17 March 2018, Male’: Approximately 140 pro-democracy supporters were arrested Friday evening, in the biggest anti-Yameen protest to rock the Maldives since May Day 2015.
Thousands of opposition supporters poured onto the streets of the capital from 8:30pm, blocking the major commercial thoroughfares of Majeedhee Magu and Chandaanee Magu.
Ignoring President Yameen’s edicts banning protests, and braving police and army pepper spray and tear gas, the protests swelled to thousands strong by the early hours of Saturday morning. Protesters charged into the ‘green’ high security zone of Republican Square, calling for Yameen’s resignation, the release of political prisoners, and for the implementation of the 1 February Supreme Court ruling.
The protests continued until around 4am Saturday, as the regime deployed the army onto Male’s streets, who fired tear gas at demonstrators.
Those arrested include MDP and the Joint Opposition’s Parliamentary Group leader Ibrahim Solih, JP MP Hussein Mohamed, deputy leader of MDP Parliamentary Group, MP Ali Azim, several opposition parties’ officials, and several women demonstrators.
In spite of six weeks of a Yameen-imposed State of Emergency, and hundreds of arrests, nightly protests have only grown in size and duration.
A increasing number of police and military personnel have also been detained in recent days — highlighting major splits and growing anger within the security services towards President Yameen and his unlawful orders.
Friday also witnessed protests across other islands, including in all the major populations.
Commenting on the mass arrests, a Joint Opposition spokesperson said:
“Yameen’s tear gas, pepper spray, and mass arrests do not intimidate Maldivians, who’s resistance to this illegitimate president only grows stronger.
“Yameen’s regime has entered its death spiral. It’s only a matter of time before he is toppled, and democracy, Constitutional order, and the rule of law can be restored. Maldivian will continue to protest this regime.”