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Amnesty International Maldives report 2001-2 - the Sandhaanu arrests
Fear for Safety / Fear of Torture or ill-treatment
Republic of Maldives

11 February 2002
PUBLIC Amnesty International Index: ASA 29/002/2002 UA 41/02


Mohamed Zaki (male) businessman
Ismail Zaki (male) businessman
Ibrahim Luthfee (male) businessman
Naushad Waheed (male) artist/cartoonist
Two students (male) names unknown

Naushad Waheed and son
Naushad Waheed with his son Nabeeh




All of those listed above, except Ibrahim Luthfee, are believed to be held at Dhoonidhoo detention centre, on a small island approximately five kilometres from Male'. There are fears they may have been tortured or ill-treated while in custody. Amnesty International is concerned for their safety and that of Ibrahim Luthfee whose current whereabouts are unknown.

Brothers Mohamed and Ismail Zaki as well as Ibrahim Luthfee, who used to run a computer-related company, were reportedly arrested on 31 January 2002 in the capital Male'. Artist and cartoonist, Naushad Waheed and two students, both of whom had been studying in Malaysia, were reportedly arrested on 9 December 2001, also in Male'.

Mohamed Zaki currently resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While he was in Male', at the time of his arrest, Malaysian police reportedly searched his home and took away his computer. One of his sons was reportedly arrested by the Malaysian police without a warrant and taken for questioning, but was released on bail 24 hours later.

It is believed the four men named above and the students may have been arrested because of their alleged involvement in an Internet bulletin, called Sandhaanu, which is circulated by e-mail and reportedly contains articles that are critical of the government. Their relatives have not been able to make inquiries about them, because they fear being arrested themselves.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
There has been a wave of arrests in recent months believed to be in connection with the circulation of Sandhaanu. In what Amnesty International believes to be a politically motivated arrest Mohamed Nasheed, MP for Male' was detained on 8 October 2001 and questioned about his efforts to set up a political party in the Maldives and any information he had about the Internet bulletin Sandhaanu, among other things. (See UA 274/01, ASA 29/003/2001, 26 October 2001 and update ASA 29/004/2001, 12 November 2001). After a short trial, he was sentenced to two and half year's banishment for the theft of unspecified government property.

The government does not allow political parties to function in the Maldives. The legislative assembly, known as the People's Majlis, (People's Council or parliament) comprises 50 members who are elected every five years.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:
Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of Ibrahim Luthfee, who has not been seen since 31 January and urging the authorities to take all measures necessary to establish his whereabouts;
- expressing concern for the safety of Mohamed Zaki and his brother, Ismail, who were reportedly arrested on 31 January 2002 as well as Naushad Waheed and two students (names unknown), reportedly arrested on 9 December 2001;
- urging the government to provide information about the reasons for their arrest and to charge them with a recognizable criminal offence or release them;
- asking the authorities to ensure that the detainees are not tortured or ill-treated in custody;
- urging that they be given access to lawyers, their families and medical treatment should they need it.


APPEALS TO:
President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
The President's Palace
Maafannu Theemuge
Male' 2002
Republic of Maldives

Telegrams:
President Gayoom,
Male' Republic of Maldives

Faxes:
+ 960 32 55 00

Salutation:
Dear President Gayoom


Ismail Shafeeu
Minister of Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Huravee building, 3rd Floor,
Ameer Ahmed Magu
Male' 2005
Republic of Maldives

Telegrams:
Minister of Home Affairs,
Male', Republic of Maldives

Faxes:
+ 960 32 47 39 (the phone may ring for a while before connecting)

Salutation:
Dear Minister


COPIES TO:
Diplomatic representatives of Maldives accredited to your country.


PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.
Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 25 March 2002.




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