Former MP Easa released from police custody

Former Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Easa has been released from detention today amid allegations of mistreatment under police custody.

A police media official told Minivan News today that Easa’s family had requested permission to take the former MP overseas for a spinal cord operation. He was brought to ADK hospital for a doctor’s consultation and hospitalized last night.

The police authorised the medical leave after the family submitted a written recommendation from Easa’s doctor, the official said.

Easa was released from custody as police have determined that his prolonged detention “was no longer necessary for the investigation,” he added.

Easa was arrested from the mass anti-government protest on May 1 along with nearly 200 protesters. MDP chairperson Ali Waheed, Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, and Jumhooree Party deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim were arrested later in the night.

The three leaders of the allied opposition parties remain under police custody while most other detainees have been released.

The MDP has accused police of beating Easa and other detainees after their arrest from the May Day protest.

The human rights watchdog is investigating cases of alleged police brutality and custodial abuse.

Easa was allegedly kicked and beaten on the head with batons after he was hauled on to the police vehicle. Minivan News journalists at the scene heard Easa scream from the vehicle packed with SO officers.

Easa was limping when he was brought to the remand hearing on Saturday.

Police have denied the allegations and suggested that lawyers and families file complaints at oversight bodies such as the Police Integrity Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Maldives.

Ali Waheed was meanwhile brought to the ADK hospital in Malé for treatment last night.

Ali Waheed was reportedly taken to hospital around 6:00pm for an MRI scan of his spinal cord, which was recommended by doctors who diagnosed his back pain. He was taken back to Dhoonidhoo detention centre around 7:45pm.

His family had previously said Waheed had been brought to Malé a week after the doctor requested the scans. The family has also expressed concern with police failing to provide medication for Waheed’s diabetes.

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116 May Day detainees released, 129 facing charges

Some 116 people out of a 193 arrested from an antigovernment protest on May 1 have now been released, but the police is seeking charges against some 129 individuals.

The Prosecutor General (PG) office says it is researching the police’s claims, and will decide on prosecution shortly. Protesters face charges of disobedience to order and obstruction of police duty, offences that carry a MVR 3000 fine or six-month jail term.

Approximately 20,000 protesters took to the streets on May 1, demanding the release of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim. But violent clashes erupted when protesters attempted to enter Malé’s main Republic square at dusk.

Police used tear gas, pepper spray and stun grenades to disperse protesters. Two police officers were also beaten by protesters resulting in indiscriminate arrests.

Meanwhile, police arrested two men, including Jumhooree Party council member Ali Hameed, from a street protest last night. The two were released within a few hours.

Police say the opposition’s protests must not disrupt public order, and have said the opposition must seek prior permission before organizing demonstrations, despite the constitution saying no prior notice is needed.

May Day arrests

Opposition leaders – Adhaalath party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chairperson Ali Waheed and Jumhooree Party deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim – were also arrested on May Day.

The arrests are the largest from a single protest in a decade. MDP lawyers say detainees were kept in packed cells and were denied medical treatment. Lawyers also said three men arrested on suspicion of beating a police officer were brutalized.

The criminal court granted a blanket 15-day remand for 173 of the 193 arrested. Some 20 women were released after police failed to present them at court within the required 24 hours. Opposition leaders were also remanded for 15 days.

Lawyers have lodged complaints with the high court over the criminal court’s decision to remand all 173 protesters. Appeal hearings over the remand of Imran, Waheed and Ameen have concluded. But the high court has not specified when a verdict will be issued.

Meanwhile, a ninth suspect in the beating of the police officer handed himself in last night. All nine have been remanded for 15 days.

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50 May Day detainees released, but may face charges

The police have released some 50 of the 175 people held in custody over a mass antigovernment protest on May Day, but it is not yet clear if they will be charged.

According to a police spokesperson, the 50 were arrested from the protest on suspicion of obstructing police duty and disobedience to order. The Prosecutor General will decide whether to file charges, he said.

