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Police dispute credibility of leaked memo ordering imprisonment of MDP supporters on Thinadhoo

Maldives on 06 August 2013
Location : Maldives | Source : Minivan News. Image Source: Minivan News

Police have issued a statement denying the authenticity of memo which supposedly a memo sent to senior officers by Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz, informing them of a special operation to arrest Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters on Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.

The document, circulating on social media, states that the arrests were to be made in compliance with an order from President Dr Waheed Hassan Manik.

Police have disputed the credibility of memo, stating that the letterhead used in the document was one never used by police.

A statement issued by police said the allegedly forged memo was an attempt to intentionally discredit the police service for the sake of political benefit, and condemned the act as “uncivilised”.

”Despite the fact that these types of documents are circulating in the media, police will not hesitate to take any action required to investigate criminal offences according to procedure,” the police statement read.

The statement said police will not discriminate in an investigation and would always rely on evidence, regardless of a person’s field of work.

Police also said they could only hold a person in detention for 24 hours without a warrant from the court.

According to the leaked document, during a political rally on Thinadhoo Dr Waheed was obstructed by MDP members and several members of his delegation assaulted.

According to the letter, attributed to Commissioner Riyaz, Dr Waheed “asked me to arrest and apprehend everyone involved in the protests held on Thinadhoo that day and keep them locked in Gaafu Alifu Villingili Police Station until the end of the presidential elections.”

The last paragraph urges senior officers to keep the objective of the operation hidden from lower ranks.

President Waheed’s maiden campaign trip to Thinadhoo in June was met by hundreds of angry protesters who came out in opposition to the government’s heavy crackdown on the island following Waheed’s controversial ascension to power on February 7, 2012.

Following the scuffle on Thinadhoo – Waheed’s mother’s home island – the President expressed frustration over the incident on social media service Twitter, in which he blamed Nasheed and the MDP and declared that such actions “do not bear well for a free and fair election”.

According to media reports, objects including water bottles were thrown at Waheed.

Thinadhoo saw some of the strongest reactions to the February 8 crackdown on protesters in Male’, with government offices and police stations destroyed across the island. Islanders were also reported to have blockaded the arrival of police reinforcements for days afterwards.

Police eventually arrested 17 people and later sent the names of 108 persons involved in the demonstrations for prosecution.

The ‘bittersweet’ rally

During his visit to Thinadhoo in June, Waheed spoke about how his mother was subjected to torture and inhumane treatment following her mild criticism of Gayoom’s regime, as said his trip to her island was “bittersweet”.

“As you would all know, back [during Gayoom’s regime] the political environment was such that criticising the government was a big crime. My mother while watching the TV said that Gayoom had lied. After that it was a very bitter experience,” he recalled.

“The poor lady was dragged to court, people gathered around her on the streets and pulled her hair, spat on her and committed other derogatory acts at that time in Male’.”

Waheed claimed that his mother never had any involvement in local politics and admitted that none of his family members would forget how Gayoom’s regime treated his mother.

Waheed said that despite this, the circumstances following the controversial resignation of former President Nasheed required him to take over the presidency. For that reason, Waheed said he had invited all political parties in the country to join his government.

“Among these [members of political parties] included those who caused such grief to my family. It is not that I don’t know who these people are, or that I chose to work with them. What was best for the country at that moment was for me to set aside my personal vengeance and to prioritise the country before my personal emotions,” he contended.

“Some of my family members could not take that. The result was that some of them, to this date, do not speak with me. Some of them even live in this island,” he said.

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