Coups, cocks and condoms

by Azra Naseem

Ever since we humans  signed the social contract, there have been great many reasons and excuses for restricting freedom of assembly. I’d wager, though, that throwing a ‘cursed cock’ at army personnel, or being in possession of unused condoms have never before been among them.

Yesterday the Maldives Police Service raided the protest camp the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has erected near the north-eastern shores of Male’ the capital with a search warrant issued on the basis that it was being used for black magic and sorcery, along with other ‘criminal activity.’ Having searched the premises, they triumphantly announced to the press their discovery of ‘evidence’– an unused pack of condoms.

According to diligent reporters at Minivan News, a local online newspaper, it was a packet of Moods Ultrathin. Perhaps their criminality lies in what they promise. As Moods’ Indian manufacturers would have it, they give you the ‘delight of uninhibited pleasure’. And in modern Male’, being dragged kicking and screaming back to the 14th Century by Islamists, pleasure is fast becoming a crime punishable by Sharia.

To say that an Islamist hand was all over yesterday’s police raid of the MDP at Usafasgan’du is not fanciful. Lately they have ratcheted up the volume on the sins of sorcery. Only a few days earlier, the politico-religious Adhaalath Party led by the country’s most hardcore Islamists, sent a letter to the police, asking them to add the investigation of sorcery to their list of law enforcement priorities. [That is, if the male officers have time to spare after grooming the waist length beards Adhaalath wants them to grow. Adhaalath hasn’t said it yet, but they’d like all female officers to resign and stay at home, or wear the Hijab under their hats.]

Anyway, the connection forged between Islamists and the national security forces in the lead up to the coup seems to be holding strong. Soon after Adhaalath made the request that police should set up a Sorcery Investigation Division (SID) at the Maldives Police Service (MPS), lo and behold! the Criminal Court was ready with an order to search the MDP camp on the basis of:

  • ‘Some people’ at Usfasgan’du,  [over a month ago] shouted filth at police passing by. And [less importantly?] damaged a police vehicle.
  • ‘Some people who came from Usfasgan’du’ impeded police work near Raalhugan’du [also about a month ago]

Here comes the biggie

  • During MDP protests on 25 May 2012, which started from Usfasgan’du [there’s the connection, you see] a cursed cock was thrown at MNDF officers blocking their way.
  • Photographs/video showing acts of sorcery had been committed in public places in a way that would cause upset.

Notice the way all the reasons given are about alleged Offences Against the Police or Military? Before police obtained the court order, Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed had been in the media, talking about having received complaints from ‘the public’ about alleged criminal goings-on at the camp. If ransacking the premises was about saving the public, why were all the reasons given related to perceived attacks on security personnel?

Whatever. As Abdulla Riyaz might say.

The police looked under the trees, under the leaves and even under the rocks in the sea in search of the cursed cock but, in the end, uncovered only condoms.

MPS combing for cocks and condoms Pic: Sun.mv

Had they left it at that, the episode may have ended as yet another one of the police’s frequent PR cock-ups, but it was not to be. Soon they brought the diggers in. It is said that curses are often buried underground. They unearthed nothing, but left the place in ruins. If freedom of assembly were buried alive in a shallow grave, it would look like this.

They still wouldn’t let it rest. Then came the violence. When they dismantled Raalhugan’du, MDP’s previous camp just around the corner, they preceded it with a brutal assault on protesters. That was on 19 March. With the dismantling of Usfasgan’du, the violence came as a sequel. Here’s them attacking two female MDP MPs, Eva Abdulla and Mariya Didi:

MP Eva says the worst part is that they pinch most viciously. Even when given batons and pepper-spray, playground bullies of the past remain true to their formative years.

And here they are, on a rampage.

Dr Waheed boasted recently that his biggest accomplishment has been to free the media. [One can only assume he’s referring to the liberation of MNBC One by storming it with guns on 7 February.] Police seems not to have heard. Here’s them pepper spraying Raajje TV cameraman at close-range.

Home Minister Dr Jameel praised their work, hoping that with the posting of one Tweet, he could change brutal police violence, ridiculous charges of sorcery, and restrictions on freedom of assembly into ‘protection of democracy.’

The violence in the afternoon, not just condoned but praised by leaders of the security apparatus, was followed by violence in the evening. Now homeless, having been kicked out of two protest camps, MDP and pro-democracy supporters spilled onto the streets. The police confronted them with batons. They were on the offensive, not the defensive, as they claim. Does this look defensive to you?

Source: Kula Yellow

People were arrested. Among them were MPs and key figures related to Nasheed’s administration. Many were taken to the prison island of Dhoonidhoo. Courts were busy extending their detention deadlines late into the night.

Some members of the police forces were, meanwhile, busy dismantling the camp at Usfasgan’du. Aware of the police plan to do so, MDP filed for an injunction to halt the process. The court order had been to search, not dismantle. But, never mind, as Riyaz Abdulla would say.

MDP got the desired order from the court, but the police kept on taking the camp apart. They stopped only when they had completed their job. But, according to Riyaz Abdulla, they stopped soon as they heard of the court order to do so.

This cannot be. Lawyers from both sides had tweeted the court order long before the police stopped their work. And we all know just how much the country’s police and army leaders like to be on Twitter. They knew.

Yet they concentrated their energy on taking it all down.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, a sixteen year old school boy, asleep in a public space after a school camping trip, was stabbed to death in an apparently random attack. There was no one to protect him. The police had been too busy protecting themselves from cursed cocks that fly and condom packets that needed using.

Such is life –oppressed and cheap–in times of a coup.

    4 comments

    1. BSA

      well said….oppressed and cheap…no other words to describe such ridiculous actions and decisions in these times….

    2. BSA

      There should be more urgent & important things to do for the Police Force of Maldives than go searching for cocks and condoms…and that digging the sand up and looking for condoms is something which I cannot comprehend at all. Why? Oh, why are they so concerned about cocks and condoms always…..

    3. Pingback: Maldives – 2012 not right time for voodoo | Ibrahim Shoppe

    Post a comment

    You may use the following HTML:
    <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.