The penalty for obstructing police duty for a first time offender is a MVR3,000 fine, lawyers have said. According to the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), over 90 percent of the detainees do not have criminal records.

Some 193 people were arrested from the May Day demonstration after violent clashes erupted between protesters and police at dusk. The arrests are the largest number detained from a single protest in a decade.

The criminal court had granted a blanket 15-day extension of detention for 175 protesters, while 19 were released after police failed to present them at court in the 24 hours required by law.

The opposition had been protesting against the jailing of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, and government’s authoritarianism.

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP vice president Mohamed Shifaz said the 50 were released because the police could not handle the vast number of detainees.

“The Dhoonidhoo detention center does not have the capacity to hold so many people; they cannot provide enough water from their water plant, this is why they were released,” Shifaz said.

The MDP has alleged the detainees were kept in inhumane conditions at the Dhoonidhoo detention center. Lawyers say they have not had access to detainees, and say many are being held in overcrowded cells with no ventilation.

Police have also failed to provide medication at prescribed times and many are still wearing the same clothes from when they were arrested, lawyers said.

The police have dismissed the opposition’s allegations as “baldfaced lies,” insisting that cells at the Dhoonidhoo detention centre are up to standards.

The MDP has also alleged police severely beat several detainees at the time of arrest, including three of the nine suspects arrested over the assault of two police officers.

Video footage shows protesters tripping and kicking a Specialist Operations (SO) officer and one man hitting the policeman over the head with his baton.

Lawyers said the three were beaten at the police headquarters and police officers had threatened to kill them. The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) is investigating.

The MDP’s chairperson Ali Waheed, Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, and deputy leader of the Jumhooree Party Ameen Ibrahim remain in police custody. Imran was arrested at 11:00pm on May 1, while Waheed and Ameen were arrested in the early hours of May 2, under court warrants for intimidation.

 

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Commonwealth human rights NGO calls for police brutality investigation

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has called on the government to investigation allegations of police brutality and arbitrary arrest of protesters from Friday’s anti-government demonstration.

The international human rights NGO expressed concern with reports of police using disproportionate force against protesters during a crackdown on the 20,000-strong opposition protest. Nearly 200 protesters were arrested and 175 remain in police custody.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has also alleged the police severely beat three men arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer at the protest and threatened to kill them.

“The reports once again point to serious concerns regarding police excesses. Freedom of assembly is a fundamental tenet of participatory democracy and it is the duty of the government as well as the police to take measures to ensure people are able to exercise their right in a peaceful and meaningful manner,” said CHRI Director Maja Daruwala.

“Any action of the police in dealing with public gatherings must be strictly according to procedure established by law and must be held accountable. Allegations of excessive use of force must be investigated independently. Only then will Maldives move towards policing that is fair, non- discriminatory, lawful and efficient.”

The CHRI is an NGO with a Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Police have denied the allegations of torture. A police media official told Minivan News yesterday that lawyers for the detainees have not submitted complaints to the police. The human rights watchdog said it is investigating three cases of apparent brutality.

The CHRI also said high number of arrests raises questions over the legality of police action, as freedom of assembly is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution while the 2013 peaceful of assembly law assures protestors will not be detained or prosecuted for taking part in a demonstration.

The law also includes procedural safeguards on the dispersal of unruly or violent public gatherings with the use of force, the CHRI noted, including a requirement for police to issue at least three warnings.

The law states that the use of force must be legitimate, reasonable and proportional to the situation.

The NGO called for independent investigations by the police and human rights watchdog bodies to determine the legality of police action on May 1, including “a review of the grounds on which such large numbers have been arrested and detained”.

If investigations determine that excessive force was used, the CHRI said junior officers in charge of dispersing protesters as well as senior officers with supervisory responsibilities must face civil or criminal charges.

