Maldives Police Service, on Friday, arrested 11 individuals from a protest organised in the capital city of Male' by the opposition coalition of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC).
The demontration in Male' was part of a string of protests held across the archipelago under the name ‘Insaafu Kobaa’ (loosely translates to ‘Where is Justice’). Protestors demanded the relase of jailed former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and called for a free and fair election.
According to opposition spokesperson Heena Waleed, a PPM council member and the heads of certain party committees were among those that were apprehended.
Heena further revealed that protesters sustained injuries of varying degrees as a result of police efforts to disperse the protest through the use of force and pepper spray, with one individual being taken to ADK hospital after losing conciousness.
The government has been heavily cracking down on opposition protests and gatherings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, often citing their violations of the Health Protections Agency (HPA) guidelines.
However, the opposition has claimed that the state is using the COVID-19 pandemic to oppress the parties, and hinder their activities, including their campaign for the upcoming local council elections.
After Maldives’ High Court upheld the verdict imprisoning ex-president Yameen during the appeal cases’ first live-broadcasted hearing on January 21, the opposition coalition strengthened efforts to pressure the incumbent administration, stating that their new strategy was to “demonstrate” their resolve.
Yameen Abdul Gayoom was jailed on money laundering charges linked to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC)'s embezzlement scandal which resulted in a potential loss of MVR 4 billion in state revenue.