Afeef Didi's Letter to the Times.
IN THE MALDIVES.
THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
have noted with interest statements in the press and radio concerning
the present political situation in the Maldives and in particular
reports of the various utterances of the Male Government representatives
in Ceylon and London. To present our side of the picture is the
aim of this letter.
of our reasons for the secession from Male the old capital of the
Maldives are as follows: The indifference of their administration
to the elementary needs of the people of these islands food, clothing,
medicine, education, social welfare etc. For many years we have
been reduced to surfs and tied by extortionate taxes and levies.
At the commencement of this year further taxes were imposed and
the people who had nothing left to give revolted.
in mind we have not a single doctor for 18,000 undernourished people,
nor any medical supplies. We have no schools, no means of communication,
no public utilities. All this is certainly the fault of Male. Epidemics
of Asian flu, malaria, enteritis, typhoid, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis
&c. sweep our islands periodically during the year, and in 1958
we had a serious outbreak of dysentery causing deaths. We appealed
to the Male government for help. They refused to help and very piously
told us to go on reading the Quran! The RAF doctors came to our
aid, supplied medicines and visited the sick day and night. Can
you wonder that we hate Male?
main export from these islands was dried Maldive fish which we sent
to Male for sale in Ceylon. Payment was made to Male in Ceylon rupees
but we were forced by Male to accept Maldivian rupees in return.
One Maldivian rupee is worth only half a Ceylon rupee and we had
then to buy what food we could afford from Male at Ceylon prices.
presence of the British in Addu Atoll had absolutely nothing to
do with the will of the people to break from Male. Attempts have
been made before and as recently as 18 months ago men were imprisoned
for trying to make an improvement. The RAF at Gan Island had no
knowledge of our intention to make an uprising on the first day
of 1959. It was calculated action by the people to show Male that
we are determined never again to submit to the despotic rule of
a government of one family.
wish to make it clear that we have set up a Government unanimously
elected by the will of the people. We are a State of 18,000 people
willing and able to support ourselves in spite of Male. We are now
the United Suvadive Islands. Our immediate policy is betterment
of our people, friendliness to all nations and particularly the
British who have sincerely helped and wisely guided the Maldives
whenever we dared to do so in the past.
are in favour of the staging post and radio station at Gan and Hitadu
Islands respectively, which must bring economic development and
prosperity to our islands. We earnestly appeal to your great and
generous country for help and understanding. We have been inhabiting
these islands from time immemorial, possessing thereby inalienable
rights over them. The ownership thereof cannot certainly be claimed
by the Male Government. We therefore appeal to the British Government
to kindly grant us facilities to open negotiations at once with
a view to conclude a Treaty of friendship and co-operation between
Her Majesty's Government and the United Suvadive Islands.
hope the British Government and people will appreciate the justice
of our cause and recognize the United Suvadive Islands at once.
President, United Suvadive Islands
The Secretariat, Hitadu
United Suvadive Islands.
The Rise and Fall of Suvadive