“CHRI calls for an end to police impunity that once again lies at the heart of deepening public distrust and urges the Government to provide accountable and just policing befitting a constitutional democracy,” reads the NGOs statement.

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Concerns grow over police abuse of May Day detainees

The human rights watchdog has launched an investigation into police brutality against protesters arrested from an anti-government rally on Friday amidst growing concern over custodial abuse.

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) said its officials were denied access to detainees at the police headquarters on Friday night, but were able to visit the detainees the following morning at Dhoonidhoo.

The commission is now investigating three cases of apparent brutality, member Jeehan Mahmoud said.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses have told Minivan News they saw policemen in plainclothes beating a man around 3:15am on Saturday near the Henveiru stadium. Seven men, some wearing jerseys and shorts, repeatedly punched and kicked the man and drove off with him in a police van.

Other sources say a 35-year-old man was arrested without a court warrant from his residence near the Henveiru stadium, on suspicion of beating a police officer at the protest. The source alleged the man was also beaten at the police headquarters, released the next day, and arrested again with a court warrant.

Jeehan said the HRCM is looking into the case as well.

Nearly 200 protesters were arrested from the opposition’s May Day rally after clashes with riot police. The numbers arrested are the highest from a single protest in a decade. Some 175 protesters are being held in remand detention for 15 days at the police custodial island of Dhoonidhoo near Malé.

Lawyers for the detainees and the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have accused police of brutalising the protesters during and after arrest and holding them in inhumane conditions at the packed detention centre.

The MDP alleged in a statement today that Specialist Operations (SO) police officers kicked former MP Ahmed Easa on his spine and shoulders and hit him on the head with batons after hauling him onto a police vehicle.

Minivan News journalists at the scene heard Easa scream in apparent pain from inside the vehicle, which was packed with SO officers. Easa was limping when he appeared in court on Saturday.

The MDP said police officers threatened to torture Easa while he was waiting at the criminal court and have so far refused to bring the former MP to Malé for treatment. Lawyers said Easa and other detainees have been provided treatment by police doctors at Dhoonidhoo.

Easa and other detainees were kept 25 people to a cell, which were infested with mosquitos, the opposition party said. Police routinely whacked the bars of the cell to prevent Easa from sleeping, the MDP statement added.

Other detainees, including two pregnant women, have complained of being kept in overcrowded cells with no ventilation.

Lawyers said former MDP MP Ibrahim Rasheed ‘Bonda’ had a swollen eye while other detainees had sustained a range of injuries during their arrest.

A man and woman arrested from a protest pickup that had charged through police lines into the green zone at dusk on Friday were also severely beaten, lawyers said.

A police media official told Minivan News that all the detainees, including Easa, were arrested in full view of the media, who were free to observe and report police conduct.

Lawyers for the detainees have not lodged complaints of brutality with the police, the official noted, adding that cases could also filed with independent oversight bodies such as the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and HRCM.

The head of the PIC was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Police said six people have been arrested so far in connection with assaulting the police officer on Friday night. Two men aged 35 and 49 were arrested on Saturday while a 30-year-old woman and three men aged 19, 48, and 28 were arrested on Sunday.

The criminal court has extended the remand detention of all six suspects to 15 days.

Lawyers told Minivan News that they have not had access to detainees held on suspicion of assaulting the police officer.

A seventh suspect has reportedly been arrested this evening. Local media said 19-year-old Mohamed Laban, the goalkeeper of football club Eagles, was arrested around 5:45pm upon his arrival for training at the Maafanu stadium.

Laban is accused of tripping an SO officer. Police have posted videos of the incident, which show protesters kick and severely beat him on the ground with his baton.

Eyewitnesses at the scene told Minivan News at the time that other protesters, including Easa, shoved off the violent protesters, helped the fallen officer to his feet, and took him back behind police lines.

In a report released yesterday after observing the May Day protest, human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) said protesters sustained injuries after police used their shields to push people back.

