Maldives detains, deports international lawyers sent to study emergency rule

Maldivian opposition supporters scuffle with security forces officers during a protest demanding the release of political prisoners in Male. Maldives President Abdulla Yameen extended a draconian state of emergency by another month on February 20. (AFP)
Updated 28 February 2018
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Maldives detains, deports international lawyers sent to study emergency rule

COLOMBO: The Maldives detained and deported a group of international lawyers who traveled to the troubled honeymoon islands to study the impact of emergency rule, their organization said Wednesday.
Law Asia, a regional lawyers’ association, said it had sent four members in response to an open invitation the government issued two days after President Abdulla Yameen imposed a state of emergency.
That followed a Supreme Court order, later rescinded, to release political prisoners and reinstate sacked lawmakers — a move that would have cost Yameen his majority in parliament.
The president has overseen a major crackdown on dissent in recent years, jailing a series of prominent critics including the opposition leader and sacking MPs who defected from the ruling party.
Earlier this month Yameen sacked the chief justice and another senior judge before imposing emergency rule, sparking international condemnation.
The crisis has hit the image of the Maldives as a peaceful holiday paradise, although it has had little impact on life away from the capital in the upmarket resort islands popular with honeymooners.
The four lawyers were detained on Sunday when they arrived at Male international airport, where they were held and subsequently deported, Law Asia said.
“By such action, the government of Maldives deprived itself of the benefit of an independent and impartial assessment by a fact-finding team not sponsored by any individuals, parties or organizations in the Maldives,” it said.
The government had invited international organizations to send representatives to “assess the situation in the Maldives and witness the safety and security of Male” under emergency rule.
Law Asia said they had been trying for more than two weeks to arrange special visas before deciding to send the delegation after informing the immigration authorities.
Separately, Yameen’s niece Dunya Maumoon resigned late Tuesday as health minister.
She had been under pressure to resign since Yameen ordered the arrest of her father, ex-president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
The 80-year-old was president for 30 years until the country’s first democratic elections in 2008 and was initially see as the power behind the throne until he became estranged from his half-brother and backed the opposition.
He was arrested on a charge of trying to topple the government hours after the emergency was declared.


Afghan Taliban frown at militants’ Eid cease-fire selfies

Updated 12 min 41 sec ago
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Afghan Taliban frown at militants’ Eid cease-fire selfies

  • Both the Afghan government and the militants declared temporary cease-fires for the end-of-Ramadan Eid Al-Fitr holiday
  • The Taliban cease-fire ended on Sunday. The government extended its cease-fire with the Taliban, which had been due to end on Wednesday, June 20, by 10 days

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: The Afghan Taliban are angry at their members swapping selfies with soldiers and government officials during their three-day cease-fire, a senior Taliban official said on Monday, after the militants roamed at will through cities before the truce ended.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Taliban official also said Pakistan had wanted the Taliban to include US and other foreign troops in the cease-fire, but the Taliban’s leadership and supreme commander, ‎Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada, did not agree.
“Last night, an emergency meeting was called and all the commanders were informed and directed to take strict disciplinary action against all those Taliban members who visited citizens and took pictures with the Afghan authorities,” he told Reuters.
Some Taliban seen taking selfies w‎ith Afghan government forces and officials had been warned, the Taliban official said.
Both the Afghan government and the militants declared temporary cease-fires for the end-of-Ramadan Eid Al-Fitr holiday, leading to fraternization between the two sides as militants emerged from their hideouts to enter towns and cities.
The government cease-fire did not include the Islamic State militant group and the Taliban did not include US-led foreign forces in theirs.
The Taliban cease-fire ended on Sunday. The government extended its cease-fire with the Taliban, which had been due to end on Wednesday, June 20, by 10 days.
Another Taliban commander, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that some attacks had been planned in the southern Afghan province of Helmand where short clashes were reported, according to the spokesman for the Helmand governor.
Anti-war activists set off on a peace march last month, spending the fasting month crossing harsh, sun-baked countryside en route to Kabul where they arrived on Monday, their numbers swelling and ebbing at different points along the route.
Abdul Rahman Mangal, spokesman for the Maidan Wardak provincial government, next to Kabul, said the Taliban attacked two security checkpoints in the Saidabad district in the early hours of Monday which “left casualties.”
Clashes were also reported in Faryab in the northwest and Laghman, to the east of Kabul, and Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan and the scene of two bomb blasts over the weekend, one of which was claimed by Islamic State.
While many war-weary Afghans welcomed the cease-fires and the fraternization between the combatants, some have criticized the government cease-fire, which allowed the Taliban to flow into cities, though the militants said they were withdrawing.
The Taliban are fighting US-led NATO forces combined under the Resolute Support mission, and Ghani’s US-backed government to restore sharia, or Islamic law, after their ouster by US-led forces in 2001.
But Afghanistan has been at war for four decades, ever since the Soviet invasion in 1979.