Australian surfers followed, photographed, questioned for hours by Maldives police

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has confirmed that it held three Australian surfers in Male’ for five hours of questioning yesterday (August 31), before releasing them without charge.

The surf tourists, who arrived in the Maldives on August 30, were wearing ‘Save Thamburudhoo’ t-shirts, in support of a locally-led awareness campaign against the privatisation of a local surf break .

“The three Australian men were not in police custody, they were being questioned in regard to an ongoing investigation,” Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News today (September 1).

“They were released without charge right after being questioned,” he added.

Haneef was unable to state why the Australian surfers who had been in the Maldives for around 24 hours would be involved in a prior investigation, or why they were being followed and photographed, explaining that the investigation was ongoing.

Asked why questioning the Australians took five hours, Haneef said he would need to clarify the details of the investigative process with the MPS Criminal Investigation Department.

Multiple sources in the surfing community with knowledge of the incident told Minivan News the Australians were questioned because government authorities thought they were involved in a political protest against the current government, due to their ‘Save Thamburudhoo’ t-shirts.

Maldivian law prohibits foreign nationals from participating in political protests.

“The Australians have been followed and photographed [by police] since they got to Male’,” a source speaking on condition of anonymity told Minivan News.

“The police kept the Australians in custody for seven hours and checked their camera memory cards,” said another person familiar with the matter. “But they were not involved in any political protests.”

The ‘Save Thamburudhoo’ campaign aims to raise awareness and end surf break exclusivity in the Maldives, particularly the practice of resort islands shooing visiting local and foreign surfers off ‘their’ breaks. The campaign has been led by local surfers in partnership with the Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) and the Liveaboard Association of the Maldives (LAM), and has been widely covered in international surf media.

Thamburudhoo has become the campaign’s focal point, as it is the only uninhabited, untouched island near Male’ with a publicly accessible surf break . However, the island is currently owned by a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) co-operative company that is seeking bids to develop a resort on the island, which would limit access to the Thamburudhoo’s left and right-hand breaks, known locally as ‘sultans’ and ‘honkeys’.

The proposal was first submitted in 2011 under the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government, but appeared to have stalled until it was revived under the new government in early 2012.

Under the July 2011 proposal, submitted by senior Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) figures and Telos Investment, Telos would receive a 50 year lease on the military training island to develop a “boutique surf resort”, in exchange for US$5 million to develop an MNDF training facility on nearby Girifishi.

According to the proposal, the 3.6 hectare island “does not have the normal beauty found in Maldivian resorts”, as it does not have natural lagoon or sandy beaches. Furthermore, the strong currents limit recreational swimming, and therefore “the only development for Thanburudhoo which is sensible is that of a boutique surf resort.”

The surf resort would “open its doors to Maldivian surfers for a special surfing session twice per month,” the 2011 proposal notes.

“Unlike other resorts which do not allow local Maldivians to surf, Thanburudhoo would make available two surfing sessions per month, most likely Friday mornings or Saturday afternoons. The Maldivian surfers coming to Thanburudhoo for the special local surfing session must be in good standing with the Maldivian Surf Association and must abide by all the rules and regulations of Thanburudhoo surfing activities,” the proposal stated.

A ‘Save Thamburudhoo Expression Rally’ organised by MSA and LAM was planned to be held yesterday (August 31) but has since been delayed.

The rally would have involved over 24 vessels cruising between Male’s surf point ‘raalhugandu’ and Thamburudhoo’s surf breaks, as well as a petition to end surf break exclusivity.


20 thoughts on “Australian surfers followed, photographed, questioned for hours by Maldives police”

  1. what is this news about ? Was it about the australian being questioned ?

    If that is the case, we have every right to questioned them of involving local politics ?

    If this is about Thamburudhoo. I guess many people even don't know where this Island was. This deal was done during Nasheed time and MOU was signed .

    Current Governmnet had received the advance money and that is why it has become a political thing.

    When Nasheed had done the deal, no one questioned about this island and it was OK ?

    LAM is a political organization and specially previous board. They are are hardcore MDP activists.

  2. Isn't LAM controlled by issey. He had really played the tour operators here. He brought them here reported to the cops and made sure he was not here for the finals

  3. so what? how many times we maldivians are questioned in these countries? we maldivians with muslim names, called as terrorists by some of those people. i have personally experienced these sorts of discrimination.

