did not cause serious injuries.

The next day the Criminal Court transferred him to house arrest for five days, which is set to expire today.

A spokesperson for the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, Imthiyaz Fahmy, condemned the criminal court’s “double standards”, noting that opposition supporters arrested at protests were frequently detained for ten to 15 days in police custody.

Unlike Abdulla, the opposition supporters are also being released on condition they stay away from protests for a set period of time.

“These people who attack us, they are the dangerous people, not elected MPs,” said Fahmy, in reference to a court’s Friday decision to hold independent MP Ahmed Mahloof in police custody for an extra 15 days.

Mahloof has been held without charge since he was first arrested from a protest on March 25.

Fahmy also accused the police of failing to take action against individuals who he says continue to attack opposition protesters and vandalise speaker systems and trucks used in protests.

Several individuals the opposition say are gangsters have been caught on camera assaulting protesters and journalists and dousing protesters with crude oil and petrol. Some protesters say they have also been threatened with knives.

The police say they have arrested several people, but that only the court has the authority to detain suspects for longer.

Meanwhile, the release of protesters on condition they stay away from demonstrations for a set period has met with criticism from legal experts and the prosecutor general.

“Releasing a person suspected of a crime with conditions other than ensuring the person’s return to the court maybe unconstitutional,” the prosecutor general wrote in a letter to the chief judge of the criminal court.


Nasheed’s family raises fear of an assassination plot by security forces

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s family has raised concerns over a possible plot within the security forces to assassinate the imprisoned opposition leader.

Speaking to the press today, former First Lady Laila Ali said a very close friend whom she trusts and “could not help but believe” shared information that Nasheed would either be hanged with a note saying he could not remain in jail for 13 years or “disappeared” like Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

As the source was certain of the authenticity of the plans and had learned of it from two Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers, Laila said the information was “too serious to ignore.”

Nasheed was found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in prison last Friday. Home Minister Umar Naseer has since said the former president would be kept at the Dhoonidhoo detention centre until a “prison apartment” could be built in Maafushi jail.

“I’ve never feared he might be killed while in jail. It is deeply saddening [that he is jail]. But I’ve never thought he might not come out [alive] when he completes his sentence,” she said.

Nasheed’s brother Ibrahim Nashid said he was certain no inmate would harm the former president and said the family had been reasonably certain Nasheed would return alive when he had been jailed under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“I was previously certain it would never go that far. But now anything can happen.”

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokersperson Imthiyaz Fahmy told the press yesterday the party has also received information of the alleged assassination plans.

Fahmy referred to rumours of plans to kidnap Nasheed from Dhoonidhoo Island and expressed concern at lax security arrangements at the police detention centre.

“There is only one security personnel where he is kept at Dhoonidhoo. We don’t believe that there will be any security for him. The party believes there is room to organise an attack on him,” he said.

Laila meanwhile said today that she has written to President Abdulla Yameen and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as well as the home minister and police commissioner seeking assurances of Nasheed’s safety.

“In my letter, I expressed my grave concern and told them my husband is in your care. You must give me assurance, in writing or by your actions, that he would not come under any physical or psychological harm.”

The former first lady said she is awaiting a reply, but would make her letters public if she did not receive assurances from the government.

Laila said that she last talked to Nasheed on Tuesday night and shared her concerns. Nasheed told her that police officers had said they would increase security and patrol the island.

Laila noted that Nasheed has also been deprived of legally mandated MNDF protection since his arrest.

Laila said she now feared for his life, adding that she constantly heard of possible attempts to kill Nasheed since the “coup” in February 2012.

Meanwhile, at a press conference today, Police Superintendent Hamdhoon Rasheed dismissed the MDP’s allegations of plans to assassinate Nasheed as false.

Nasheed was safe and under police protection at the detention centre, he said.

“Environment of violence”

British MP for Salisbury John Glen also raised concern over Nasheed’s safety in Westminster today, questioning Leader of the House of Commons William Hague over possible sanctions against the Maldives.

“Although it is believed that he is safe in Dhoonidhoo, it is expected that when he is moved to Maafushi island, there will be real concerns for his safety. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the Foreign Office is doing all it can to highlight the concerns of Nasheed’s supporters, and can a statement be made to the House about sanctions and whether they should be taken against this much-misunderstood set of islands?” the MP asked.

In reply, Hague said he was deeply concerned over Nasheed’s sentencing and said the UK continues to monitor the case closely.

“We are pressing the Government in the Maldives to give international observers access to any appeal hearing and to allow them to visit the former President in prison,” he said.

