Reference No: 77/07/2012
13 July 2012
“Civil and Political Rights in Full Retreat in the Maldives” – MDP
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) today accused the Dr. Waheed’s regime of systematically undermining civil and political rights in the Maldives since assuming office in a coup on February 7.
In a report to the Human Rights Committee in Geneva – the expert body responsible for monitoring compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – the MDP noted the brutal police crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy supporters over the past 72 hours, which has left dozens injured, including Members of Parliament and journalists.
Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, MDP international spokesperson, said: “civil and political rights are in full retreat. The police are responsible for daily human rights violations but nobody is ever prosecuted for these crimes – impunity has become the norm.”
Hundreds of pro-democracy supporters have taken peacefully to the streets in recent days, calling for early elections and the restoration of democracy. The police have responded violently, baton-charging demonstrators, using pepper spray and reportedly firing rubber bullets at unarmed protesters. Over hundred protesters have been arrested, with some accusing the police of abuse during arrest and detention. The police detained at least 2 women with special needs assistance on Wednesday and Thursday. Demonstrators were always within demonstrating area set by regulation when police violently dispersed the crowd. On Thursday night and early Friday morning some were rushed to the hospital while one still remains in ICU under critical condition.
In the early hours of Friday morning, the Maldives’ former Human Rights Ambassador, Mohamed Latheef, was beaten at around 2 am on Friday and arrested by police. The elected Mayor of Male Maizan Ali Manik was part of a crowd that was baton charged by police at around 2.30 am on Friday. Additionally, MP Mariya Didi has been issued death threats ‘to protect Islam’ on social media under the Twitter account @MNDF_MPS. More MPs were pepper sprayed at close range and were hit with shields.
Hamid also condemned the police’s repeated assaults on journalists. “The MDP notes with concern the police’s continued and persistent targeting of opposition-leaning journalists.” For instance, Raajje TV’s cameraman Ahmed Shanoon was baton-charged and he fell unconscious on the spot during police crackdown on Wednesday’s protests. Asward Ibrahim, Raajje TV’s head of news was also arrested violently by the police. (0:06-0:14, Police attack Asward Ibrahim – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ0ydcERP0U&feature=player_embedded).
On Thursday night, Raajje TV stopped their live broadcast of the protests after death threats were issued to their reporters and members of staff. Deputy CEO of Raajje TV Yaameen Rasheed said, “Police gave death threats to RTV journalists and officials.” Furthermore, on their official twitter account, RTV stated “RaajjeTV commentator at the scene of the protest pepper sprayed by the police last night & anonymous callers threatening to attack station.”
The Government is defending its human rights record in Geneva to the Human Rights Committee.
“The Government’s delegation in Geneva is led by a Home Minister who has: published pamphlets inciting religious hatred against Jews and Christians (http://minivannews.com/politics/translation-president-nasheed’s-devious-plot-to-destroy-the-islamic-faith-of-maldivians-30991)pledged that President Nasheed will go to prison forever; and has called for the reinstatement of the death penalty. Sending such a man to defend the Government in Geneva is symbolic of the Waheed government’s total disdain for human rights,” said Hamid.
Hamid noted that President Nasheed’s government, in contrast to the Waheed administration, had a positive human rights record:
“From the moment the Maldives ratified the Covenant in 2006 to the time of the coup d’etat in February, we had made enormous progress in implementing the rights enshrined in international treaties. In fact, the Maldives became known internationally as a country fully committed to human rights.”
“In 2009 and 2010, the Maldives rose steadily in press freedom rankings but today journalists are arrested and beaten, and opposition media are blocked from airing across the country.
“In the past, the police and authorities respected freedom of assembly, today they suppress it, beating and abusing protesters, and regularly using water cannons, batons and rubber bullets. And whereas for the past four years there have been no allegations of torture in places of detention, today there are again allegations of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” Hamid said.
“Most egregiously, President Waheed is violating fundamental democratic rights. By refusing to call elections, he is violating the hard-won right of all Maldivians to elect their own government, preferring instead to delude himself that he has a democratic mandate because he was previously an unknown and unpopular vice-president. His Government is also rolling back the right to life – arguing in favour of removing our long-standing moratorium on the death penalty.”
Hamid Abdul Ghafoor
Spokesperson, International Affair