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The British base at Gan, Nasir and the Suvadive Republic 1958-1968
Compiled from various sources including Gan Base official records, interviews with Maldivian historians and eye-witnesses, Ibrahim Shihab's 'The Reign of Sultan Mohamed Fareed, a historical perspective', and the writings of Abdul Hakeem Hussein Manik

1958 Nasir begins a series of meetings in Male' to discuss the future of the Maldives fishing industry. He flies to Ceylon and gives Koli Umar Manik and his son Ali Umar Manik financial control over the Maldivian representation in Ceylon. Nasir stops the practice of the Maldive representative holding the passports of visiting or resident Maldivians and controlling where they live in Ceylon.

Nasir arranges for young Maldivian women to attend tertiary education courses overseas.

The Gregorian calendar date system adopted from 1 January.

Two Feydhoo (Addu) women admit to affairs with Ceylonese workers from the military base being constructed at Gan. Fighting breaks out between Maldivian and Ceylonese workers. Many Ceylonese are removed from Gan and replaced with Pakistanis.

The Maldivian government complains about the state of the 500 ton ship Addiyatal Rahman, which had been found drifting in the Indian Ocean by a Russian vessel and then presented in poor condition as a gift to Maldives by the British.

In March, the British High Commissioner arrives in Male' aboard the HMS Gambia and stays in the harbour for twenty days. The Male' population considers the presence of the commissioner's ship is provocative. A smoking ritual is performed - a group of men wearing black and holding a smoking urn aboard a small vessel travel around the HMS Gambia and Dhoonidhoo island. As they pass the Gambia, smoke is blown onto the British ship. The fanditha smoke ritual is organised by Ibrahim Manik Dhon Manik of Endherimaage house. His son Abbas Ibrahim makes an effigy of the British ship and moves it whenever the ship changes its mooring position. After eight days of black magic, the Gambia leaves Male'.

A Ceylonese carpenter is murdered on Feydhoo, Addu, over affair with a Feydhoo woman. Another Ceylonese dies in a construction accident and the government of Ceylon bans its citizens from working at the Gan base.

The majlis in Male' rejects the Addu base agreement with the British, and ensuing negotiations between the new Nasir government and the British are protracted, but work continues with full Maldivian government support at Gan.

Women are allowed again into government jobs.

A dysentery epidemic in Maradhoo island on Addu and twenty-two people die. The British provide effective advice and medical care.

Towards the end of the year, the Maldivian government tells the British to cease work on the new base. The British political advisor at Gan protests that Costain Ltd must finish within two years or the Maldivian government will be responsible. Nasir responds by stopping workers' wages. Costain Ltd begins to secretly lobby influential men on Addu to secede from Maldives and establish a separate republic.

In October, Hithadhoo men threaten to attack Male' government office at Gan. The British mount defensive operations around Gan island, and the mob disperses when it reaches Maradhoo.

In November, Ibrahim Nasir orders the government office in Gan to cease supplying labour for the base. 2,000 islanders are working there. Costain Ltd arranges transport between Gan and the atoll's other islands, and construction continues despite problems with wage payments.

The custom of paying Maldivian island chiefs with a portion of their fishermen's catch is stopped in December, and a government salary is paid instead. The fishing boats in Male' and other island and atoll chiefs no longer have to pay a share of fish to the king and for the upkeep of the central tomb in Male'. Maldivian fishermen now own all their catch.

The situation on Addu is very tense, when the Maldivian Government Representative in Ceylon, Ahmed Zaki, flies into Gan and instructs the atoll chief to introduce a new law for fishing boat taxes. The southern revolt begins on New Year's Eve.

1959 At 8pm on New Year's Eve, Hithadhoo island chief Abdulla Afeef obeys instructions from his atoll chief and reads out the new tax bill for fishing vessels. The assembled crowd loudly rejects the bill and decides to move under cover of darkness and attack Ahmed Zaki at the Male' government office in Gan. Abdulla Afeef warns Zaki and escorts him to safety aboard a British naval vessel in Addu lagoon.

