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Expat workers warned against protesting

There have been regular opposition protests in the capital demanding the release of high-profile prisoners.



Action will be taken against migrant workers who participate in any political activity, immigration authorities said Wednesday ahead of an opposition rally.

There have been regular protests in the capital for two weeks demanding the release of high-profile prisoners.

A state of emergency, announced by President Abdulla Yameen in response to an alleged coup plot, has knocked crowd numbers and so has a tough police presence.

“Participation in any political activities will violate the conditions in which the visa is issued for expatriate workers,” said Maldives Immigration, adding it had received reports of migrant workers being encouraged to participate in an opposition rally this Friday.

“Furthermore, we warn if any expatriate is found violating immigration laws and participating in any political activity will be subject to strict penalties irrespective of nationality, or capacity of employment.”

It also warned that employers would be penalised and called on them to discourage expat participation.

Lawmaker and opposition spokesman Ahmed Mahloof denied calling on expat workers to attend protests, saying it was a government ruse.

“It’s a lie. We haven’t called for expatriates to participate. The police are saying that to make the situation worse. We had talks of having a rally for the 16th, but we haven’t even officially announced it. They’re saying this to intimidate.”

The police and the army on Monday warned the opposition they would prevent anything that would “disrupt the peace established in the country.”

The opposition said Friday’s rally would be a “warm-up” for a bigger event and later met police to ask for their cooperation.

Maldives Immigration has previously banned migrant workers from protesting, threatening to cancel their visas.

In 2015 local media reported that migrant workers wanted to protest against discrimination after a crime spike saw two Bangladeshis killed and another three stabbed.