Hundreds of citizens from Male’ and Thulhaadhoo created cards for former president Mohamed Nasheed over the past week in events organised by MDP supporters.
Locals from Baa atoll Thulhaadhoo made cards for Nasheed on Saturday at an open event. The organisers will send the cards to the family of Nasheed, who was sentenced to 13 years in jail this month on terrorism charges over the detention of the chief judge of the criminal court while Nasheed was in power.
Last Wednesday, about 200 children gathered at Raalhugandu in Henveiru district in Male’ to make cards for Nasheed, whose trial was heavily criticised by groups including Amnesty International.
Toddlers, pre-teenagers and also young teenagers took part in the event. Some had brought cards from home while others sat down to make them at Raalhugandu.
The idea for the event came because family members of Nasheed, nicknamed “Anni”, have been receiving numerous hopeful and inspiring messages from the children about their hero, “Annibe” (Anni brother), through their parents, so a team from the MDP decided to organise a card making evening for children.
“We will free you, we will defeat the bad guys,” read a card made by Aabi, a nine-year-old boy.
Nasheed’s legal team has argued he was not given a fair trial, while bodies including the United Nations and Amnesty International have heavily criticised the process that led to his imprisonment. However, the government insists it was a fair trial conducted in accordance with local law.
Speaking to Minivan News, an eight-year-old boy named Zain said that Nasheed taught him how to play chess, and that he wants to have dinner with President Nasheed.
“Thirteen years is so long, I want to have dinner with you sooner,” wrote Zain.
Another card from Kyle, aged three, read: “Give my president lots of love and strength”, with a picture of Nasheed holding him when he was a few months old.
Speaking to Minivan News, MP Eva Abdulla, Nasheed’s cousin, said that some of the cards said things like “He is our hope”, “Come back soon” and “We miss you”.
“For us, what they have to say is very touching, even though at times it is emotionally draining for us, it is very nice to see these things and it gives us hope,” said Eva.
Fourteen-year-old Ana and 15-year-old Raayaa told Minivan News they would like to say, “Please free President Nasheed as soon as possible”.
“I am very sad he is in jail, he is not a terrorist,” said nine-year-old Eashaal on her card.
Eva said on Wednesday that lawyers and his family were working towards a way to take the items to Nasheed, who is currently being held at the Dhoonidhoo detention centre. Eva said that Nasheed has always had a “very good rapport” with children.
“He will be very happy to receive these, he loves children and if he could, he would definitely write back to each and every one of them,” said Eva.
Aina Ibrahim, 14 years old, gave her card to Zaya Laila Nasheed, President Nasheed’s youngest daughter.
“He fought for rights, freedom and justice in our country. He has made so many contributions and so much has been done, unlike during the autocratic rule,” she said.
Nasheed’s mother was also at Raalhugandu to collect the cards, along with other family members.
Nasheed has been arrested and detained dozens of times since he began campaigning for democracy in the Maldives.
“I grew up writing letters to him in jail and now my children are writing to him in jail. Children from the whole nation are writing to him in jail,” said Eva.