Urging calm in the Maldives Hague said, “We have called on the Maldives to follow due legal process. The Foreign Office Ministers were the first to make a strong statement, making it clear that we are monitoring the case closely.”

In a statement on March 16, human rights group Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) also expressed concern over the “rising environment of violence” and threats to Nasheed and other political figures.

The NGO said it has received information of plans to kill Nasheed in Maafushi after instigating a prison riot, referring to previous outbreaks of violence at the jail, including the shooting of inmates in September 2003 and the death of an inmate last year after a fatal stabbing.

“An investigation is still pending and police are yet to inform the public about the progress of the investigation,” MDN said in reference to the latter incident.

Moreover, the NGO said it has also received reports suggesting “violent groups have been hired to harm and kidnap” opposition MPs.

“We believe that the law and order situation has become extremely fragile in the Maldives, and implore the international community to have a presence in the Maldives to prevent further disorder and to ensure a quick and smooth transition to peace and harmony,” MDN said.

MDN called upon international anti-torture organisations to send missions to the Maldives “where they can monitor the safety of former President Mohamed Nasheed.”


Related to this story

Home minister assures safety and welfare of former President Nasheed in custody

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

Government will ensure Nasheed’s right to appeal conviction, says spokesperson

Respect Criminal Court verdict, says President Yameen


MDP parliamentary group issues three-line whip against proposed 2015 budget

The Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) parliamentary group has decided that it will not be supporting the budget oversight committee’s version of the 2015 budget.

The opposition has issued a three-line whip compelling all party members in the Majlis – currently numbering 23 of the 85 seat house – to oppose the current version of the record MVR24.3 billion (US$1.5 billion) state budget.

A report was approved by the budget oversight committee last week for consideration of the full house, recommending no changes to the spending plans.

MDP internal committees have branded the budget “aimless”, inadequate, and conducive to corruption since it was first submitted by Minister of Finance Abdulla Jihad last month.

“MDP MPs are not voting for the budget because it’s a discriminatory and unsustainable budget, ” explained MDP Spokesman Imthiyaz Fahmy. “It would also widen the gap between the rich and the lower income groups due to regressive taxation.”

The introduction of 10 percent import duties on oil and essential foodstuffs is part of the government’s plans to generate MVR3.4 billion (US$220 million) in new revenue – representing 14 percent of the 2015 budget.

The MDP’s budget committee has expressed concern that failure to meet the proposed revenue raising measures could see the budget deficit increase to MVR5 billion (US$330 million), from the estimated MVR1.3 billion (US$84 million).

Further plans included revisions to current electricity subsidies, as well as the introduction of a US$6 ‘Green Tax’ on tourism, which the MDP has suggested was originally budgeted for US$10.

While government officials have said that the new tax will be used to resolve the country’s waste management problems, pro-government MPs have refused to ring-fence the additional revenue.

The MDP’s parliamentary group’s decision to issue the three-line whip was made during a meeting on Sunday evening, although only 9 MPs attended the meeting.

Party discipline has been brought into question on numerous occasions during the MDP’s first year in opposition, most notably in the approval of all 15 of President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet last December, after 6 MDP members ignored instructions to reject 8 nominees.

Fahmy also explained that the recent approval of Hassan Ziyath to the post of auditor general was against the spirit of the parliamentary group after it had strongly opposed amendments to the Auditor General’s Act. MDP members contributed 9 out of 59 votes in favour of Ziyath’s appointment.

“MDP MPs in the independent institutions committee boycotted the committee and walked out after making a statement there to say that reappointing an auditor general is unconstitutional,” said Fahmy.

Related to this story

Finance minister presents record MVR24.3 billion state budget to parliament

US$6 green tax to be introduced from November 2015, says tourism minister

MDP criticises proposed 2015 state budget as “aimless”

Parliamentary budget debate concludes


Majlis throws out 5055 signature petition on Rilwan’s disappearance

The People’s Majlis on Tuesday threw out a 5055 signature petition which urged the parliament’s National Security Committee to pressure the Maldives Police Services to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation.

In a letter to MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, who sponsored the petition, Majlis Secretary General Ahmed Mohamed said the petition had failed to fulfill requirements outlined in the Majlis standing orders.

Condemning the move, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP said Secretary General Mohamed had later admitted the rejection of the petition was “a mistake” and confirmed it had been submitted according to all procedures.

“We are extremely concerned. The MDP submitted the case to various subcommittees. Ruling party MPs killed the case in every single committee, and have now killed the 5055 signature petition submitted by Rilwan’s family,” Fahmy MP said.

