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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6 thoughts on “President thanks soldiers who fought for Maldives’ sovereignty on Victory Day”

  1. The generals locked up the armory and left us to die. We were pawns. Nothing more.

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  2. There are lots of Maldivian who believe Luthfee was a hero who had courage and tried to get rid of that Golhabeyya. If he was removed at that time even the blood of those who fought to save Golha’s ass was shed with some misfortunate bystanders, we would have been better today, Luthfee was humanist and good man who even that time new the value of freedom. It is not something Golha and his cronies should take as national triumph. Golhaa was responsible for that to happened, as he has harmed Luthfee for no reasons and was holding the power with his brutality and deceit . Luthfee had no option in finding justice during Golha’s period other than using force so Golaa should be punished for the blood that was shed in that operation.

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  3. The president forgot to thank the Indian Navy. Without their help your Victory Day would have been Disaster Day.
    Gratitude seems to be a quality that Maldivians lack. The Indian government should have billed you for the cost of the naval operation.

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  4. The author of the above article seem to have misunderstood the meaning of the word 'sovereignty'. In political theory sovereignty resides with the people, but in actual fact sovereignty rests with the authorities that control and rule the country.

    Countries fight either to get their independence or to keep their independence. Regimes fight either to keep their power or not to lose their grip on power.

    Gayoom led a regime and that regime effectively controlled the country of Maldives. Gayoom and Company was synonymous with the nation of Maldives, and they still are.

    That is so because the Tamil Tiger invasion with Maldivian collaborators, Luthfee included, failed in their endeavour to capture Maldives.

    The invader's lack of success was entirely due to Indian military intervention, and not at all due to the ability or willingness of either the Maldivian government or the people.

    India should have presented a bill to the Maldivian government. That should have taught a useful lesson to the Maldivians who have never been grateful to India for what they did for Maldives.

    There is something else that India should have done to the Maldives. India should have pressed for modernisation and reform By the Gayoom regime that controlled Maldives.

    Instead of doing that, the Indian government turned a blind eye to the dictatorial malpractices of Gayoom's feudal and theocratic family- based government.

    Indian policy towards Maldives is based on the principles of international law which says that Maldives is a sovereign state independent of other countries.

    Sovereignty can be a good thing. But it can also be a bad thing. In Maldives' case, I am not prepared to say it is a bad thing. But I would say it is a very unfortunate thing.

    Among other bad things, sovereignty has perpetuated Gayoom family's monopoly on power, that is real power, in the Maldives.

    With my education and experience as a Maldivian-born person, I would repeat that this monopoly is most unfortunate. It is even tragic.

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