The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) strongly condemns the unlawful disruptions and harassment of its continuous peaceful protest and the Police’s use of excessive force against protesters. Police behavior towards protesters has been unprofessional and abusive, demonstrating that their operational independence is directly compromised by the Government’s political objectives.
On Friday night the MDP’s demonstration was unlawfully disrupted at approximately 1045 pm. The Police unplugged the electricity at the protest site, after entering the MDP’s campaign office without a warrant, and dispersed the crowd onto the road, blocking off all main roads leading out of the protest area. Protesters were heavily pepper sprayed at close range. MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz, Deputy Chairperson Ali Shiyam, and former Cabinet Minister Mohamed Aslam were among some of the protesters who had to be hospitalized for further treatment.
At approximately 1am MDP Member of Parliament Mohamed Rasheed Hussain was detained and beaten inside the police vehicle while he was taken to the Police Headquarters. Inside the vehicle, police beat him with their fists, caps and batons. He was only released once other police officers at the headquarters realized he was a Member of Parliament.
On Saturday, MDP members again gathered at the protest site to prepare for a peaceful march. As soon as protesters began walking, the police immediately blocked all roads unlawfully stating that people were not allowed to protest on the street. Demonstrators including Members of Parliament, and the leader of MDP’s Parliamentary Group, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih were heavily pepper sprayed at close range by riot police. Two teargas canisters were thrown into the Artificial Beach area, which includes a swimming area and children’s playground. People were indiscriminately pepper sprayed and forced to leave the area by riot Police.
3 protesters were taken by ambulance for further treatment as a result of being pepper sprayed at close range, combined with the affects of the tear gas. Deputy Mayor of Male’ and MDP’s Women’s Wing President Shifa Mohamed was also manhandled by Police.
The Police for the third time entered MDP campaign office without a court warrant, again unplugging the electricity.
13 protesters have been arrested, including President Nasheed’s 2013 running mate and former Education Minister Musthafa Luthfy and MDP national council member Mohamed Waheed.
The MDP calls upon the international community to impress upon the government of Maldives to protect people’s constitutional rights and to stop using the police service as a tool to suppress the political opposition.
MDP’s International Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Gafoor said, ‘the deterioration of democratic rights is increasingly evident as the Government uses a Police service the President himself claimed to be compromised to arbitrarily restrict the right to assembly’.