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#NameThatPolice: Police photo warning sparks social media outcry

Maldives on 30 March 2015
Location : Maldives | Source : Minivan News Image Source: Minivan News

The Maldives Police Services on Friday warned social media users against harassing and posting photos of individual officers online, prompting a social media outcry with dozens of Twitter users posting pictures of police brutality with the hashtag #NameThatPolice.

“Publicizing photos of individual police officers, with warnings, on social media is unacceptable,” the police said, claiming the act was aimed at intimidating police officers and inciting hatred towards the police force.

Appealing to social media users to be more responsible, the police warned of penalties against continued harassment.

The warning came after opposition supporters started circulating photos of individual police officers accusing them of criminality, brutality and bribery. The police statement, however, appears to have escalated matters.

Many photos posted by Twitter users were from the brutal police crackdown in the aftermath of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster on February 7, 2012. A Commonwealth backed national inquiry had recommended penalizing officers for brutality, but the opposition says the government had instead promoted officers accused of brutalizing proteMany photos posted by Twitter users were from the brutal police crackdown in the aftermath of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster on February 7, 2012. A Commonwealth backed national inquiry had recommended penalizing officers for brutality, but the opposition says the government had instead promoted officers accused of brutalizing protesters.

Mohamed Shaheed asked, “Are we not allowed to talk about this?”

Speaking to Minivan News, he said the public must publish photos of police brutality, “otherwise it will not stop.”
“This is not aimed at all police officers, just the ones who break the law,” he added.

Some tweets included comical photos of police carrying protesters to police vehicles.

“I think the warning by police is downright ridiculous. Nobody should tell us to stop speaking out against brutality. We will not remain silent when crimes are committed, be it police or any other state institution,” Twitter user Ibrahim Huzam told Minivan News.

“In addition to the lack of discipline and professionalism, police act very hostile towards the public, this is very wrong,” he added.

Tensions are high in Malé with the opposition protesting daily over the imprisonment of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim. Protests have now entered a seventh consecutive week.

Confrontations between police and protesters have increased recently, and hundreds including MPs and journalists have been arrested.

Chief Superintendent of Police Abdulla Nawaz on March 26 said inidivdual police officers have been confronted and intimidated at their homes, adding that efforts were underway to “psychologically weaken” police personnel

Nawaz also accused certain media outlets of attempting to falsely portray police as brutal towards civilians and said the media cut off live feed when protesters attacked police officers. He warned the police would arrest media personnel if they obstruct police duty.

Former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim has meanwhile accused the police’s Specialist Operations (SO) officers of framing him by planting illegal weapons at his home and committing criminal activities including the chopping down of Malé City’s Areca Palms in October last year.

The police have denied the accusations as baseless and untrue.

Nazim was sentenced to 11 years in jail on Thursday (March 26).
 

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