“I don’t know whether they will be looking at it again. But they [Majlis] did admit that what they did was wrong when they threw out the petition. They have completely ignored the law when they issued a letter to me to saying the petition does not meet requirements.”

The Majlis secretariat had said the sponsoring MP had not signed all pages of the petition as Article 200 of Majlis regulations. However, Fahmy pointed out his signature was in fact present on all pages.

Article 199 the Majlis standing orders state a petition can only be submitted on a bill submitted to Majlis, an issue taken up in Majlis, or an issue of public concern.

Fahmy’s urgent motion on Rilwan’s disappearance on August 19 was accepted with bipartisan support.

“When I countered all of their arguments, they at last said it was a mistake. All the required signatures were there. Then, not knowing what to say, they said we will try to proceed. What kind of answer is this?” the Maafannu North MP said.

“The PPM holds a majority in Majlis. Their refusal to look into the issue via Majlis sub committees and rejection of the petition indicates the government’s stand on this issue.”

Despite public outcry, the PPM has largely remained indifferent. Today is the 81st day since the reporter disappeared.

The petition, submitted on September 4, asked MPs to investigate if the police had been negligent in investigating Rilwan’s disappearance and asked MPs to find out if an abduction reported on August 8 in front of Rilwan’s apartment building was connected to his disappearance.

Four men have been arrested over the case, but only one man remains in custody at present. The police have only revealed few details on the investigation.

Home Minister Umar Naseer said he believed Rilwan is alive and promised to return him safe to his family. He has also acknowledged involvement of criminal gangs in the case.

Human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network released a report in September implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Discounting theories of voluntary disappearance and suicide, the investigation – conducted by Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security – concludes the disappearance is likely to have been an abduction.

The report confirmed evidence of possible “hostile surveillance” at the terminal conducted by two known affiliates of Malé based Kuda Henveiru gang.

The NGO on October 23 accused the police of negligence in investigating the disappearance for their failure to inform the public on progress and failure to confirm if the abduction reported on the night Rilwan went missing was related to his disappearance.


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.


Supreme Court undermining parliamentary independence, says Majlis committee

The Parliamentary Privileges Committee has on Sunday passed a motion submitted by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Imthiyaz Fahmy regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to void four articles in the Parliament’s Privileges Act.

Meanwhile, fellow MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor’s prosecution for failure to attend the Criminal Court was overturned in the High Court today. Hamid had claimed parliamentary privileges in his defence.

Fahmy’s motion states that while the Surpreme Court had on November 28, 2013, ruled void articles 3(b), 11(a), 13(c) and 16, the decision is one that contradicts constitutional stipulations and compromises the independence of the parliament.

In the motion, Fahmy proposed that the committee agree that the Supreme Court’s actions undermine the parliament and its members’ privileges and powers, and that by ruling to void said articles, the court has breached the constitutional stipulation that no power of the state attempts to exert influence over another.

He further asked the committee members to determine the matter as a serious concern which needs to be raised in the full parliament, while also being brought to the attention of other actors including agencies of the UN and Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU).

Fahmy proposed raising the matter with international actors and seeking assistance to protect the independence, privileges and powers of the parliament.

Speaking at the committee, Fahmy further alleged that the court was working to “undermine the power of the people despite our constitution stating that all powers of the state stem from the citizens”.

“We are seeing the Supreme Court as an entity working to blatantly oppose empowerment of the people. By voiding articles from acts passed by over-riding majorities from among the people’s representatives, they are blatantly challenging citizen empowerment. Every single sitting of the SC has become a threat to this country’s democratic process,” Fahmy said in Sunday’s committee meeting.

“A wide range of international actors have criticized this country’s judiciary and its apex court, including several UN agencies, UN Special Rapporteur Knaul, EU and various foreign governments. How I see it, the Supreme Court is the biggest threat to the country’s democratic process. I condemn the SC’s action and call on this committee and parliament to do all possible to stop such actions,” he continued.

“This is not a practice in democratic societies”: Fahmy

Speaking to Minivan News after the meeting, Fahmy further alleged that the court had made void articles other than those included in the Attorney General’s submission.

“A case can be submitted to the Supreme Court questioning whether a certain act, or an article of a particular act contradicts the constitution. However, one cannot submit, nor can the courts accept, a case questioning whether an act or an article of an act is granted as ‘absolute power’ or asking to clarify what it means,” he said.

“SC repealed clauses on their own initiative too, while the Attorney General has not even proposed to. This cannot happen and this is not a practice in democratic societies.”

“Perhaps they have learnt acts of this sort from countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt or others. Places where there is no democratic culture and where people are suffering from state sponsored injustices,” he said.

