Opposition protest update: Total 38 arrested today

Police arresting a protester from “Where’s my flat?” protest carried out in Malé City by the opposition PPM and PNC coalition on March 5, 2021 | Photo: Nishan Ali

Malé, Maldives – Maldives Police Service has informed that they had arrested 38 individuals from todays protest in the capital, Malé City by the opposition.

Progress Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC) coalition had announced on March 1, 2021 that they will hold a ‘mega’ protest in Malé City today. 

While Maldives Police Service had barricaded all the routes to and from the oppositions main office in Malé, the protesters continued to protest in two locations of the capital.

Maldives Police Service (MPS) had previously arrested 30 protesters during the protest on February 26, 2021 stating that they were breaking the guidelines set by HPA. All the protesters except three were released the following day with a fine of MVR 1,000 per person for violating HPA regulations set out to curb the spread of Covid-19. Police revealed that three people from the arrested were not fined because they were arrested before the protest began. 

These protests comes after a series of rallies led by the opposition by taking to the streets of Male’ of which, the latest was in protest of the recently published list of “Hiyaa” flat winners.

The protests were initiated with the aim to bring justice to people who have lost or did not receive their apartments after ‘Hiyaa’ Public Housing Scheme was released on the 10th of February. Many protesters and police officers have suffered several injuries during clashes which have occurred during these demonstrations.

The PPM and PNC coalition decided to keep protesting and take action following a recent decision of the High Court, to uphold an earlier sentence by the Criminal Court’s which has led to Former President Yameen continue his 5 year money laundering sentence in Maafushi Prison.

Head of Malé City Police, Chief Superintendent of Police Abdullah Shareef has previously stated at a Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) press conference, that legal action would be taken against any further protests in the capital city. He added that the opposition has been advised against these protests multiple times and that further protests would be considered as an obstruction to justice.

However, Former Chief Justice of the Maldives Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Didi has said that legal action cannot be taken against the opposition for protesting, replying to statements from Maldives Police Service saying that protests are not allowed.

The opposition has continued to protest in Male’ by violating several guidelines released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While most protesters do wear masks, social distancing is not followed, which is very alarming as Covid cases in Maldives are at an all time high.