The political crisis in the Maldives took an ugly turn on Wednesday 8 February, 2012, when police brutally beat and injured supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Nasheed as they protested against what they claimed to be a coup that removed the island nation's first democratically elected president from power.
In the riots that followed, Nasheed's supporters torched and destroyed a number of police stations, courts, local council offices and other public buildings. Scores of police officers were hurt in the violence too.
Earlier in the day, in a meeting of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the party which won the first multiparty election of the Maldives in 2008 and brought Nasheed to presidency, the deposed President announced that his resignation on Tuesday was coerced.
“We will come to power again,” Nasheed said. “We will never step back. I will not accept this coup and will bring justice to the Maldivians.”
Nasheed and his supporters then marched through the capital Malé and faced a line of police behind shields near the island's main square, just next to military and police headquarters. The protesters threw bottles and stones at the police while the police fired teargas canisters into the crowd. The confrontation between the two sides ended in a brutal crackdown by police, leading to blood-soaked protesters being rushed to hospitals. Among those hurt were members of parliament and senior leaders of Nasheed's party.
Another video shows police dragging an MP and Nasheed out of a shop after dispersing the crowd. Nasheed was released after a debate between the policemen about whether he should be arrested or not. This video shows a blood-soaked man narrating how the police beat him up.
Yameen blogs about the events that took place in Malé:
There is a brutal, concerted effort by the runaway police department to crush protests by supporters of President Nasheed, following his release today.
I have personally witnessed the heavy handed tactics employed to combat MDP activists, energized by the release of President Nasheed earlier today after yesterday's coup d'etat that forced him to resign.
Tear gas was used indiscriminately on Orchid magu near the Supreme court building. Two people were beaten up and lay motionless on the street for a long time before they were dragged and shoved into an ambulance.
Then I saw a police jeep speeding into a crowd of protesters. A police jeep. Absolutely reprehensible.
Muju Naeem ponders if the Maldives has turned into a military dictatorship:
So if President Waheed did not give the order, then we can safely assume that the security forces were acting on their own. What this means is that we have incidentally slipped into a military/police dictatorship where the executive is there only in name only.
Maldives has become a police state.
Maldivian Twitter users have started using 3 hashtags to tell their story. Please follow;
Following the events in the capital, Nasheed's supporters responded by rioting in outer islands, setting police stations on fire, throwing stones at policemen on duty and burning down courts and several other public buildings. In a number of islands they drove the police out and seized the police stations.
Maldivians and foreigners are tweeting about the new wave of violence that has gripped the holiday haven.
foram divrania tweets:
@divrania: Peace to Maldives..ur too beautiful for politics and violence.
@reallynattu: “@hisherm: I don't support any political parties. I support Maldives.” Including Me!
There is an eerie calm in the islands and the capital on Thursday as people remain tense about what could happen next. In a press conference, the commanders of the police and military assured that order will be restored and promised to investigate the previous day's violence.
Speaking to journalists at his residence, Nasheed said he was forced to resign by some military personnel as the country's police force mutinied against his rule. Calling for fresh elections, he vowed to come back to power and reassured that he has no intention of grabbing power through street riots. He also condemned the acts of violence his supporters had committed in various islands.