“The police were also heard using inappropriate and abusive language at the crowds, displaying acute hostility towards the people gathered. It was also observed that some individuals used hateful language and threw plastic bottles and stones at the police,” MDN said.

“Protesters who were arrested after police charged into the crowds were seen to have been pushed, forced to run with several policemen or carried by more than three or four policemen,” the observation briefing stated.

“It was noted that requests by these protesters to let them walk calmly was not respected by the police, and rough handling which led to individuals beings banged into the barricades, injuries and also for several individuals to lose their footwear or cause damage to clothes was observed.”

The MDN also noted that it was unclear whether the individuals arrested during periodic charges by SO officers were responsible for breaching barricades or were simply bystanders.

The MDN praised police personnel who assisted injured protesters and helped wash pepper spray from their eyes and attended to cuts and bruises.

Transparency Maldives has meanwhile condemned police for charging at “peaceful protesters” as well as the “mob attacks on police officers by protestors at the May Day protest.”

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Comment: The darkest hour is just before the dawn

Latheefa Ahmed Verall is former President Mohamed Nasheed’s maternal aunt

I was twenty-eight when Maumoon Abdul Gayoom became the president of the Maldives. President Nasir had been demonised and vilified, and a saviour, like a shining beacon of virtue from the deep, ancient bowels of Al- Azhar had appeared. He came in trailing clouds of glory that was Islamic scholarship. I was simply bowled over – to use a phrase that he and I probably share as lovers of cricket!

The year 1978 was an auspicious year for us both. I was expecting my first child; he was starting on his life’s work as the longest ruling dictator of Asia. Our paths never crossed of course because he was in the business of silencing public dissent in a frenzy of torture and authoritarian heavy handedness, while miles away in New Zealand, I was in the business of teaching my students and eventually my own children, the importance of asking the question ‘why’.

I want to talk to you, the readers of this website and also to others in our extremely divided nation, so that you may open your minds enough to listen to the reason why we must never, never give up striving for our rights. Get over the fact that I am [former President Mohamed] Nasheed’s aunt, get over the fact I live over eleven thousand kilometres away. I am 65 years old and smart enough to separate what I want for my nephew and what I want for my country. They are two different things. This is for my country.

For those people who question my right to voice these concerns, I have this to say. My generation in the Maldives had no voice. We did not have the know-how or the belief that we could stand up to what was unfair, corrupt or unjust. Most of us, particularly women, believed that life was about accepting the status quo, being obedient, humble and respectful towards authority and power. That was the world-view we held and we strived to live ’good’ lives within it. We forgot to ask the question why things were the way they were.

When I saw the pictures of Evan Naseem, his dead body beaten and bruised, his hair matted in his own blood, I realised this was an atrocity that had been years in the making. This lack of respect for human life and dignity had its roots years before 2003. My generation had allowed the regime to come to that point of inhumanity because of our impotency and lack of action. I wept as the words, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” resonated in me. I have never forgotten their significance.

Our impotency came in many guises: we thought bowing down to authority, however unfair, was part of our heritage, we thought it was what our religion demanded of us, we assumed that deference was owed to a ruler simply because he was the ruler and finally we feared that the regime was too powerful to be affected by our concerns.

Today, the imprisonment of Nasheed and the unleashing of the regime’s vendetta on any who disagreed with their Grand Design, are natural progressions for a group of people who had always dealt with problems in a predictable and unimaginative way. They have no answers other than sheer brutality. But now, we the people, no longer find this acceptable. We are no longer prepared to consider it the norm. Those early activists and opposition supporters have helped liberate us all. And all of us working together have finally brought the eyes of the world on the Yameen/Maumoon regime.

