‘Minivan 50’ (Independence 50) logos displayed on the walls of the Sharafuddin School and Maldives Road Development Corporation (MRDC) site in Addu City were vandalised with crude oil on Saturday night.
Addu City mayor Abdulla Sodiq told Maldives Independent that a lot of Maldivian flags draped across the island of Hithadhoo to mark the golden jubilee of independence have also removed. The police are currently investigating the incidents and no arrests have yet been made, he added.
The Maldives marked 50 years of independence from the British on July 26 with grand celebrations in Malé, including a music show, parade, and fireworks. The celebratory activities have largely been confined to the capital.
In a Facebook post yesterday, the MRDC’s site manager, Ibrahim Rasheed Wajdy, described the vandalism as acts of “traitors.”
“Whether it’s digested or not, no matter who the ruler is, the Maldivian flag will be the nation’s symbol,” he wrote.
A “terrorist” could not be freed outside of legal bounds, he added, referring to former President Mohamed Nasheed who was convicted of terrorism charges in March over the military’s detention of a judge during his tenure.
The opposition leader’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment to 13 years in jail triggered a six-month-long political crisis with daily protests and two mass anti-government demonstrations.
Following talks between the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) and government representatives, opposition supporters expected Nasheed to be pardoned ahead of the Independence Day celebration on July 26.
However, the prosecutor general’s office revealed last week that the state will appeal the guilty verdict at the High Court. The MDP has called on the government to honour its commitments to release Nasheed and other jailed politicians after the party’s MPs backed the government in several crucial votes in parliament.
Meanwhile, three young men were also reportedly arrested from the island of Velidhoo in Noonu atoll on suspicion of spray painting ‘Minikan 50’ (flesh eating 50) on a wall of a private residence.
The MDP Velidhoo branch told the opposition-aligned Raajje.mv website that the Manadhoo magistrate court has ordered the police to hold the three suspects in remand detention for five days.
In stark contrast to the capital, where millions have been spent on erecting monuments, renovating public parks, and decking every street, tree, and government building in red, green, and white lights, no official celebrations have taken place in Addu City. Only five public buildings in the southernmost atoll were decorated with lights.
The island of Gan in Addu atoll hosted a British air base from 1957 to 1967. A dispute over the air base and a secessionist movement in Addu, Fuvahmulah and Huvadhoo were partly responsible for the negotiations for independence.
Ahead of the 50th anniversary of independence this week, several Adduans told Maldives Independent that the atoll’s development took a U-turn since the British left, with successive government’s neglecting the southernmost atoll.