Over 10,000 Protest in Male’ to Free Nasheed – Gangs Attack Protesters Causing Injuries
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, and its ally the Jumhooree Party, staged a mass demonstration in Male’, Maldives, on Friday afternoon, calling for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed and other political prisoners.
Local media estimated the crowd at over 10,000 people. Males’ total population is 105,000.
Protesters poured onto the streets from 4 pm in spite of repeated threats by the government, which included a warning by the Maldives Police Service that people traveling from the outer islands to Male’ to protest would be punished.
Protesters held banners calling for President Nasheed’s immediate release. Other placards read: “Stop Brutality” and “Free Nazim” – referring to former Defense Minister Colonel (Ret.) Mohamed Nazim, who has also been jailed by President Yameen.
Up until 8pm local time, the protest passed off without incident.
Gang Attack – Police Look On
Shortly after 8pm, however, protesters, who were staging a peaceful sit-in outside Male’ City Hall, were attacked by what appeared to be members of a street gang, who wielded machetes and wooden planks.
An eyewitness, who asked not to be identified because of fears for her safety, told the Office of President Nasheed:
“Shortly after 8pm, Special Operations (SO) police arrived on the scene, as did members of a local gang who had machetes and wooden planks. The gang attacked the protesters. The police just stood there and watched the gang members attacking the protesters. There were injuries. I saw someone being carried away who was badly hurt.”
Commenting on the attack, MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said:
“President Yameen’s regime has shown it’s thuggish side once more this evening. Local gangs, presumably under the pay of the regime, have violently attacked peaceful protesters in the centre of Male’. This disgraceful incident is another stain on Yameen’s rule.”
Photos by Haveeru News