1st October, 2018
Many Maldivians came out on the roads of Male’ the capital of Maldives, to welcome and celebrate their released beloved political leaders who had been jailed unlawfully by the incumbent president Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
The Maldives High Court, on Sunday evening ordered former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his son MP Ahmed Faris Maumoon, to be freed on bail.
Gayoom was arrested on 5th February 2018, in a late night operation after declaring a state of emergency in the country. Security forces broke into his house in order to arrest him. Gayoom was found guilty of obstruction of justice in July 2018, and was sentenced to jail for one year and seven months. The eighty years old former president due to his health issues was recommended by medical doctors to be transferred to house arrest. Authorities had denied the request by the doctors and Gayoom’s family and kept him in jail till his bail released yesterday. Gayoom was freed on bail of MVR 60,000.
Gayoom’s son, MP Ahmed Faris Maumoon was sentenced to four months and twenty-four days in prison on July 2017, after being found guilty of ‘identity theft’, after the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) claimed that he used the ruling party’s flag at an opposition press conference.
He was declared an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience in July 2017.
Faris was released on bail after paying a bond of MVR 40,000.
The third prominent political figure who was released on the same evening was the founder and leader of Jumhooree Party (JP) Hon. Qasim Ibrahim. He paid a bond of MVR 70,000. Qasim was found guilty of offering bribes to fellow lawmakers in August 2017, and was sentenced to three years, two months and 12 days in prison. Since November 2017, he has been living in self-exile in Germany. He is expected to return to Maldives on Wednesday 3rd of October 2018.
The first politically arrested detainees was released by The Maldives Criminal Court on 24th of September 2018, the evening of the day after president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih met president Yameen Abdul Gayoom at his office. Of them, the first to be released was former Commissioner of Police MP Abdullah Riyaz. He was sentenced to jail for four months and twenty-four days in April 2018, by the Maldives High Court. Even though he completed his sentence, he was detained and kept in jail until then. Also freed were four other politicians convicted on different charges. They include former Commissioner of Police Ahmed Areef, MP Ilham Ahmed, MP Abdullah Sinan and Mohamed Nadheem who is the son-in-law of former president Gayoom. In addition, MP Ahmed Mahloof was freed on the 25thof September. He was being kept under house arrest since April 2018.
The number of political leaders and high profile figures of the country who were imprisoned or forced to live in exile increased day by day since Yameen Abdul Gayoom stepped into office as the president of the Maldives in 2013. Yameen was beaten in the presidential election held on the 23rd of September 2018, by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Solih beat the incumbent president Abdulla Yameen, by more than 38,000 votes. Yameen received 96,052 votes compared to Solih’s 134,705, which is 58% of the vote, the largest ever received by a presidential candidate in Maldives. Releasing the political prisoners who have been arrested unlawfully was one of the presidential pledges made by the president-elect Solih, during his campaign rallies.
Now Maldivians are awaiting the good news of the release of the former president Mohamed Nasheed, believed by the majority of the Maldivians as the champion of democracy. Nasheed was the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, who also has been sentenced to thirteen years in prison in 2015 by the Maldives Criminal Court on terrorism charges. He too is living in exile. Even though his passport has been released this evening he was not yet freed by any of the courts. People of the Maldives are raising their voices, calling to free their beloved leaders and many others who have still been kept under unlawful arrests. Among them is Shaikh Imran Abdullah, the leader of Adhaalath Party (AP) who also has been sentenced to jail in May 2015, for twelve years after being convicted on a terrorism charge.
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