The British on Gan allow the destruction of the Male' government office by the islander mob. One Male' official is mistaken for Ahmed Zaki and badly beaten. The atoll office in Maradhoo is demolished.

Abdulla Afeef returns to Hithadhoo and prepares to join a secret evacuation flight with Ahmed Zaki, but Afeef is prevented from leaving by Hithadhoo islanders who threaten to demolish his house if he refuses to become their leader. The British political advisor Major Phillips takes part in these negotiations. Afeef agrees to lead the rebels and receives a secret letter of protection from the British.

On 3 January, an islander delegation visits Gan and says they wish to secede from Maldives and come under 'British protection and the British flag.' Within two weeks, on Huvadhu atoll to the north, a revolt occurs in Thinadhoo island, the stronghold of the family of former Huvadhu atoll chief Hirihamaz Kaleyfan, reputed to be the richest man in Maldives. Hirihamaz has been exiled by Ibrahim Nasir since the resignation of Ibrahim Ali Didi.

Support for the separatists is widespread on Huvadhu and Fua Mulak, but not unanimous.

In Male', the municipality office issues a public notice: 'It is not prohibited by the government for women, in the same way as men, to visit, for shopping and other purposes, the foreign and locally owned stores in the bazaar.' Days later, a group of five women go shopping in Male' after Ibrahim Nasir lifts dress restrictions and the prohibition on women appearing alone in public.

In March, the United Suvadive Islands Republic is announced. Fua Mulak and Huvadhu atolls are nominally part of this republic, but they are not represented in the republic's People's Council. Abdulla Afeef and councils on Addu's islands establish an independent administration, collecting taxes and providing education and law and order. For the first six months, islanders working at Gan are paid with vouchers for the base's NAAFI store, then pound sterling becomes local currency. The Maldive rufiya devalues by 80% in the south as traders link with the booming Addu sterling economy.

The Maldivian government demands removal of the British political advisor Major Phillips, and demands negotiations begin for full independence from the UK. A false invasion alarm on Addu prompts heightened British security arrangements in Gan base. Drill and target practice begins in April.

The Addu Trading Company and the People's Bank of Addu are established in the new southern republic, and Afeef organises the registration of land for the first time in Maldives.

Ibrahim Nasir holds a referendum which supports suppression of the southern revolt.

Maldivian government officials are prevented from landing on Fua Mulak. Shots are fired from their ship, and one islander is killed and four seriously wounded.

In May, the 'Olympus' 35mm cinema opens in Male'. An epidemic rages in Male' from 30 May to 10 June. Symptoms are a high temperature, fever and vomiting. 9,000 people are affected. Government offices are shut for nine days and several people die. Ibrahim Nasir personally manages control of the outbreak.

Ceylon sends arms shipment to Male'.

In July, Ibrahim Nasir leads an armed expedition of hundreds of men aboard the Maldive Star onto Fua Mulak and Huvadhu atolls. Thinadhoo island is attacked and the homes of Hirihamaz and his son Abdulla are sacked and their large gold holdings confiscated. Mass arrests follow and many are later tortured to death in Male'. Hirihamaz and two of his sons are believed to be among the dead. On Thinadhoo, the Male' militia occupy the island, close the schools, restrict food supplies and terrorise the islanders. Women are raped.

Two boatloads of Male' supporters from Huvadhu atoll are arrested in August at night in Addu lagoon. The British order the Cheshire regiment to Gan from Singapore.

Ibrahim Nasir is appointed for a five year term as prime minister.

In September, a letter is received in Colombo by the Maldivian Government Representative from the citizens’ majlis of Addu atoll. Another boatload of Maldivian intruders are captured in Addu lagoon.

The RAF facilitates interviews with Afeef in October by selected UK journalists. In October, Nasir ends the midnight curfew in Male'. It has been enforced since 1939.

Other major changes in the capital are the demolition of the Henveiru and Maafannu gates, and the establishment of a Fisheries Advisory Board. Nasir also begins negotiations to remove the Borahs' control of trade. Mohamed Ameen's debts are the main obstacle to an agreement.