[President Abdulla] Yameen, with the same lack of imagination, is following in his brother’s footsteps, and the prisons are once again filling up with their opponents. The events of the last few months scream out the desperation of a group that has once again run out of options: an ex-president jailed by a regime-controlled judiciary who, because of their incompetence and the political pressure of their masters, turned Nasheed’s trial into a farce, a defence minister sentenced for terrorism because of insurmountable differences and divisions in their own dog eat dog cabinet, a predictable falling out with their rich coalition partner who facilitated the regime’s return to power and is currently kept impotent by the threat of financial ruin and finally the country spurned by all freedom loving citizens of the world. Their solution: to move towards a state of emergency because they cannot control the citizenry other than by force.

This mounting opposition to the regime makes it abundantly clear that this is not Nasheed’s fight alone. He is not the only one to suffer brutality and injustice. Under this regime, to various degrees, we have all been within prison walls and we have all suffered from huge injustices. And our fathers, mothers, brothers, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and friends have been affected by this cancer that has destroyed the very soul of the country which we hold dear to our hearts.

I am a student of history and I know that in any great struggle between the forces of tradition and modernity or the rights and wellbeing of all people and the greed of the few, the hardest time is when we feel that fortune has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. With Nasheed in prison, the regime in control of the judiciary so that they can dish out their malice willy-nilly, and the police high on testosterone, it may appear that our objectives are all but unattainable.

But life’s great lesson is that this is exactly the time for us to view our achievements and persevere in the face of adversity. The darkest time is always before the dawn. This is the time to have faith in our ability and not give up. This is the time to increase our resolve, increase our determination and increase our action.

Why?

Unlike my generation, today’s Maldivians are not incapacitated by years of tradition and social isolation. The question ‘why’ has been asked. People have dared. And more than that, we have several leaders in prison and this may well be a positive turning point, as for the first time, the eyes of the world are turned on the Maldives as never before. The time is ripe for our action, to actively insist that we do not want a future of brutality and suppression.

The regime believes that by imprisoning Nasheed and other leaders they can curb the move towards democracy and return to the good old days of untrammelled power. But these arrests give all of us the unheralded power to break this regime. We can prove them wrong. They can continue to imprison people, but they cannot suppress an idea. They cannot imprison or beat an ideal.

The time to unhinge this crumbling, ancient relic of a regime is now. This is our time to act.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]

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Family to sue police over ‘home invasion’

A family in Malé are planning to sue police for entering their residence without permission or a court warrant to arrest two young men accused of assaulting officers.

Residents of Galolhu Sheen told Minivan News that more than 10 police officers barged into the house around 10:50pm on Monday night and “brutally” arrested two brothers, aged 17 and 19, who were not from the house but were friends of the family.

As well as submitting a complaint to the Police Integrity Commission, the family plan to sue the police for unlawful entry and damages over “psychological harm” suffered by young children who witnessed the incident.

The constitution bars entry to homes under most conditions, with article 47(b) reading: “Residential property shall be inviolable, and shall not be entered without the consent of the resident, except to prevent immediate and serious harm to life or property, or under the express authorisation of an order of the court.”

A police media official told Minivan News that a court order was not needed when a person “commits a criminal offence and flees from police”.

The official added that under those circumstances, the residence was considered part of the “crime scene”.

Scuffle

The incident occurred after scuffles between patrolling police and army officers and a group of young men talking outside Galolhu Sheen.

Police and army officers have been patrolling the streets of Malé as part of a joint security operation launched following a spate of violent assaults in the capital that saw a 29-year-old man murdered on March 29.

Three army officers and one police officer approached the group and told them to leave, one of the young men – a resident of Sheen – told Minivan News on the condition of anonymity.

“The police officer in dark blue uniform didn’t have a name tag,” he said.

The group of friends told the security services personnel that they would leave in a moment, he said, but were repeatedly ordered to leave immediately.

When two of the young men complained about the officers addressing them with obscene language, the security officials became angered and tried to arrest the pair, he said.

An officer grabbed one of them and twisted his arm, he continued, which prompted his brother to intervene.

He alleged that one of the soldiers punched the 17-year-old and the police officer started pepper spraying the pair in the face.