  4. "Maldivian law prohibits foreign nationals from participating in political protests."

    Nice xenophobic law. Freedom of speech is non-existent in The Maldives. What exactly do our "good" politicians fear? Everyone can choose to approve or disapprove protests, whether protesters are foreign or local doesn't matter.

  5. sadly LAM and MSA needs to learn a bitter but important lesson from Thanburudhoo. Get yourselves organised. You guys are organizations representing the rights of live aboard owners and surfers across the country. It says alot about how organized and connected you are with the system when LAM and MSA board members decide there is no way but to protest against thanburudhu on social media and streets AFTER government awards the contract.

    On the contrary the board member should have been more awake, alert and connected to policy makers to know what is going on around them. it is obvious they are not doing a good job when a surf like Thanburudhu slipped from radar.

    I put the blame on the incompetency of LAM and MSA board members for letting this happen. And its silly to me when these people now cry about it. Almost childish. So i tell them, grow up and be more serious about your posts. More decisions like this maybe made as we speak. What are you doing about it?

  6. When foreigners ask me about surfing in Maldives I always recommend that they do not come, and the reason is this.

  7. Hey kuribee! Do you hear that? That's the sound of your tourist dollars being burnt at the temple of your gods.

    I say we dissolve the MPS, because it is a militant wing of the PPM.

  8. LAM was used by minister of defence NAzims in laws before , sadly fauz is being taken for a ride and he dorsnt know it.. The safari protest never happened although lot of them were prepared for it. Hope Voyages Maldives will also protest against the killing of our surfing industry..

  9. Issey a former addict gets to play play with help from ministry of defence..

  10. some people thinks that bringing a foreigner to show down will leave us the Maldivian no choice but to bow our heads.

    same Tactics used by Nasheed.

  11. Hey grow up surf boys. Why only thamburudhu. I thik I saw a press release on Haveeru where the owner of thanburudhu says he will give daily access to to all locals. No other resort does that. So what the f are you cribbing

  12. the surfers protest when city council has the night market near raalhugandhu. Now this. These surfers are taken for a ride by these foreign surf operators as they do not do anything for surfing in Maldives but continue to charge tourist surfers a hefty fee for the waves. And they say waves should be free. They don't pay taxes and they have proxy Maldivians to run their safari boats. What do local surfers get. Zilch?

    Not to mention that these very surf operators have exclusivity at some of the other resorts who do not allow a single Maldivian to surf there. Perhaps these operators have paid a few local surfers to stage this protest

  13. Waves should be free?

    In that case, the black gold from the Arabian peninsula and the gas from the North Sea must also be FREE!

  14. What really happened was LAM's newly elected leader highrise Issey crunched at the last minute, fled the scene when he was needed most.

    the logic why is clear. He is the brother in law of defense minister Nazim. Nazim is instrumental in giving Thanburudhu to Telos Investment. Issey thought he can organize a rally against defense ministry decision. but he was advised otherwise by his brother in law. still he put up a good front to all surfers and live aboards to showcase his loyalty to the cause, but that was just a facade. at the last minute when it came to it, the guy takes a jolly holiday to Sri lanka and is nowhere to be seen. Coward!!!

  15. @kuribee on Sun, 1st Sep 2013 7:32 PM.

    A mad bugger like you can't know what it be for a surfer to lose a good wave.

    Until the perpetual "Nasheederection" that you have goes down, you cannot think strait. So you can shut up until that time.

    How can you imagine what a good free wave means to a surfer?

    Until what you have goes down, shut your self up!

  16. Ann is probably a SO thug that loves cross-dressing... and acting tough on the internet.

    To any Australians reading this, allow me to clarify some points.

    The current illegitimate regime wants to 'privatize' thamburudhoo. Why? We know that they're involved with drug and human trafficking. They need uninhabited island to serve as 'checkpoints' for their illegal cargo.

    Yes, your favorite surf sport is going to be used as a transit point for drugs and slaves. The police are the foremost profiteers from this setup, and that is why they panicked when they saw foreigners speaking against their dirty little plan.

    And yes, kuribee gets its cut from the drug gangs as well - thus its vocal defense of the enemy.

  17. Maldivian Man you are talking s**t and the island has been sold to a resort developer. Not sure what you're smoking but you've imagined the drug and people smuggling in your twisted brain! The locals and safari boat industry simply want to stop privatisation of their waves !


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