President thanks soldiers who fought for Maldives’ sovereignty on Victory Day

President Abdulla Yameen has extended his gratitude to soldiers and members of the public who have fought for the sovereignty of the country on the occasion of Victory Day.

The holiday is celebrated annually on November 3 to commemorate the failed coup by Maldivian political dissidents and Tamil mercenaries in 1988.

“The President said that the key to victory in the November 3rd terrorist attack was unity and harmony among the Maldivian people,” read a statement from the President’s Office.

President Yameen urged Maldivians to foster the spirit of cooperation and to defend the nation’s independence and sovereignty against enemies within who would seek to allow outside forces to influence the nation.

He also called upon Maldivians to stay away from irreligious activities and “disruptive” influences.

The attempted ousting of then President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – President Yameen’ half brother – 26 years ago was repelled with a combined effort from the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) and Indian troops.

November 3, 1988

The attempt to overthrow Gayoom’s then-ten year regime was formulated in Sri Lanka by two Maldivians – Abdulla Luthfee and Sikka Ahmed Ismail Manik – who requested assistance from Tamil secessionist organisation the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE).

PLOTE reportedly provided the Maldivians with a raiding team of 80 mercenaries with which they sailed to the Maldives in sea trawlers, arriving in the capital Malé in the early morning hours of November 3, 1998.

After securing Hulhulé airport with little to no opposition, the rebels landed in Malé in front of MNDF headquarters where they met heavy resistance from Corporal Hussain Adam, a young officer who was guarding the main gate that morning.

Corporal Hussain Adam died from multiple gunshot wounds in a small guard post on the side of the gate from where he laid defensive fire, weakening the offensive until he ran out bullets. Corporal Adam died after calling out for more bullets so he could lay covering fire in order to enter the safety of the headquarters.

Meanwhile, President Maumoon requested assistance from numerous countries – including India, the UK and the USA – after having himself escaped a group of rebels sent to capture him. India was the quickest to respond to the distress call, deploying 1500 paratroopers to the Maldives.

The rebels quickly fell into disarray after the resistance from the MNDF gate and began looking for ways to escape the island. They eventually seized the vessel, MV Progress Light and started sailing towards Java before changing course towards Sri Lanka. They took with them a group of hostages, including the transport minister and his wife.

Progress Light was soon intercepted by Indian Navy vessels INS Godhavari and INS Betwa. After some resistance – including the murder of 5 hostages to discourage the strong offensive from the Indian Navy vessels – the rebels surrendered after their vessel sustained irreversible damage.

Prosecution and disappearance of Luthfee

Luthfee, along with the other Maldivians involved, was captured by the Indian Navy and handed over to the Maldivian Government who charged them with terrorism and sentenced them to death. The sentence was later amended after pressure from the Indian Government, with those charged receiving life imprisonment instead.

In 2010, however, Luthfee disappeared while in India for medical reasons. The home minister at the time, Mohamed Fayaz, told Minivan News that Luthfee was authorised to go to India in 2009 and was supposed to return by January 2010.

The Progressive Party of the Maldives, headed by former President Gayoom, accused then President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration of setting Luthfee free.

Current Home Minister Umar Naseer today expressed his confidence in finding Luthfee, suggesting that he was currently residing in Sri Lanka under a false identity.

“What happens is it’s different to hunt him down because it’s a foreign country. Our police officers have to go there and work. As far as I know, Luthfy was last seen in Lanka,” said Umar.

The Maldives Police Service has previously placed a bounty of MVR75,000 (US$4,870) on Luthfee’s head – to be given to anyone who aids the police in finding him.

In a testimony made public today by Haveeru, Luthfee accused the Senior Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry at the time of the 1988 coup attempt, Ibrahim Hussein Zaki, of having prior knowledge of the attacks and of providing information of Gayoom’s travel schedule.

Zaki – also special envoy to President Nasheed – has denied the allegations, stating that he did not have any prior knowledge of the attacks and that he would hand himself to authorities for imprisonment if proven otherwise.

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Presidents use Victory Day to warn against modern-day traitors

Presidents past and present have extended greetings to the people of the Maldives in celebration of Victory Day – the occasion commemorating the failed 1988 coup.

