Reference No: 60/5/2012
29 May 2012
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) expresses deep concernover the Maldives Police Services’ (MPS) searching of Usfagandu, where MDP has held pro-democracy rallies in Male’ since the MPS and the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) forcefully dismantled the previous rally ground on 19 March.
Police officers entered Usfasgandu, which is under the authority of Male’ City Council (MCC), on Tuesday morning at 8.00 am with a search warrant issued by the Criminal Court
on Monday 3.15pm, without prior warning to the Male’ City Council or the MDP. This is in clear violation of the basic rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. MPS actions today further undermine powers of the country’s first local authorities as elected
under the Decentralisation Act.
The search warrant was issued for the following reasons:
1. On 22 April 2012 at 10 pm, a MPS vehicle (reg. no. AB2A S1115) was confronted with derogatory language and the vehicle was vandalized.
2. On 9 May 2012, while MNDF were conducting a shooting drill, a group that came out of Usfasgandu obstructed the drill and MNDF vehicles and Police duty on the street.
3. On 25 May 2012 in the rally organized by MDP, a cursed rooster was released on the street (HaveereeHingun and FenfiyaazuGoalhi).
The MDP feel this is a deliberate attempt by Dr. Waheed’s regime to delay serious work on all party talks and the inquiry commission’s work, which the regime had agreed with the Commonwealth’s Special Envoy, Sir Donald McKinnon, to begin on 1 June.
“Police actions today are not in good faith. It is an attempt to provoke MDP supporters and to destabilize the situation to avoid starting the inquiry commission’s work that has to begin by June 1’ said Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, MDP spokesperson for international affairs.
“Since the coup, the current regime’s decisions have undermined the powers of the Male’ City Council. Usfasgandu is under the authority of the City Council and they were not even informed of the search warrant. Police have again forcefully entered our rally grounds to
crush democracy and peoples right to freedom of assembly and speech’ he added.
On March 19, MPS and MNDF officers forcefully entered and dismantled ‘Raalhugandu’, claiming the land belonged to the MNDF and that it’s a public area. MDP held pro democracy rallies in ‘Raalhugandu’ against the regime since February 17. Although the area was used with the permission of the Male’ City Council (MCC) and it was transferred to the MCC during the MDP Government, the current regime refused to allow MDP to use the area for its rallies.
MDP then, requested MMC to use ‘Usfasgandu’, an area adjacent to the ‘Raalhugandu’. MCC has been threatened by the Ministry of Housing and Environment to take away ‘Usfasgandu’ from Male’ City Council. A warning letter has been sent from the Ministry to MCC to handover the grounds to the Ministry latest by 14th May.
The government has also begun taking action to transfer Dharubaaruge, Sultan Park and the Artificial Beach area to the central government, despite these properties having been previously transferred to the authority of Male’ City Council. When the City Council tried to assert its mandate, the regimehas used force to assert its illegitimate authority.
Hamid Abdul Ghafoor
Spokesperson, International Affairs