COLOMBO – The Maldives opposition denounced on Saturday 17 protestors had been arrested in the latest round of defiance against the national state of emergency imposed a month ago.
President Abdulla Yameen’s state of emergency decision came after the Supreme Court revoked the sentences of several opposition lawmakers.
The opposition, led by the Maldivian Democratic Party, said in a joint statement that police had arrested 17 demonstrators, including three MP’s, during the latest protests in the archipelago, which began on Friday and continued early Saturday.
“President Yameen is abusing the Maldives Police Service to attack his political critics in the most cowardly way possible,” the opposition said in the statement.
Among those arrested are lawmakers, Abdulla Shahid, Abdulla Latheef and Abdulla Riyaz, as well as Mickail Naseem, president of the MDP’s youth wing, the statement added.
Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, exiled in the United Kingdom and currently in Colombo, demanded on his official Twitter account all 17 detainees be released “immediately.”
MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told EFE that although 17 people were “officially” arrested, “many more (were) removed from the protest and then released” and that even Nasheed’s mother had been attacked by anti-riot police.
According to the opposition, a total of 110 people have been arrested since President Abdulla Yameen imposed on Feb. 5 a national state of emergency of which 31 people remain in custody without trial.
The Maldives is experiencing deep political and institutional turmoil after a Feb. 1 Supreme Court ruling ordering the retrial and immediate release of nine opposition leaders, and the reinstatement of a dozen opposition MPs.
Yameen’s government initially said it would abide the order but later rejected it, declaring a state of emergency instead, claiming it had thwarted a coup attempt by former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, both currently in custody.
On Feb. 5, the president declared a 15-day state of emergency, which he later extended a further 30 days.