Opposition protesters arrested yesterday released with a fine

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

Malé, Maldives – Maldives Police Service (MPS) has released the seven protesters who were arrested in Malé City yesterday during the protest by the opposition.

Seven people including former parliamentarians, Mohamed Ismail and Mohamed Shahid, were released last night after being arrested yesterday evening.

While the opposition were faced with the consequences of violating the preventative measures put in place by Health Protection Agency (HPA), such as the banning of being out in public in groups of more than five, many have pointed out that the law enforcement authorities keep turning a blind eye to the same violations when made by the ruling party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

HPA had fined MDP by MVR 5,000 and the Opposition Coalition PPM & PNC has been fined by MVR 25,000 each which also resulted in heavy criticism by the public against HPA and Maldives Police Service for discriminating the opposition and ruling party while both had violated the HPA guidelines.

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.