Tags: Maldives | politics | unrest | rights | Amnesty

Attacks, Intimidation on Rise in Maldives

Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 05:31 AM

Protesters are being frequently beaten up while the media faces a growing number of death threats in the Maldives, Amnesty International said Thursday, after a fact-finding mission to the honeymoon islands.

Peaceful demonstrators were often doused with petrol in the capital Male by criminal gangs known to police in an escalating and violent campaign of intimidation against critics of the government, the group said.

"The international community must wake up and realize that behind the facade of a tourist paradise, there is a dark trend in the Maldives where the human rights situation is rapidly deteriorating," Abbas Faiz, Amnesty's Maldives researcher, told reporters in New Delhi.

The U.N. and Western nations expressed concern last month when former president Mohamed Nasheed was jailed for 13 years on anti-terror charges in what his party said was a politically motivated move to silence him.

Faiz said harassment and attacks as well as denial of justice by the courts were increasingly common against anyone voicing dissent against the government.

"We are talking about a government which is trying very hard to use the country's institutions to impose an atmosphere of fear," he said.

Faiz stopped short of urging foreign tourists to boycott the tropical archipelago, instead calling on neighboring giant India to pressure the Maldives government to halt the campaign.

President Abdulla Yameen has called on foreign governments to respect the conviction of Nasheed, the country's first democratically-elected president who was toppled in 2012 after what he called a coup.

Amnesty's researchers spent five days in the Maldives this month interviewing lawyers, journalists and activists, although they were denied access to Nasheed and government officials declined to meet them.

Some 140 protesters have been arrested since February and later released without charge, while attacks, threats and arrests of journalists were rising, the researchers found.

Vigilante groups linked to Muslim associations were attacking known atheists and breaking up social activities, such as music events, perceived to be anti-religious, Faiz said.

Criminal gangs were violently attacking the small, peaceful political protests taking place almost daily in Male, with police turning a blind eye, he said.

"Political tensions are already at a boiling point, and further harassment and attacks on those opposing the authorities will only make the situation spiral out of control," he said.

Activists were increasingly threatened and attacked by unknown assailants. One local rights group has been summoned by the Supreme Court and presented with treason charges, while the offices of another has been ransacked.

 

© AFP 2017

   
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Protesters are being frequently beaten up while the media faces a growing number of death threats in the Maldives, Amnesty International said Thursday, after a fact-finding mission to the honeymoon islands.
Maldives, politics, unrest, rights, Amnesty
411
2015-31-23
Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 05:31 AM
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