The situation calmed down in about five minutes, he added.

“I said there’s no need to fight, you can take them if you want. I told [the officers] to wait, I’m going to take them inside to wash their faces,” he said.

The officers did not respond or prevent them going inside, he stressed.

About 14 police officers then entered the residence through the main door, which leads to a narrow corridor with family quarters on the side.

Three or four police officers then barged into the room where the pair were washing their faces and dragged the older brother out after allegedly punching him.

Police pepper also sprayed him at close range, after which another group of officers entered the room and dragged out the younger brother.

He stressed that the door was open and the officers did not seek permission or ask the pair to come out.

Police said in a statement yesterday that an 18-year-old and 19-year-old were arrested for assaulting a police officer. The officer did not sustain injuries, the statement added.

However, sources who spoke to Minivan News insist that the younger of the two teenagers involved is 17 years of age.

The criminal court yesterday extended the remand detention of the minor to five days in police custody and placed the older brother under house arrest for five days.

“Bad police”

The owner of the home told Minivan News that she gave a statement to police today about the incident.

She arrived home while police were entering and asked for an explanation, she said, but police did not respond. Upon arriving in the area, she was immediately affected by the pepper spray in the air.

While police were dragging out the older brother – who was on the ground and apparently crying in pain – she grabbed his shirt and asked police why they were arresting him.

“They said ‘he spoke to us with filthy language, he can be taken, we’re taking him,'” she recalled.

A woman who was inside Galolhu Sheen wears a face veil and noted that the officers could have caught her without the veil when they entered her quarters without permission.

Her seven-year-old, ten-year-old, and 17-year-old were woken up when police entered, and witnessed the incident from upstairs.

She said the brothers frequently visited the house for sleepovers. The younger boy had been a vice captain at his school.

After seeing police beating the pair inside their apartment, the children ran and hid inside a wardrobe, she said, and could not sleep later that night.

“We hear from people that [police] are brutal, but now we’ve seen with our own eyes,” she said.

“The seven-year-old also saw how they treated [the pair]. He didn’t want to go to her Quran class last night. He said, ‘I can’t go anywhere at night, mommy, the bad police will come.'”

Her children were traumatised by the incident, she said, and one of them today that she “wished we had an iron gate.”

Photo: police officers stop and search suspects last week 

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#NameThatPolice: Police photo warning sparks social media outcry

The Maldives Police Services on Friday warned social media users against harassing and posting photos of individual officers online, prompting a social media outcry with dozens of Twitter users posting pictures of police brutality with the hashtag #NameThatPolice.

“Publicizing photos of individual police officers, with warnings, on social media is unacceptable,” the police said, claiming the act was aimed at intimidating police officers and inciting hatred towards the police force.

Appealing to social media users to be more responsible, the police warned of penalties against continued harassment.

The warning came after opposition supporters started circulating photos of individual police officers accusing them of criminality, brutality and bribery. The police statement, however, appears to have escalated matters.

 

Many photos posted by Twitter users were from the brutal police crackdown in the aftermath of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster on February 7, 2012. A Commonwealth backed national inquiry had recommended penalizing officers for brutality, but the opposition says the government had instead promoted officers accused of brutalizing protesters.

Mohamed Shaheed asked, “Are we not allowed to talk about this?”

Speaking to Minivan News, he said the public must publish photos of police brutality, “otherwise it will not stop.”
“This is not aimed at all police officers, just the ones who break the law,” he added.

Some tweets included comical photos of police carrying protesters to police vehicles.

“I think the warning by police is downright ridiculous. Nobody should tell us to stop speaking out against brutality. We will not remain silent when crimes are committed, be it police or any other state institution,” Twitter user Ibrahim Huzam told Minivan News.

“In addition to the lack of discipline and professionalism, police act very hostile towards the public, this is very wrong,” he added.

Tensions are high in Malé with the opposition protesting daily over the imprisonment of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim. Protests have now entered a seventh consecutive week.

