MDP announces three-day protest

MDP announces three-day protest
November 25 18:01 2015

A protest on November 27 urging the release of political prisoners will last for three days and 13 minutes, the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has announced.

Supporters have been asked to gather at the Artificial Beach at 4:30pm on Friday. The MDP said it will organize water and food and make arrangements for supporters to perform prayers, including water for ablutions.

The protest, titled Emancipation, is aimed at pressuring President Abdulla Yameen to release political prisoners including former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.

Former Vice Presidents Ahmed Adeeb and Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed’s supporters have announced they too will join the protest. Adeeb has been detained on suspicion of links to the September 28 blast on Yameen’s speedboat, while Jameel is living in self-imposed exile in London.

MDP Deputy Chairperson Ali Shiyam said: “We request supporters to stay as long as they can at the Artificial Beach area and other parts of Malé where the protest is scheduled to take place.”

The MDP said it will present demands to the government on Friday. “Our demands won’t be difficult and will not take much time for the government to fulfill. We have agreed upon certain demands that definitely will not take 73 hours for the government to fulfill.”

He declined to reveal the demands today.

The MDP is making a final push to mobilize people, stepping up door-to-door campaigns to canvass support, and meetings with its supporters across the country. T-shirts and banners are being printed at its campaign offices in Malé throughout the day.

The party is also making travel arrangements for supporters from the remote atolls to join the protests.

“Many are already in Male’ and many more will come before Friday,” Secretary General Anas Abdul Sattar said.

New protest songs have been unveiled and supporters are using the #Minjuvaan to tweet about the protest.

The protest was initially scheduled for November 6, but was called off when Yameen announced an unprecedented nationwide emergency for 30 days. The emergency was lifted just six days later following international criticism and booking cancellations at resorts.

It is unclear if the government will allow protesters to remain on the streets. The president’s office was not responding to calls at the time of going to press. The Elections Commission, police officers and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives met last week over the protest.

The EC has since appealed to the party to obey the law.

The November 27 protest is the party’s fourth mass protest this year. MDP has gathered historic numbers at the May 1 and February 27 rallies, but has so far not been able to effect a change in the government’s stance.

Aminath Shauna, a member of the MDP’s press committee, said she expects a higher turnout than at the historic May Day rally, which brought out 20,000 people to the streets.

The protest is taking place just as schools closed for the academic year, “so we believe the turnout will be higher,” she said.

“Our request is that even people who cannot walk, to come out to their balconies, to their doorsteps, to the closes main road and show us support to end tyranny.”

MDP members have previously said they hope to exploit Yameen’s apparent shaky grip on power with the November 27 protest. The boat blast has resulted in the sacking of the defence minister and the police chief and a wide shakeup of the security forces.

A UN human rights panel has ruled Nasheed’s imprisonment illegal, but Yameen says it is up to the Supreme Court to release the opposition leader.

Additional reporting by Shafaa Hameed