Police seize ‘protest sound system’ from ex MDP president’s residence

Photo by Shaari

The police entered former Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) president Ibrahim Ismail’s ‘Ibra’ and Jumhooree Party (JP) deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim’s residences with court warrants last night and seized sound systems used during the June 12 sit-in protest.

Police officers went into Machangoalhi Bouegainvillea and Henveiru Haali around 8:00pm and confiscated the loudspeakers, a police media official confirmed.

The court warrant – signed by chief judge Abdulla Mohamed and circulated on social media – stated that the MDP had refused to stop using loudspeakers after 11:00pm as ordered and had set up sound systems in various buildings in Malé.

The “public was facing difficulties” due to the speeches broadcast from the sound system, the police stated as the reason for requesting the search warrant.

The sit-in took place in the capital’s main thoroughfare Majeedhee Magu with about 2,000 protesters.

Shortly after 11:00pm, Specialist Operations (SO) police officers confiscated hand-drawn carts used to carry the sound systems. But speeches from opposition politicians – delivered from an undisclosed location – continued and could be heard from the speakers set up at the residences.

An hour later, riot police chased protesters into side streets and cleared Majeedhee Magu, but protesters regrouped and continued protesting until 4:00am.

Loudspeakers were also set up on Manchangoalhi Maadheli and SO officers searched a security guard outside the residence for keys, but did not go into the building. The sound system was turned off when police attempted to enter.

Some 12 protesters, including former ruling party MP Ahmed Mahloof and AP deputy secretary general Ahmed Shareef were arrested during the police crackdown. The criminal court released all 12 last night after the police sought extension of remand detention.

The seizure of the sound system from Ibra’s home meanwhile comes after the government’s eviction of Mandhu College from its premises earlier this month. The former MP is the chairman of the college.

“Now they have entered my house. And randomly seized property. This time they had a piece of paper which stated it was a court order,” he wrote in a Facebook post today.

“But that piece of paper did not state what crime was being investigated, who the suspect was. And they conducted the search without the presence of any of the residents, and did not even inform me as to what they were taking with them.”

He added that the next search “will produce a submachine gun and a CD-ROM, which will be ample proof for me to be convicted for terrorism.”

“And it will be just an aside, that I will be tried by the same judge who issued the illegal ‘search warrant,'” he wrote.

Independence day

The MDP has meanwhile announced plans to stage a fourth mass anti-government demonstration to coincide with Independence Day on July 26. The government has planned numerous activities to celebrate the upcoming golden jubilee of independence.

Speaking at a rally in the opposition Haruge (meeting hall) last night, MDP vice president Mohamed Shifaz called on supporters from across the country to travel to the capital for the mass protest.

“We want to show the level of independence in this country,” he said.

Shifaz told Minivan News yesterday that the opposition alliance – made up of the MDP, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, members of the JP, and defectors from the ruling party – will continue its protests until the government heeds its demands.

The demands include releasing imprisoned former President Mohamed Nasheed and former defence Mohamed Nazim, whose arrests in February sparked the ongoing political arrest.

The opposition alliance is also demanding the withdrawal of terrorism charges against AP president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, JP deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim, and JP council member Sobah Rasheed, as well as an end to alleged targeting of opposition-aligned businesses.

Two weeks after a 20,000-strong mass protest on May 1, President Abdulla Yameen called for separate talks with the three allied opposition parties. The talks with the JP began last week, but the government has rejected former President Nasheed and AP president Sheikh Imran as the representatives of their respective parties.

The JP had proposed establishing a platform for all-party talks, discussing the release of jailed opposition politicians, ensuring judicial independence, and protecting investors.

A second meeting for between the government and the JP scheduled for this afternoon was cancelled. President’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali said the meeting was postponed because some of the government’s representatives were not in Malé.

Speaking at a ceremony in Thaa Thimafarushi last night, tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb called on the opposition to stop its street protests and accept the government’s invitation for talks to resolve the political crisis.

He urged the MDP and AP to relent on its condition of joining the talks with its jailed leaders as representatives.

“If the [leaders] are to be freed, first the doctor’s board must decide it. How can we talk about it with the patient? That’s not how it’s done. Leave the patient as the patient and come discuss with the doctor. The operation can only be completed after that,” he was quoted as saying by local media.