Confrontations between police and protesters have increased recently, and hundreds including MPs and journalists have been arrested.

Chief Superintendent of Police Abdulla Nawaz on March 26 said inidivdual police officers have been confronted and intimidated at their homes, adding that efforts were underway to “psychologically weaken” police personnel

Nawaz also accused certain media outlets of attempting to falsely portray police as brutal towards civilians and said the media cut off live feed when protesters attacked police officers. He warned the police would arrest media personnel if they obstruct police duty.

Former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim has meanwhile accused the police’s Specialist Operations (SO) officers of framing him by planting illegal weapons at his home and committing criminal activities including the chopping down of Malé City’s Areca Palms in October last year.

The police have denied the accusations as baseless and untrue.

Nazim was sentenced to 11 years in jail on Thursday (March 26).

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MDP MP Eva Abdulla raises concern over safety of MPs, journalist with IPU human rights committee

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Eva Abdulla met the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) human rights committee yesterday to raise concerns over the personal safety of MPs and journalists in the Maldives.

In a press release today, the main opposition party explained that the MP for Galolhu North met members of the committee during the IPU assembly in Geneva, Switzerland and highlighted security threats to opposition politicians, the media, and the community at large.

“[Eva] spoke about the lack of thorough investigations of these cases, perpetrators not facing trial, the failure of law enforcement in the face of atrocities committed out in the open, the failure of the People’s Majlis to look into the cases, and the creation of a culture of intimidation in the Maldives,” the press release stated.

“Eva also noted at the human rights committee the lack of any action taken so far regarding police brutality against MDP MPs on February 7 and 8, 2012 and later despite conclusive evidence.”

A hearing scheduled at the Criminal Court yesterday concerning the alleged assault of MDP Mariya Ahmed Didi on February 8 by a police officer was cancelled after the defendant failed to appear at court.

Referring to the cancellation of the hearing, Eva noted that “selective prosecution” of MDP MPs were ongoing at the Criminal Court.

A hearing of former MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor’s trial took place yesterday at the court, she noted.

Eva also accused the government and parliament of failing to investigate numerous death threats sent to MPs and failing to provide security.

The IPU has previously said that the government’s reaction to the death threats would be “a test of the country’s democratic credentials.”

On the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan, Eva told members of the committee that an independent investigation uncovered evidence suggesting that Rilwan was abducted.

Eva criticised the police’s failure to properly investigate the disappearance and contended that the case was not a high priority for the government.

She noted that parliamentary oversight committees have refused to look into the case.

She noted the arson attack against private broadcaster Raajje TV, the near-fatal stabbing of Raajje TV journalist Ibrahim Waheed ‘Asward’, the attack on Minivan News last month where a machete was buried in the building’s door, and death threats sent to journalists via text message from unlisted numbers.

Despite clear evidence in some cases, Eva noted that the government has not taken any action against the perpetrators to date.

While police arrested a 32-year-old suspect on charges of stealing Minivan News’ security camera – who was clearly identifiable on the CCTV footage – the Criminal Court released the suspect with conditions the following day.

MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News last month that death threats have become too commonplace to publicise each incident.

Following a rally in September, MDP MP Eva Abdulla received a text message threatening a suicide attack at the next MDP gathering. The message also threatened to “kill off” MDP members and vowed to “fight to the last drop of blood.”

Eva revealed on social media that she had received a text threatening to kill the children of MDP members.

“Don’t bring out your children on the streets these days. Stabbing season is about to begin. [We] will kill you,” the message read.

Eva noted that the same message was sent to many MDP members while the “govt looks on”.

Several journalist were also sent a text message warning them not to cover “the incidents happening in Malé now”, which included the torching of the MDP’s office on September 26.

“This is a war between the laadheenee [secular or irreligious] MDP mob and religious people. We advise the media not to come in the middle of this. We won’t hesitate to kill you,” read the threat.

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