Fahmy himself was being tried for contempt of the Supreme Court for comments criticizing the body on television, though the MP’s defence has claimed the regulation in question expired in 2011.

MDP MP Hamid, who was taken to jail after the Criminal Court gave him a six month jail sentence for failure to attend court hearings, had his appeal case heard on Sunday.

A High Court bench of three judges overturned the Criminal Court sentence in Sunday’s appeal hearing.

Head Judge of the panel, Judge Yoosuf Hussain stated in court today that the Parliamentary Privileges Act at the time of sentencing still had a clause stating that MPs cannot be summoned to court in a manner that will inconvenience their attendance to parliament meetings.

Judge Hussain said that due to this reason, Hamid’s failure to attend hearings cannot be judged as having been without a justified reason.

He further stated that the lower court had failed to follow due process to be observed in the instance that a court summons cannot be delivered to a person, and if their families refuse to accept the summons on their behalf.

The judge said that as a result of this failure, the High Court does not believe the lower court had grounds to act against MP Hamid in this instance.


Majlis accepts bill to criminalise tourism boycotts

With additional reporting by Daniel Bosley

The People’s Majlis has today accepted a bill prohibiting tourism boycotts, with 30 members voting for, 30 members voting against, and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Abdulla Shahid casting the deciding vote as speaker of the house.

The tourism boycott bill would criminalize calls for a boycott, as well as the supporting or endorsing of a boycott, participating in a tourism boycott, or any act that would incite fear amongst tourists.

Amendments to the penal code were also introduced in the Majlis today, with MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy submitting amendments to a number of articles, including article 81 – under which MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed is currently being charged.

The boycott bill – submitted by the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Ali Arif – has now been sent to the Majlis Economic Committee.

Depending on the level of participation in the boycott, those found guilty could be fined MVR150,000 (US$9740), have their trade permits cancelled, or have any honors or privileges awarded by the state revoked.

Discussions of a tourism boycott have always been particularly sensitive in the Maldives, with the country reliant on the industry which contributes over 70 percent of the country’s GDP.

Government ministers have in the past described the industry as “sacred”.

A selective tourism boycott labelled the ‘Maldives Travel Advisory’ appeared in the months following the contested transfer of power in February 2012, although the website was soon taken down.

Similarly, Nasheed himself told the Financial Times in July last year that tourists planning to visit the Maldives should cancel their holidays.

This call was not repeated, however, with the party’s National Council never agreeing to adopt such a policy.

Removals from existing code

In addition to removing Penal Code’s Article 81, Imthiyaz Fahmy proposed removing Articles 75 and 87.

Article 81 of the penal code regards public servant using authority to arrest or detain innocent persons.

“It shall be an offense for any public servant by reason of the authority of office he is in to detain or arrest in a manner contrary to law. Person guilty of this offense shall be subjected to exile or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding MRF 2,000,” reads the article.

Former President Nasheed is currently being charged under Article 81 for the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed – an incident that precipitated Nasheed’s ouster in February 2012.

The arrest followed the failure of parliament and the Judicial Services Commission to taken action over an extensive list of allegations against Mohamed.

The Nasheed trial subsequently stalled at the high court level after the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court – specially assembled for the case – was disputed.

The composition of the court and the conduct of the trial was also criticised by UN Special Rapporteur Gabriella Knaul as “arbitary” and of questionable legality.

The Progressive Party of Maldives called for the trial to be resumed earlier this month, though not further action has yet been taken in the courts.

Penal code article 75 concerns the making of false charges: “Whoever institutes a claim against another person with the intent to cause inconvenience, loss or injury to that person without lawful grounds shall be subjected to a fine not exceeding MRF 2000.”

Section 87 of the code relates to the failure to assist public servant in his duties, with offenders subject to exile, six months imprisonment, or a MVR500 fine.

The amendments come at a time when several MDP MPs, including Fahmy, are being investigated for contempt of court and for criticising the judiciary.

The current penal code was written in 1968. Work on a new penal code started in 2008, but it is still at committee stage.


Criminal Court hears separate cases against opposition MPs

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs Imthiyaz Fahmy and Hamid Abdul Ghafoor were brought before the Criminal Court today for separate hearings to face the respective charges of “scandalising” the country’s judiciary and refusing to provide a urine sample to police.

MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy ‘Inthi’ has pleaded not guilty to charges of “disobeying orders” for contemptuous comments allegedly made about the country’s Supreme Court earlier this year.

Meanwhile, fellow MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor asked for his Criminal Court case, in which he is charged with refusing to give a urine sample to police, to be thrown out completely.

