Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Captain Dr Fathmath Thahsyna Ibrahim has been removed from her post as Deputy Commander of Medical Services, after she expressed outrage on social media about alleged brutality by security forces against demonstrators.
Dr Thahsyna’s 61-year-old father, Ibrahim Abubakur (Kottafaru Dhonthu), was allegedly struck on the head by an MNDF officer during an opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protest on August 2.
Videos surfaced on social media showing Abubakur emerging from the crowd holding his bloodied head while MNDF officers pushed protesters back to the Chandanee Magu junction. The Republic Square area was cordoned off by MNDF officers while former President Mohamed Nasheed was attending police headquarters.
Following the incident, Dr Thahsyna – who was the first female MNDF doctor - took to Facebook alleging that her father was “hit by an MNDF personnel.”
“Every civilian has the right to freely express their views. No uniformed personnel has any right to beat up their own citizens, no matter what!” she wrote on August 2. “My father was hit on the head and he has a 7cm deep laceration on the back of his head.”
Verbal protest or abuse should not be “answered with the baton,” she added.
“I know my father is an MDP activist and he may have called you names, but still even he doesn’t deserve to be hit on his head,” she wrote.
When she posted the same comments on the MNDF medical page on Facebook, Thahsyna revealed that only two officers expressed well wishes for her father, “out of good will and humanity.”
Abubakur meanwhile told newspaper Haveeru yesterday that his eldest son saw the MNDF officer hit him with a baton.
“That day I was on the pavement in front of the Umar Shopping Arcade. I was behind the fence. When the army officers charged and tried to disperse the civilians on the road, someone fell outside the fence and I was hit on the head while I was bending over to help him back up.”
Speaking to Minivan News today, MNDF Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Raheem confirmed that Dr Thahsyna was removed from her post as deputy commander on August 5.
Raheem however stressed that she was not demoted to a lower rank but had “a change of appointment,” which “happened routinely” in the army.
“She is still working at the medical services,” he said. “She has not been transferred to a different unit.”
While Colonel Raheem could not “definitely say at the moment” that Dr Thahsyna’s removal as deputy commander was in response to her comments on Facebook, the MNDF spokesperson confirmed that an “internal investigation” was ongoing into the allegations of brutality against Dr Thahsyna’s father.
He however added that Dr Thahsyna’s remarks on Facebook was related to the investigation as she was a uniformed officer making public comments concerning the army.
On August 3, Dr Thahsyna posted on Facebook asserting that she has “never crossed my limitations as a solider and never will.”
“I don’t believe expressing my sentiments about my father being beaten up unlawfully is ‘being political’,” she wrote. “What is wrong is wrong no matter who does it. And we should not hide these unlawful acts, in order to make people responsible for their actions.”
Raheem meanwhile insisted that the MNDF would take action against any officers who assaulted civilians “if the investigation finds that any officer was involved.”
“The MNDF does not support violence and will never support it,” he said. “We have been telling our officers continuously that no harm should be caused to anyone. We have internal mechanisms to investigate such allegations and take measures.”
In the wake of the controversial transfer of power on February 7, Amnesty International, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Human Rights Committee have expressed concern over the “excessive use of force” against demonstrators of the formerly ruling MDP calling for early elections for the past six months.