The Maldives Shipping Line is initiated by Koli Ali Umar Manik (Koli Umar Manik's son) with permission from Ibrahim Nasir. When Nasir resigns in 1978, the company has 34 vessels.

By end of the year, the Maldivian government and the UK are once again seriously negotiating over the Gan base.

1960 The black market money rates in Male' are US$1 = Rf75 and UK pound = Rf100.

Hulhule' airport construction begins.

The government orders the establishment of island offices.

In January, the southern Republic of Suvadive is formally established, headed by Afeef Didi in Hithadhoo. Huvadhu and Fua Mulak atoll are also nominally part of Suvadive but the British give protection only to the Addu atoll area.

Then, in February, the British are granted a 30 year lease by the Male' government for Gan island and the Mamendu area of Hithadhoo island, and unrestricted lagoon access. The agreement confirms the sultan (king) of Maldives as the sole head of state, and reaffirms the 'UK government's desire and concern to promote an early reconciliation between the inhabitants of Addu atoll and the government of his highness the sultan.' The British withdraw the Cheshire regiment from Gan.

The Male' government receive a 'special grant' of 100,000 pounds from the UK and a further 750,000 pounds for specific projects.

The Addu Republic sends a letter to Male' agreeing to accept the sultan of Maldives as their head of state in Addu.

Private businessmen permitted to buy dried fish in April. The price of fish rises dramatically along with general food prices. King Mohamed Fareed persuades Nasir to re-introduce government fish buying and rationing.

In June, Nasir offers Abdulla Afeef a full pardon. Afeef and his supporters reject this proposal.

The Aminiya girls' school uniform in Male' is modernised to knee-high dresses and short sleeved shirts.

The new British representative Humphrey A. Arthington-Davy arrives at Male' and stays on a permanent basis in Dhoonidhoo island. He becomes head of a private social club called Nadi, which is later closed by Ibrahim Nasir over concerns about Arthington-Davy's relationships with the club's young male members.

In March 1961, Aminiya girls' school and Majeediya boys' school begin English medium education in Male'.

In Hithadhoo, Abdulla Afeef uses The Addu Times, a Dhivehi language newspaper to promote a scheme for the public to buy a fifty percent share in a Rp600,000 modern fishing boat, at four gold coins per share, with the People's Bank of Addu managing director Moosaji providing the other half of the capital.

Near Male', islanders are shifted from Viligili to Hulhule'. In May, Arthington-Davy arrives on Addu for several days of heated and fruitless talks with Abdulla Afeef and his supporters. The British representative demands Addu establish official relations with Male' within two months.

A Montessori school and the kindergarten Nasiriya open in Male'.

On 14 June, there is a revolt against the Male' government in Thinadhoo island on Huvadhu atoll, and five days later another revolt in Fua Mulak. On 22 June, a report in The Addu Times lists reasons for the revolts:
1. A complete shortage of foodstuffs on Huvadu atoll for a considerable time 'which led the public to face a miserable condition of life'.
2. The non-availability of other living essentials i.e. clothing, kerosene oil etc. Lighting was so poor that many families were burning coconut leaves in place of oil lamps.
3. Bad administration and corruption of local affairs by the occupying Male' gangs such as punishing innocent people, raping etc.
4. Heavy taxes.
5. Restrictions on the traditional trade with India and Ceylon.
6. Restriction of trade with neighbouring atolls.
7. Monopoly of the fish trade by the Male' government.
8. The introduction of rationing, with one coconut and a small quantity of fish for each person per day.

In July, Addu sends its statement of demands to Male'. They are rejected by the majlis and Nasir is authorised to deal with the rebels. The Male' militia led by Ibrahim Nasir attack the rebels on Thinadhoo island.

In August, the British repatriated the Male' government captives it had arrested in Addu lagoon. They had been held by Afeef's administration in Viligili near Gan. The British airdrop vaccines and other medical supplies on Male' to combat a typhoid epidemic in the capital.

The Male' atoll committee is formed. The national plan is to have an elected atoll committee in each atoll running activities and helping the government.

Hulhule' airport, adjacent to Male', is completed in November.

