18-year-old infanticide suspect arrested

An 18-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of infanticide in Noonu Atoll Velidhoo Island on Sunday.

According to the Maldives Police Services, the baby was buried soon after birth, but a search for the baby has not yielded any results yet.

The police said they are not yet clear on when the 18-year-old had given birth or when she had buried the baby.


Ali Fahmy Ahmed wins MDP Feydhoo by-election primary

Ali Fahmy Ahmed, of Aafahi in Feydhoo, has won the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) primary to contest for a vacant seat on the Addu City Council.

Fahmy won the primary with 208 votes while his closest contender, Ibrahim Khaleel, received 141 votes. Five candidates contested in the primary held on Friday (August 8 ) and voting took place both in the capital Malé as well as the Feydhoo ward of Addu City.

A total of 628 ballots were cast, according to the results announced by the party yesterday.

The primary comes after Addu City councillor for the Feydhoo constituency, Abdulla Aswan, died of a heart attack on July 8.

The Elections Commission has since announced that a by-election for the vacant seat would take place on September 20. A by-election has also been scheduled for the same day for a vacant seat on the Noonu Velidhoo island council.

In January, MDP candidates won all six seats in the Addu City Council as well as a majority in the Velidhoo council.


Only one qualified candidate in call for 27 magistrates

The Judicial Services Commission called for 27 magistrates in March, but said only one of the 12 applicants qualified for the magistrate position

Ahmed Saeed Ali of Noonu Atoll Fohdhoo Island took his oath of office today and has been appointed as the magistrate of Noonu Atoll Velidhoo Island Court.


Ambergis worth estimated MVR50 million found by fisherman

A lone fisherman has found an object believed to be the incredibly rare substance, ambergris.

Local media reported that the object weighs 50kgs, and was found this morning (March 25) by Shareef Idhris whilst trawling near the Velidhoo channel.

“I saw an object floating about 30ft away. I went close to it, but then I rode away without picking it up. I went back and forth about three times before picking it up,” he told Haveeru.

“People say ambergris floats. I scraped off a bit of the object and it smelled weird, so I decided to take it to the island.”

The locals, who were fortunate enough to have come across ambergris before, have estimated it to be worth up to MVR50 million. Shareef is currently seeking to confirm that the objects is ambergris, but due to the island’s previous experience of ambergris he is confident in its authenticity.

In June 2012 police were required to guard 25kg of ambergris in Hanimaadhoo after disagreements fight broke out between those claiming to have first found the precious substance.
Ambergris occurs as a biliary secretion of the intestines of the sperm whale and can be found floating upon the sea, or lying on the coast. It’s most common use is in perfume due to its unique musky fragrance.

Comment: Urgent appeal from a deeply concerned community

The Velidhoo Future Foundation (VFF) was founded on March 2010 to develop the island of Velidhoo in Noonu Atoll and for the progression of its youth, whilst looking at environmental sustainability for the community, an issue which has emerged as vital the past few years.

Since its establishment, the VFF has developed many initiatives, and as the name indicates, they were all effectively undertaken for the future of the island of Velidhoo. This is done working with the society at grass root level, encouraging participation from everyone, be it local, national or international. Many successful projects have been jointly executed. The advantages of the combination of knowledge and skills of international volunteers together with local expertise and enthusiasm were realised and used to the benefit of the community in Velidhoo.

We are proud of our contribution to the development of our island, disseminating good practice and experience outside our own community too. Our aim is to make Velidhoo an example to be emulated in the field of effective household waste disposal, clean and usable beaches and enlightened, progressive citizens. We were well on our way of doing this, and the co-operation from local businesses, resorts, international volunteers, and particularly from the Velidhoo residents themselves has been over-whelming, very encouraging and definite steps in the right direction.

However, very sadly, the recent developments in both our country and our local community have abruptly halted our ongoing projects. Our community has now become deeply divided. Where before there was unity, solidarity and a real sense of working together for the good of all, now there is hate, suspicion and discontentment.

We are extremely worried that our common religion will be used as a means of sowing hate. We are already facing threats (like SMS and speeches) towards the European volunteers in our region, who are accused of preaching Christianity and therefore “should be thrown out of the country”. These accusations have no base and are completely unjustified, as the volunteers have done nothing but genuinely care for communities without religion ever coming in the context.

An ongoing cooperation with the State of Limburg (Belgium) has put been on hold. We were supposed to have hosted them in February. This project would have given the area a huge impetus for progress and growth, and ultimately it is the communities who will lose out and suffer from this delay.

We are extremely worried that the many NGOs and international organisations in Maldives would be considered “unwanted foreigners”. We desperately need international aid and projects for development. The influence of our volunteers has been positive and far-reaching – in education, training, tourism, environmental issues, marine conservation, even giving local enterprises more business through their activities. We are concerned that these partners will not be wanted.

So far, because of the good nature of these international bodies and volunteers, they have kept the true Maldivian situation to themselves, and tourism has not been affected much yet. But if this situation is allowed to continue, then the repercussions would be horrific. The main body of international tourists would start pulling out. Why would western societies wish to patronise a country where foreigners are generally regarded with hostility and malign ill-will and tolerated through gritted teeth only because of the dollars they bring in?

Furthermore, having had discussions with our members and people in different areas and regions, we can have only one conclusion: “what has happened” was a coup d’état – independent bodies, various local communities and organisations and the international press have confirmed it.

Being a grass roots organisation, I speak not only for my organisation, but also for most of the common Maldivian citizens: A new government should be decided by the ballot box. I am sure you will agree that this is the only way to resolve the current unrest and feelings of discontent and frustration which is draining our nation and giving us a negative image globally.

No one will be able to dispute the outcome of the ballot box.

Prompt elections will bring a solution which ensures a free, democratic and prosperous future for youth, people and our nation. Only fresh elections – for both Parliament and the President’s position can bring a peaceful solution for our now deeply divided nation.

Ibrahim ‘Shoppe’ Mohamed is the Chairperson of the Velidhoo Future Foundation.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Man found dead in apparent suicide on Velidhoo

Police have reported death of a 24 year-old man from Velidhoo in Noonu Atoll, after he was discovered hanged from ceiling fan in his room at 12:35pm yesterday.

An official from the island office told Minivan News that the man was discovered by his father.

“He lived a very normal life and worked in his brother’s restaurant on the island,” the official said.

”According to what most of the islanders are saying, he had this problem with his girlfriend’s father; he had not been accepted by him. He lived together on the island with his girlfriend from Male’ and they were about to get married, but her Dad sent a letter to the court saying he would not give the consent for the marriage to take place.”

Deputy Minister for Health Mariya Ali said the Maldives lacked a comprehensive mental health system, and that the number of psychiatrists in the country was inadequate.

“Normally a person with a serious mental condition will be assessed and taken to ‘Guraidhoo’ (a mental health rehabilitation centre) until their psychotic episode is over,” Mariya said. “But after being discharged, the aftercare is not very strong and patients may stop taking their prescriptions. Their condition can deteriorate and they can relapse.”

Furthermore, Mariya said that it was very likely that the country’s high rate of child sex abuse was leading to a high prevalence of mental health disorders in later life, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety problems, but that there was little general awareness of mental health issues in Maldivian society.

The Maldives also lacks the equivalent of a ‘Samaritans’ helpline, common in many developed countries, offering counselling and advice for people coping with depression or suicidal thoughts.

”The former government developed a draft mental health care policy with the assistance of the World Health Organisation (WHO), but it was never implemented,” Mariya noted. “We are now revising this policy and after that we should have an idea of what a mental health response system should look like.”