Two videos showing the July 13 arrest of activist Shauna Aminath in the Maldives during a peaceful protest calling for early elections have generated reactions all the way to Chile. While Shauna was released the following day after a court hearing, the Maldives Democratic Party believes it is part of targeted arrests and intimidation of female protesters.
From the Maldives Democracy Movement press release on the result of from the peaceful protest asking for early elections in the capital city of Male, where more than 65 pro-democracy protesters were arrested:
At approximately 6:15pm local time, Shauna Aminath, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Youth Wing President, and Policy Secretary, was arrested in Male and is currently being held in police custody in the Dhoonidhoo detention island. At this time the charges against her are unknown. The MDP is deeply concerned for Shauna’s safety, due to the documented abuses of other detainees held in police custody since the coup d’etat on 7 February. The MDP calls upon the government of the Republic of Maldives for her immediate release.
The video titled MDP activist Shauna being brutally beaten and dragged by the police. #mvcoup shows Shauna's arrest. She's seen wearing a yellow shirt.
Felipe Cordero, Global Voices contributor, was personally struck by Shauna's arrest, and wrote about it on his blog:
Among those arrested was Shauna Aminath, current President of the Maldives Democratic Party Youth Wing and former Policy Undersecretary under President Mohamed Nasheed (known locally as Ani). She is also one of my close friends because we became friends while studying at UWC Pearson College (Canada) and continued our friendship later at Westminster College (Missouri, US). We worked together as political science students and worked together at a project in Colombia.
I know Shauna well. She has an incredible character and is perhaps the person with the clearest sense of justice, fairness and freedom that I know. She wants people in the Maldives to be free from fear and wants an end to the corrupt system that a 30-year dictatorship fostered.
FreedomWatchMV uploaded the video Arrest of Shauna & Mayan during a Peaceful Protest 13th July 2012
Shauna was part of the campaigns to bring the first democratically elected president to the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, and she later became his Policy Undersecretary where she championed to prevent climate change which will affect the Maldives, the country with the lowest altitude over sea level in the world. However, things changed after the coup on February, where President Nasheed was forced to resign. Felipe Cordero summarizes:
Alas, the President was forced to resign in February when a 3-week protest against him because he dared to arrest a corrupt judge with very close ties to the former dictator, ended with a policy mutiny. When resigning, he said ”I am not a person who wishes to rule with the use of power. I believe that if the government were to remain in power it would require the use of force, which would harm many citizens”
The Maldives Democratic Party believes this is part of the targeted intimidation of women protesters by Dr. Waheed’s regime. From their July 14th press release.
Aminath Shauna – the MDP’s Youth Wing President, and former Under Secretary in Policy matters under President Nasheed’s administration was arrested on 13 July, on the grounds that she obstructed Police duty by throwing rocks at Police officers. Shauna was kept in Dhoonidhoo detention centre overnight and brought to the Criminal Court this afternoon at approximately 1530, where her hearing was delayed by over 3 hours. She was not given a sanitary napkin when she requested, and was not given access to her personal belongings, which were sent to her by her family via the Police custodial unit. Shauna’s family, friends and well wishers who were waiting in front of the court for a verdict on the grounds of her arrest and the possible extension of her detention were blockaded, threatened and pepper sprayed by Police officers who cordoned off the area. Shauna’s mother, HawwaManik was shoved aside by a Police officer when she questioned their actions. She was told, ‘this is our government, this is our country. We can send you off from anywhere we want.’ Aminath Shauna was released, without charge upon the condition that she did not attend ‘any protests for 21 days’.