Contact: Sharon Singh, [email protected], 202-675-8579
(Washington, D.C.) — The new authorities in the Maldives must avoid persecuting members of outgoing president Mohammed Nasheed's political party, Amnesty International said today, after Mr. Nasheed resigned following a police mutiny in the country.
The former leader said in a televised statement on Tuesday that he was resigning "to prevent violence," after a group of police officers joined opposition-led protests and took control of the state broadcaster in the capital Male. At least three senior members of the ex-president's Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) were reportedly detained after being beaten by police and opposition supporters on Monday night.
"The events of the last days follow weeks of political paralysis and a breakdown of accountability and the rule of law," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director. The new government must ensure that it will protect the rights of all Maldivians equally, without regard to their political affiliation. The authorities should also launch an independent and impartial investigation into the attacks on three MDP members yesterday."
There are conflicting reports on Mr. Nasheed's current whereabouts. The outgoing president was reportedly being held against his will by security forces at the presidential palace earlier today, but has now been released, according to some media reports. "Mohammed Nasheed's exact whereabouts must be clarified immediately," said Zarifi.
A Maldives opposition leader has told AFP he asked the military to detain Mr. Nasheed so he could face charges of corruption and misuse of power. The MDP says the resignation of Mr. Nasheed is a "coup d'etat" orchestrated by "rogue elements" from the Maldives police service aided by supporters of former President Mamoon Abdul Gayoom.
MDP members Mariya Didi, Eva Abdulla and Alham Fahmy sustained serious injuries after being attacked by police and opposition supporters on Monday and were taken to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital for treatment.
Mr. Nasheed's former ally and vice-president Waheed Hassan was sworn in as president on Tuesday afternoon.
Protests began last month after Mr. Nasheed ordered the military to arrest top criminal court judge Abdulla Mohamed on charges of corruption and political bias. Abdulla Mohamed is said to be close to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The government said that the judiciary was unwilling to allow investigation of judicial misconduct against Abdulla Mohamed.
Mohamed Nasheed was elected president in the Maldives' first multi-party elections in October 2008, ending the 30-year rule of authoritarian leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom and dignity are denied.
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