A dozen people were arrested from a protest organised by the opposition on Saturday night to mark Victory Day.
Shortly after the gathering began outside the Progressive Party of Maldives office in Malé around 8:30pm, police issued warnings through a loudspeaker and announced that the area was not designated for gatherings. Riot police officers then pushed back protesters and tried to clear the area, leading to clashes and arrests.
All 12 were released after they were briefly detained for obstruction and refusing to obey orders, police said. Turnout was estimated to be fewer than 200 people.
Speaking to the press after the protest ended around 10pm, former MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla said the protest was held because the authorities refused to permit a rally at the carnival grounds. He vowed to continue protesting against the alleged slander of Islam in a 2016 report by NGO Maldivian Democracy Network and heavily criticised President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s recent remarks about the controversy.
The opposition Progressive Coalition accused police officers of using obscene language and disproportionate force to disperse protesters and called on the government to respect the constitutional right to freedom of assembly, a call that was echoed by NGO Transparency Maldives, which noted that freedom of assembly was “a fundamental right enshrined in our Constitution and in a number of international agreements such as UDHR and ICCPR.”
Earlier on Saturday, police warned of action against demonstrations staged in violation of the 2013 freedom of assembly law, which was revised during the previous administration to require permission to gather in areas other than the carnival area in the capital’s eastern waterfront designated by the home ministry.
Government-sponsored legislation to reverse the changes is currently before parliament.
Victory Day marks a failed coup attempt by a group of Maldivians and Tamil mercenaries to overthrow former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on November 3, 1988. Some 19 people, including soldiers and two hostages taken by the fleeing mercenaries, were killed during the coup attempt, which was foiled after India deployed paratroopers to reclaim the capital.
Top photo of protesters from Twitter
Foreign minister thanks India in Victory Day message
In a message on the 31st anniversary of Victory Day, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid expressed gratitude to the Indian government for rescuing the Maldives from a mercenary attack.
“It is a day to value true friends and partnerships. The invaluable military support of the Indian Government on 3rd November 1988 remains etched in our hearts. Our highest gratitude and deepest appreciation shall never diminish,” he said.
“That fateful day showcased the special security threats and vulnerabilities faced by small states. That realisation made Maldives take up the issue at the United Nations – resulting in multiple resolutions on the security of small states and their vulnerability to external threats. The Maldives efforts in this regard, helped change the discourse on how small states are viewed and discussed in the international security debate.”
Police assist drifting Iranian boat
An Iranian boat was found drifting near the island of Mandhoo in Alif Dhaalu atoll around 8:30am on Sunday after its engine died.
There were seven Iranian men on board the wooden vessel. The coastguard was duly informed and the matter is under investigation, police said.
Man fined US$1,400 over alcohol vapour in juice packet
The criminal court fined a man MVR21,600 (US$1,400) last month on charges raised over alcohol vapour found in a juice packet in his possession.
According to the verdict, Ismail Nihan was arrested with another man from Malé’s industrial village on August 15 last year after police officers on patrol grew suspicious. The contents of a water bottle and juice packet from ‘The Berry Company’ found in his possession tested positive for alcohol vapour.
The judge opted for the fine after the defendant confessed during the trial. The possession offence carries a jail sentence of three months.
The sale of alcohol is prohibited by law on inhabited islands as its consumption is forbidden in Islam. But liquor and pork are imported to the Maldives in large quantities for sale on “uninhabited” resort islands.
Fisheries minister questioned over MMPRC scandal
Fisheries Minister Zaha Waheed was questioned at the police headquarters last week in relation to the theft of more than US$90 million from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation during the previous administration.
She is reportedly among seven top officials of the current administration on a list of 267 beneficiaries of the stolen funds. A police media official declined to confirm reports about Zaha’s questioning but said that several senior government officials have been summoned in recent days.
The fisheries minister told Raajje TV that she was questioned on Thursday night.
Weekly police statistics
Today on Twitter
On this auspicious Victory Day I thank Almighty Allah and pray that He bless the souls of our martyrs and convey my greetings to the beloved people of Maldives. I also thank the Indian authorities for their prompt assistance in defeating the terrorists. @ibusolih @sunjaysudhir
— Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (@maumoonagayoom) November 3, 2019
On #Victoryday, we pay tribute to 8 Maldivian martyrs for their supreme sacrifice.
We also salute the Indian Armed Forces for the swift & successful #OperationCactus executed at the request of Government of Maldives. @MEAIndia @MariyaDidi@maumoonagayoom@abdulla_shahid pic.twitter.com/K1y3CPmKKO
— India in Maldives (@EoIMaldives) November 3, 2019
Started the Victory Day with fajr prayers with all mndf personnel followed by the mounting of flags at the Victory Memorial and paying respects to the fallen heroes. pic.twitter.com/z41neHIboM
— Chief of Defence Force MG.Abdulla Shamaal (@CDFofMNDF) November 3, 2019
Greetings on the occasion of Victory Day. May Allah (SWT) grant Jannah to all soldiers and civilians who sacrificed their lives for this nation on 3rd Nov. 1988, and may their families be always blessed. We continue to draw inspiration and courage from that day. @MNDF_Official pic.twitter.com/7NwTUDd3MC
— Mohamed Hameed (@M_Hameedh) November 3, 2019