Three MPs among detainees from #OccupyMajeedheeMagu protest

Three MPs among detainees from #OccupyMajeedheeMagu protest
March 03 17:14 2018

Three MPs were among 17 arrested Friday from the opposition’s ‘Occupy Majeedhee Magu’ protest in the capital.

Special Ops police in riot gear moved in swiftly after opposition supporters gathered around 4:30 pm in four spots along Malé’s main thoroughfare, setting up barricades, pepper spraying and charging protesters.

MPs Abdulla Shahid, Abdulla Riyaz and Abdul Latheef Mohamed, along with several activists and council members of the Maldivian Democratic Party, were taken to the Dhoonidhoo detention centre.

The opposition lawmakers remain in custody but some detainees were reportedly released Saturday afternoon, including an MDP youth wing member and a supporter of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

MDP MP Shahid, a former speaker of parliament, and Latheef, an independent stripped of his seat, are accused of obstructing police duty, defence lawyer Hisaan Hussain told local media. The charges against Jumhooree Party MP Riyaz, a former police commissioner, were not disclosed as police have decided he was arrested under the state of emergency, she said.

Demonstrations also took place on several other islands across the country Friday afternoon and resumed in Malé later that night. Opposition MPs told reporters it will continue indefinitely and urged more people to join.

At a press conference shortly after the protest started, MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, defended police for enforcing the freedom of assembly law, which was controversially amended to restrict protests in the capital to one authorised zone.

Less than 100 people answered the opposition’s call to fill Majeedhee Magu, he claimed.

Defying the suspension of the right to freedom of assembly, opposition supporters have been on the streets for more than a month, demanding the execution of a Supreme Court order for the release of political prisoners and reinstatement of 12 lawmakers.

President Abdulla Yameen reacted by declaring a state of emergency and arresting his half-brother Gayoom and two Supreme Court justices over what his supporters have called a “judicial coup” to remove him from power.

MPs Faris Maumoon, Abdulla Sinan and Ilham Ahmed were also detained in connection with the alleged coup plot and opposition spokesman MP Ahmed Mahloof was arrested while leading the nightly protests.

With constitutional rights on arrest and detention suspended, the lawmakers are expected to be detained until the state of emergency is lifted. The opposition disputes the legality of both the state of emergency and subsequent rulings in favour of the government by the three remaining Supreme Court justices.

Update on 6 pm: MPs Shahid and Latheef have been released.

A photo of former president Nasheed’s mother Abidha Ahmed calling for the release of former president Gayoom’s son caught the media and public’s attention. Nasheed was jailed several times during Gayoom’s 30-year rule.

Photos of a disabled protester were also widely shared.

Photo: Twitter