Ghafoor allegedly failed to provide the urine sample after being arrested on an uninhabited island along with a group of MDP politicians and other senior political figures.  A number of those arrested with Ghafoor were charged with alcohol and drug possession.

However, Ghafoor today told the Criminal Court that police had not asked him to provide a urine sample following his arrest on November 16, 2012, arguing that the case should therefore be dropped.

The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office had previously told the Criminal Court that it has 11 witnesses testifying against Ghafoor, proving that he was in possession – and under the influence – of alcohol when arrested on the island of Hondaidhoo last November.

Meanwhile, MP Fahmy stands accused of making contemptuous remarks about the country’s judiciary during a television show earlier this year – charges he denied during the opening hearing of his own case today.

The opposition MP added that the court had granted him the right to appoint a lawyer before reconvening. The next hearing is currently scheduled for November 24.

Fahmy argued that as an elected representative in parliament, it was questionable why he could not make comments criticising the country’s judiciary on television when he had made the same accusations during live transmissions broadcast from parliament.

“In a free democratic society, the offensive of scandalising court is not even recognised. It’s dead elsewhere in the world, but still alive here in the Maldives. This is unacceptable,” he said.

Fahmy case background

In April, Fahmy told Minivan News that Police had begun an investigation of a case filed by the Department of Judicial Administration against him, over his allegedly “contemptuous remarks” against the Supreme Court and its judges.

Addressing the allegedly contemptuous remarks made during a program broadcast on Raajje TV, Fahmy argued this week that he had been addressing the concerns of constituents by expressing his belief that the country’s Supreme Court had encroached on the powers of parliament.

He also alleged that the Supreme Court’s judges were not qualified to understand or interpret the country’s democratic constitution, arguing the apex court was the most “undemocratic” institution among the three branches of state.

Fahmy added that his comments were mostly reiterating the conclusions drawn by numerous international legal experts about the Maldives court system in recent years; including the views of UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul.

Knaul, in a report released earlier this year, expressed “deep concern” over politicisation within the country’s court system.

The special rapporteur stated that there was near unanimous consensus during her visit to the Maldives this year that the composition of watchdog body the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) – which draws members from sources outside the judiciary, such as parliament, the civil service commission and others – was “inadequate and politicised”.

This complaint was first highlighted in a report published by the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) in 2010.

Current presidential candidate of the Jumhoree Party (JP) and former JSC Member MP Gasim Ibrahim later called Knaul’s findings ‘lies and jokes’ at a rally held in February.

“[Gabriela Knaul] claimed that the judges were not appointed transparently, I am sure that is an outright lie. She is lying, she did not even check any document at all nor did she listen to anybody.”

“She is repeating something that was spoon-fed to her by someone else. I am someone who sits in JSC. She claimed there were no regulations or mechanism there. That is a big joke,” Gasim claimed at the time.


HRCM “blind and deaf” over police brutality, claims MDP

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson and MP Imthiyaz Fahmy ‘Inthi’ has condemned the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) for being “deaf and blind” to police brutality against MDP supporters.

Speaking to the press today at the MDP Secretariat, Inthi said that the MDP was deeply concerned that while there was a human rights commission to investigate rights violations, it had failed to notice these and instead accepted the police’s actions with their silence.

Inthi alleged that police had attacked MDP protesters as well as journalist during the recent protests over the dismantling of the Usfasgandu protest sight, and provided pictures.

He alleged that many MDP activists had been injured during police crackdowns and that some activists were beaten after being taken into police custody.

‘’They also forced the 56 arrested MDP supporters to give their urine samples to test for drugs, but they were all arrested for a political unrest on not on a drug related offence,’’ he said. Inthi himself was arrested the previous day during the crackdown.

“’I was arrested at the MDP protest campsite and the court released me, after the police told the judge that I had assaulted a female officer at the Usfasgandu,’’ he told the journalist. “Human rights organisations far away from the Maldives have expressed concern over rights violations here, but the Human Rights Commission in the Maldives has not seen or noticed anything.’’

HRCM had also failed to notice that the police had dismantled MDP protest campsite as Usgandu without a court warrant, he added.

‘’Today the police are operating as a gang, they are not police but are a group thugs,” he claimed. “The former commissioner of police has said they are now operating like a gang,’’ Inthi added.

HRCM Presdient Maryam Azra did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

Police and army officers dismantled the MDP protest camp after the Criminal Court issued a search warrant following the police allegations of sorcery and other criminal offences being carried out at the campsite.

The Civil Court later ordered a halt to the dismantling of the camp, however police had by then destroyed most of the area.

The Civil Court order came following a case filed in court by the MDP which is still ongoing.