President Yameen Ramps Up Repression Ahead of Saudi King’s Visit

16 March 2017, MALE: President Yameen has intensified his crackdown on Maldivians who dare to criticize Saudi Arabia, days ahead of the scheduled visit of King Salman, and days before the Opposition’s planned protest on 24 March against the Faafu deal.

On Thursday, Police raided the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) meeting hall for a third time in two weeks. Police sealed off the hall and refused to let MDP officials enter the building.

A court warrant authorising police to raid the meeting hall stated that the “opposition was attempting conduct activities that could be demeaning to the dignity, honour and respect of visiting dignitaries as well as the sovereignty of their nations.”
Also on Thursday, Police detained Mohammed Shavin, an artist, and questioned him over the production of t-shirts criticizing the Faafu sell-off.

Last week police summoned prominent social media activists and confiscated their phones.

Throughout the Maldives, at President Yameen’s behest, the Police have seized banners protesting the sale of Faafu, citing “offenses against a visiting dignitary.”

The MDP condemns these unconstitutional acts by the Government, and urges the Maldivian Police Services and the Maldivian Courts not to enable arbitrary actions that encroach on people’s freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

President Yameen is once again using the Maldivian Police Services’ Special Forces as his own personal gang of dacoits to loot and ransack MDP’s property and material; the MDP views these actions as criminal offenses against this party and its supporters.

MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Gafoor said:

“The sale of Faafu atoll to a foreign government is a fundamental threat to Maldivian sovereignty and has sparked outrage across the country.”

“It appears that President Yameen is willing to go to any lengths to secure the sale of Faafu Atoll to the Saudis, despite growing public outrage. It is astonishing that the Saudi Royal Family appears willing to enter into such a murky deal with President Yameen – a known fraudster, money-launderer and embezzler.”