On this day September 20, 2003

Maldives civil unrest broke out in Malé, the capital city of the Maldives, provoked by the death of Hassan Evan Naseem at Maafushi Prison and the subsequent shooting at the same prison, that killed 3 and injured 17 others.

Hassan Evan Naseem

Hassan Evan Naseem

Many government buildings, vehicles and other public properties were set on fire, some were destroyed.

The government controlled the unrest and declared a State of Emergency in Malé and nearby islands. Late night curfews were enforced from 2200hrs to 0430hrs in Malé for more than a month following the rioting.

On Friday September 19, 2003, Hassan Evan Naseem, who was serving at Maafushi Jail for drugs abuse related offenses, was beaten by the NSS personnel of the security unit in the jail.

This led to Naseem’s death the following day. The beating came about as punishment for the disturbances from complicated disputes between Naseem’s inmates and “neighboring” prisoners.

To control the disturbances caused by these disputes (and reportedly to investigate this incident) security personnel came with a list of “troublemakers”. Though it is said that, Naseem was not involved in the above mentioned incident his name appeared on the list. The security guards then had gone in to round-up the listed prisoners. Naseem had resisted and had refused to leave his cell, demanding reasons for his summoning.

This resistance ended up injuring a security guard which led to numerous members of the security unit storming into the cell. Evan was then moved to solitary confinement (referred to as “the range”). On the same night he was severely beaten up by 12 officers. He died in the early morning of September 20, 2003, largely due to injuries sustained to his lungs from the said beating.

Inmates of Evan Naseem learnt of his death at around 1100hrs, of 20 September 2003. On receiving this news, they demanded to meet with a Security officer from Department of Corrections. There was no response to these repeated demands. Some of the prisoners refused to take lunch to reflect their concern about the death of Evan Naseem.

Funeral prayers were performed by Evan’s inmates and many other prisoners, after mid-day prayers. Shortly afterwards came a loud uproar from Block C where Evan’s cell was located. Two inmates, then, jumped out of cell C3 after corrugated iron sheets being pushed open. More prisoners followed them and attacked jail security unit personnel. They tried to calm the prisoners down for a while and then dispersed them when the prisoners refused to cease their attack. By now more inmates came out of the Block C and opened other Blocks, facilitating more prisoners to come out.

A total of 20 people, including a security officer, were shot during the shooting incident at Maafushi prison. Fifteen of the 20 were shot above the knees and 9 of them were directly shot from behind while retreating. Six were shot from front and bullet entry points were not determinable in 5 persons. Abdualla Ameed died instantly due to being hit directly in the head. Two died in a Sri Lankan hospital while being treated.

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