The attempt to overthrow the government of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom by Maldivian dissidents and Tamil mercenaries was repelled by a combination of the Maldives National Defense Force and Indian troops.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed paid tribute to the those who fought to defend the nation on that day, taking advantage of the occasion to stress the importance of national unity and the danger of foreign interference.

“Similarly, this is the time for us to find solutions to issues faced by us. We must resolve our issues ourselves. We must not let any foreign party to interfere and have their say in our affairs.”

“We must always remember that giving that opportunity to foreigners could negatively affect our independence and sovereignty, and we may have to face further harms,” said a President’s Office statement.

Meanwhile, local media quoted former President Gayoom as using the occasion to warn against the danger of traitors still present within the country, calling on Maldivians to be be wary of similar schemes threatening the nation today.

Police Commisioner Abdulla Riyaz yesterday revealed that documents concerning the coup could be declassified from today – 25 years after the incident – though he said a  decision was yet to be made on the way in which they would be made public.

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Victory Day celebrations to be held this month

Victory Day celebrations are to take place this month in Male’, the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) has confirmed.

The MNDF said that celebrations will be held in Republican Square, beginning at 8:30pm on November 14.

According to the MNDF, there will be three different events to celebrate the occasion, including a music show featuring famous Maldivian artists accompanied by the MNDF brass band.

The MNDF have said that speeches will be given by senior orators and school students on the subject of Victory Day.

A video presentation on the events of 3 November 1988 will also be screened, followed by fireworks, the MNDF have said.

The celebrations will commemorate the national tragedy of 3 November, when a group of mercenaries from Sri Lanka attacked the capital killing 19 Maldivians.

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MNDF marks ‘Victory Day’ with special ceremony, unveiling of memorial monument

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) marked ‘Victory Day’ with a special ceremony, a parade, the unveiling of a new monument and a silent drill on Friday (November 2).

The special ceremony commemorated the events of November 3, 1988 – when an attempted coup by Sri Lankan mercenaries led by a group of Maldivians was foiled with Indian military assistance .

As part of the event, a memorial monument at the southwestern side of Bandaara Koshi, the main military headquarters, was unveiled by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

The southwestern corner of the military headquarters was blown up during the attack in the early hours of November 3, 1988.

The ceremony meanwhile included the screening of an animated video showing the attack on the military headquarters, a seven-gun salute, 30 seconds of silence in memorial of the fallen, a performance by the military’s ‘Pipe’ band and the launching of a book about the 1988 coup.

Military officers performed a silent drill after the ceremony.

In his address at the ceremony, Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam said that although the Maldives might not come under military attack in modern times, the “effects of ideological attacks to poison the minds of our youth and destroy our nationhood are evident all around us.”

A parade meanwhile took place across the capital this morning following dawn prayers in a large congregation of military officers.

MNDF Captain Hussain Ali told newspaper Haveeru on Thursday that an event at the Republic Square including fireworks that had originally been planned for tonight was now postponed until after November 12 due to adverse weather.

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DRP to hold gathering to commemorate ‘Victory Day’

The main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has announced it will hold a special gathering tonight to celebrate ‘Victory Day’, a public holiday held in remembrance of those who died in the November 3 coup attempt in 1988.

The Maldives was attacked by 80 armed mercenaries linked to the Sri Lankan terrorist group, the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE). Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom requested Indian intervention and 1600 paratroopers were deployed to the Maldives. 19 people were killed in the fighting, including several hostages taken by the mercenaries.

The escaping mercenary vessel was intercepted by the Indian Navy frigates INS Godavari and INS Betwa.

“We will gather and march in the main roads of Male’, said DRP MP Ahmed Nihan. “People who are attending are requested to wear black clothing because it was a dark and saddening day for the Maldives.”

Nihan criticised the government for not commemorating the day “as they should be”, accused several senior members of the government of collaborating with the mercenaries, and further claimed that the Maldives secured its own independence before the intervention of the Indian government.

“Anyone is welcome to join our gathering tonight, it is remembrance of the martyrs who passed away in the attack, and the black clothing resembles the sadness and darkness Maldivians were in back then,’’ he added.

Nihan said the gathering would begin at 8:45pm at the Artificial Beach and continue for an hour.

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