The lying Pinocchio of Maldives: Yameen and his sponsored news outlets

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In a recent article published by Dhiyares, they gave a statistics about arrests made during Yameen’s administration and compared it to Ibu’s regime.

It stated that a total of 417 people were arrested while protesting from the year 2019- till date. Whereas the timeline from 2014-2018 showed a record high arrests of 527 people getting arrested from protest grounds.

The tallied numbers given in the article doesn’t add up to how the author wanted to direct the message at.

In actual, out of the 417 people arrested, 236 are recorded from 2021. Most of the arrests made in 2021 were due to lockdown regulations and because of state public health emergency, which prohibited gatherings and banned many from gathering.

The site claiming that these were protesters that were arrested is false. According to our findings, only 55 people were arrested from protests in 2022. But the site has made bold statements and hinted that the current administration was obstructing freedom of assembly.

Freedom of Assembly,” most ignored human right by Yameen:

Does anyone remember the time when Yameen ratified the first amendment to the ‘Freedom Of Peaceful Assembly Act?’

The amendment stipulated that street protests, marches, parades, and “other such gatherings can only be held with written permission from the police, or in areas designated by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

This meant that power was not only with the President but even with the police and the Ministry who could impose ban by just withdrawing permissions. Maldives today is not like that, no one needs to seek permission to hold a peaceful protest.

The latest rift is about the content and the kind of message a protest can carry, which can also undermine Maldives relationships with international partners. So, the wolf cry by the opposition calling the act as “obstruction of freedom of assembly” is a rather exaggerated in the line of context where Yameen has already set an example in the past.

Bringing the crime stats to the table, also backing the claims with a valid source:

If we are to really compare how Yameen’s administration worked and how President Ibu is working, lets take a look at the list of registered crime data that has been recorded in Maldives Police Service official website.

Yameen’s Era 2014-2018:

Pres Ibu 2019- 2022:

These stats are as recorded by the Maldives Police and we can see a significant decrease in the number of crime cases being registered. Especially crimes relating drugs, drastically decreased from 11K to 5K.

Murder in Maldives:

Cases of abduction, gang violence and murder peaked under Yameen’s administration.

  • 30 murders in total from 2014-2019.
  • Out of the 30 killed, 11 deaths were from gang violence.
  • From 2015-2017, the average number of murders per year was 6

Unfiltered facts:

The article from Dhiyares claimed that former President Yameen’s five years in office has been marked by mass protests and unrest in the opposition.

Says that such large scale protest has not been held in the country since then— May Protest from 2015 in the wake to release Mohamed Nasheed from prison and the second on Feb 2018, in an attempt to overthrow the government.

The article claims that a total of about 186 protesters were arrested in the May Protest and a total of 256 people in the 2018 protest but these are numbers that we cannot be certainly sure about as it doesn’t include the number of people who were detained under the name of ‘investigation.’

If we recall the 2018 protest, a state emergency was declared by Yameen following the event. Police at that time refused to give details about how many were arrested. Many of the arrests went unaccounted. Many of the assaults were not registered.

Arrested journalists who were covering the protest:

  • Seven journalists and cameramen from two private TV stations arrested while covering a protest outside the MDP meeting hall
  • Accused of obstructing police duty while SO officers attempted to disperse the “unlawful gathering”.
  • Alleged that police manhandled journalist during the arrest

May Day Protests- The testimonies lives on:

Largest anti-govt protest in the Maldivian history with nearly 25,000 protesters hosting and taking part in it. Its been estimated that about 200 people were arrested on that faithful day. Many of who were held captive for days, months and years without trial.

Some of the people who got arrested that day were innocent people who had no active role to play in that scenario but were taken in forcefully by the police without the chance given to speak for themselves.

Who else can better describe other than the one who has experienced it first hand?

Yes, this is the same blogger Yameen Rasheed who was mercilessly stabbed to death inside his apartment in April 2017. He was one of the many arrested on that faithful day and held captive for almost a month.

Its a splendid read, his three part series article detailing about what went in between court rooms, to how they were deprived of basic rights. It gives you a closure about what went down behind the curtains.

In one of his excerpts Rasheed says, “there were 193 political detainees locked up in Dhoonidhoo that first night.” This gives us an idea that there were more than 186 people arrested, as claimed by the stats given in the article.

Ibrahim Laban Shareef:

Laban was the goalkeeper of football club Eagles. He was arrested three days after the mass rally when he arrived for practice at the Maafanu sports grounds in Malé.

He was released after being held captive for 3 years.

Nasira Ali was sentenced to five years in prison on July 25, 2016 but was granted conditional release by the Clemency board.While many made it out after serving their time, a detainee ended dying in custody.

Abdulla Rasheed arrested during the May Day Protest, he was serving a five year sentence. He died from hypovolemic shock according to his death certificate.

Its been reported that the family had gone to Malé prison to request medical treatment after learning his illness.

Abdulla Rasheed’s death marked the seventh custodial death between 2016-2017. Yameen’s regime also saw an increase in the numbers of dead inmates, most of which were reported as cause of death “unknown.”

This was the reality of Maldives not too long ago. We have struggled a lot to get to where we today and we still have a long way to go before we can ensure that every Maldivian enjoys democratic rights. But the leap from Yameen’s era is a big plunge in itself.

Misinformation & disinformation has long been the favorite tool of the opposition to gain political millage, but lets not be gullible enough to fall into the same trap twice.