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NEWS: State of Emergency Declared in Maldives

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posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 12:12 PM
A state of emergency was declared indefinitely on Friday after security forces broke up thousands of protesters who had gathered for hours in the capital demanding change to the autocratic rule in the tiny, Indian Ocean archipelago. Police on Friday used tear gas to disperse the protesters and arrested about 200 of them. The capital was calm Saturday, but the National Security Service patrolled the capital city, Male, and posted armored personnel carriers at major intersections.

The protests began when a group gathered outside the national police headquarters in Male demanding the release of four reformists detained in the past week. Although the five were released, the crowd refused to disperse through most of Friday until government forces moved in to break up the demonstrators.

Crowd in Male' Republican Square on Friday morning

A statement on the president's Web site said the state of emergency had been necessary after the protest turned violent." target="_blank" class="postlink" rel="nofollow"> The President's Office, Republic of Maldives

"The mob comprised various unruly elements of society, and a considerably large number curious bystanders. The mob made various ad hoc demands, including the release of a number of criminals," it said.

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Police had beaten protesters and arrested a number of reformists, and witnesses said that police agents in the crowd had incited the violence as an excuse the break up the demonstration

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is deeply concerned at reports of large numbers of injured people needing hospital treatment after the police used sticks and batons to attack them during the demonstrations. The organization is urging the government to adhere to international human rights standards.

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State radio announced certain rights of citizens had been suspended and that people were banned from demonstrating or expressing views critical of the government.


Maldives’ authorities halted Internet and cell phone text messaging services on Saturday.

A pro-democracy Web site,, said access to the site inside the country had been blocked, but that it could still be read outside Maldives

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Anti-government protests demanding democratic reforms broke out in the island nation for the first time last year. Last month, legislators staged an unprecedented walkout over disagreements on electing a speaker to spearhead the democratic reforms. The special assembly of 108 members was elected in June to draw up a new constitution in line with the promised reforms.

Gayoom also has faced increasing criticism from the United States and Europe for his failure to tolerate an opposition. Political parties are banned in the Maldives, where President Gayoom has ruled for 25 years.

Opponents have demanded the president allow a multi-party system, said hopes President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom would make good on promises of democratic reforms had faded.

The nation is one of the world's premier sun and sand tourist destinations, with luxury hotels and white sand beaches dotted across the archipelago.

[edit on 8-14-2004 by Valhall]

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