39 arrested in opposition protest refuse Covid-19 testing

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

Malé, Maldives – 39 people arrested from the opposition protests held in Malé yesterday, have refused to give their sample to test for Covid-19.

Maldives Police Service said that 39 people were brought into police custody in relation to the protest. Police added that their samples were requested as the protests were in violation of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the detainees had come in contact with a large number of police officers.

In addition to being participants of a protest held against HPA guidelines, they have also come in contact with a large number of policemen and the Custodial Jail is a place where lots of people are detained, which is why the samples were requested as a precautionary measure. However, all of them have refused to give their sample.

Maldives Police

According to Police, all the protesters except three have now been released 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.

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-19 cases in Maldives are at an all time high.