Security forces clear MDP protest camp area

After a morning of violence that has rocked the capital, tension is once again on the rise as large numbers of police have begun to clear out the surf point area of the city.

The area has been home to an MDP protest camp since the controversial resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed last month.

Minivan News will be providing live updates as they happen.

Refresh this page for further updates as the day progresses.

Previous updates from throughout the day can be read here.

22:49 – Meeting has finally begun at MDP Haruge.

22:19 – MDP report that their meeting will take place at MDP Haruge after police blocked their efforts to meet elsewhere.

22:08 – MDP reports that police are preventing its supporters from approaching the Usfasgandu to the west of Dharubaaruge area.

21:50 – Approach to Dharubaaruge from north along Boduthakarufaanu Magu deserted as MDP supporters gather over at Usfasgandu.

20:21 – MDP announce on Twitter that they are to hold a meeting at 9:30pm at Usfasgandu behind Dharubaaruge, other reports say 9pm.

20:00 – MDP release a statement condemning the seizure of their camp saying, ” [Male’ City] Council has confirmed to MDP that the Maldives Police Service had not informed the Council of anything prior to them arriving/dismantling Justice Square.”

“In continuing this way, they are proving the public’s lack of confidence in the Police. We call on the Human Rights Commission, Elections Commission and the Police Integrity Commission to investigate this immediately,” said MDP Spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.

20:00 – Very few people remain at the western end of Dharubaaruge, the numbers have also declined on the northern side.

18:55 – Police have now set up barricades around the camp area to prevent entry to the site. Meanwhile, Haveeru has reported that security forces now claim to have discovered a cooking oil barrel containing a liquid substance that they believe smells like alcohol on the protest site.

18:40 – Police have been showing beer cans to local media that they have said were discovered at the MDP camp. Water canons have also been dispersed against protesters gathered near to Dharubaaruge at the other end of the camp.

18:32 – MDP MP Alham Fahmy is now outside the camp, which continues to be blockaded by security forces.

17:35 – Speaking to Minivan News, a police spokesperson was unable to confirm whether plastic bullets may have been used in certain situations to dismiss protesters during the day. The spokesperson said that police attempting to use “minimum force” where possible to control crowds.

“We have been using non-lethal weaponry,” said the spokesperson.

The claims come amidst media reports that tear gas has again been deployed at the Family Court area near to the former MDP camp.

17:20 – As police continue to dismantle the camp, local media are reporting that a bottle suspected of containing alcohol has been found along with hammers and wooden clubs. Haveeru has said that police are also asking for photos and videos that depict violence against public and private property as well as attacks on police personnel.

17:09 – MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy has claimed that the move reflects an ongoing reversal of human rights under the new government.

“The old days are back. They are violating freedoms of expression and association,” he told Minivan News. “They are now committing atrocities in daylight to intimidate the public.”

Fahmy said he was not surprise that security forces had been granted a court warrant to remove the camp. “The courts function as they want.”

17:04 – Police have cleared the MDP Camp area after Azima Shukoor told the press that the area belongs to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) according to certain laws and claimed the Male’ City Council does not have authority to give the area to MDP.

Police also warned that they will use equal force against that which is used against them and warned everyone gathered to leave the area.

Media persons were also asked to leave the area, but they have later granted permission to stay.

16:55 – Haveeru has reported that security forces have been given a court warrant to proceed with dismantling the camp.

16:50 – Minivan News has witnessed security forces beginning to dismantle the camp, known among MDP supporters as “Justice Square.”

16:40 – Police confirm that they have made 64 arrests reportedly in connection to the violence that has taken place in the capital today.

16:40 – A police spokesperson told Minivan News that the decision to clear the area by MNDF and police officials was taken in response to the violence that engulfed the city this morning.

“All of the unlawful acts that are taking place across the city have been planned in this place,” the spokesperson claimed.