President Mohamed Nasheed has apologised to the people of Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo for “injustices resulting from measures taken by the government of the day” to end a short-lived secession of three southern atolls from 1959 to 1963.
Speaking at a working session of the cabinet held in Thinadhoo yesterday, President Nasheed said that the Thinadhoo Island Council had requested the apology and acknowledged that the central government in Male’ had “acted unjustly” towards the people of Thinadhoo in the suppression of the separatist movement.
Havaru Thinadhoo, historical capital of Huvadhu atoll, was attacked and depopulated on the orders of Prime Minister Ibrahim Nasir in February 1962.
Following Tuesday’s official apology at the cabinet meeting – held outside Male’ for only the second time – Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik noted that his grandfather was among those forcibly expelled and stressed the importance of documenting the events in official Maldivian history.
Dr Waheed told state broadcaster MNBC One that “today the President who is the highest official of state has asked the forgiveness of the people on behalf of the state.”
“As someone who hails from Thinadhoo, I am very happy and grateful for [the apology]. I rest assured that everyone will accept the apology by the state,” he said.
The cabinet meanwhile discussed a request by the island council to revert the island’s name to ‘Havaru Thenadhoo’ and decided to hold a public referendum on the proposal.
The working session of the cabinet in Thinadhoo was attended by state and deputy ministers, island councillors and directors of regional corporations and featured a presentation on planned development projects.
At a ceremony after the cabinet meeting, President Nasheed inaugurated the Thinadhoo Development Corporation to develop the reclaimed area of the island and handed over the completed stadium of the Upper South Province to the island council.
Inhabited islands of the Maldives “have to be connected and linked together to ensure development,” Nasheed said at the ceremony.