When riot police blocked hundreds of opposition supporters from marching in Malé for a third day today, they formed lines in front of police barricades this afternoon and prayed for deliverance from tyranny.
Defiant Maldivian Democratic Party supporters are continuing a 73 hour and 13 minute protest that began under the banner ‘Liberation’ on Friday.
Home Minister Umar Naseer says the government will not allow street protests, a move that human rights advocates say is unconstitutional.
Riot police have pepper-sprayed, beaten, arrested and tear-gassed protesters to prevent them from staging a march. The MDP is demanding the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed and other political prisoners.
After dusk prayers, hundreds of protesters continued the sit-in at the Artificial Beach grounds tonight. Some 1,500 protesters were gathered at the area at the protest’s peak. With speeches, protest songs and food, the atmosphere was festive and lively.
Anticipating a police crackdown tonight, dozens of MDP women’s wing members stole off down narrow lanes at midnight while others recited a prayer at the grounds, and are now marching through the streets.
— ahmed geem (@ahmed_geem) November 29, 2015
— Ham #FreePNasheed (@HamWahydd) November 29, 2015
At least one protester was arrested tonight. Charges are not clear yet.
— Aneh Velidhoo MDP ® (@AnehVelidhoo) November 29, 2015
This photo of a riot policeman pepper-spraying an unarmed woman went viral today.
— Huzam (@Huzam) November 29, 2015
Meanwhile, Nasheed’s 2013 running mate Dr Musthafa Luthfy was lauded as the hero of the day on Saturday after pictures of him kicking back a tear gas canister went viral. He was arrested soon afterwards and held for a day.
Free Musthafa Luthfy now pic.twitter.com/vD3ZJzetfA
— Abdull Sattar (@AbdullSattar) November 28, 2015
— Koba Magey Vote (@KobaMageyVote) November 29, 2015
— Ham #FreePNasheed (@HamWahydd) November 28, 2015
Of the 13 arrested on Saturday, only one remains in custody. MDP council member Anwar Ibrahim was remanded for five days today, charged with obstructing the administration of law. He was arrested from a café last night.
The MDP is reconvening for breakfast at 7:30am at its campaign offices, Haruge, tomorrow. The protest will end at 6pm tomorrow, the party has said.
Reporting by Shafaa Hameed and Hassan Mohamed