In December, the British award a KCMG to king Mohamed Fareed. Lord Mountbatten describes the Gan airstrip as the best in the Commonwealth, and an earthquake rocks Male'.

On 3 February 1962, Ibrahim Nasir aboard the Silver Crest leads another armed attack on Thinadhoo at Huvadhu atoll and on Fua Mulak. Thinadhoo island is leveled and the population dispersed. Many people starve to death after they are driven from Thinadhoo onto surrounding islands.

In March, the Maldivian government stops burials in mosque graveyards in Male', declaring that henceforth the four ward cemeteries must be used. The British attempt to restore Addu to Male' rule in April, but a large violent demonstration in Gan rejects any change.

Borah traders are banned from doing business in Maldives from August onwards. Permission to trade was first granted over 100 years before in 1857. Koli Umar Manik (Nasir's business advisor) and others benefit from the subsequent exchange rate changes. The Borahs have to barter their property before they leave Male'.

That same month, there is a large peaceful demonstration in Gan against Male' government rule, and again in September, there is yet another large demonstration in Gan against ending the Addu republic.

Radio telephones begin operating between Male' and the atolls in November. The British send a frigate to Male' without invitation and jam wireless telegraph traffic between Male' and Colombo. British citizens are evacuated from Male' after demonstrations condemning UK inaction over the Addu republic.

In December, radio broadcasts begin in Male', and the traditional afternoon drumming to ward off the Rannamari sea demon is stopped in the capital.

1963 Maldives Free Port Act comes into effect in Male', and remains until 1980.

In September, the British agree to return Addu to Male' control by the end of the year. The British political advisor Rounswaite actively lobbies Addu businessmen against Afeef and his administration. The UK is planning to establish a new and more powerful BBC short wave relay station on Maldives to serve Asia and East Africa. A British regiment from Butterworth in Malaysia is ordered to Gan, and Rounswaite orders the Maldives flag to be raised in Maradhoo island. Afeef and his supporters agree to end their revolt. and on 30 September Abdulla Afeef and his family are taken to Seychelles aboard HMS Loch Lomond.

The Butterworth regiment return to Malaysia in October and Ibrahim Nasir demands independence as a further price of the Addu facilities. Maldives joins Colombo Plan.

Eleven survivors in a drifting Maldives vessel are rescued off the coast of Sumatra. Nine people had died of exposure and starvation on the vessel.

After promising amnesty for all Adduans, Ibrahim Nasir now demands six months exile for Abdulla Afeef and other Addu leaders. Vandalism occurs on fuel and facilities in Hulhule' and there is anti-British trouble on Addu. Independence talks between Maldives and UK are delayed.

By December, Male' government officials are encouraging strike action against the base on Addu.

1964 Women are permitted to vote in Maldives, and the Girl Guides established in Male'.

A sustained anti-British campaign sponsored by Nasir continues in Male' and Addu. Arthington-Davy complains to Nasir in March about the delay in establishing a BBC relay station on Addu, and Hulhule' airport becomes unusable after sabotage in April.

A PA system is first used for the call to prayer in Male'.

The British resident in Male' is a target of a loud and abusive demonstration. Vegetation on Dhoonidhoo island is vandalised. The British withdraw their plan for BBC relay station and agree to revise 1960 agreement.

Male' newspapers announce that Abdulla Afeef's amnesty has been withdrawn.

By May, the British resident finds himself confined to Dhoonidhoo, though restrictions are lifted on British base in Addu.

Changes are made to Maldives constitution.

In June, the British resident is evacuated from Dhoonidhoo with Nasir's permission. Restrictions are placed again on the British in Addu.

The first motorised fishing boat built in Maldives in Hulhule' boatyard in July.

The new Addu atoll chief Moosa Ali Didi bans visits to the atoll's islands by British medical and hygiene teams. Resentment in the atoll increases against Moosa Ali Didi when he trades secretly with the base for personal items.

In August there is a revolt among Hithadhoo workers who attempt to kill Moosa Ali Didi after non-payment of share capital in the Addu Trading Company. The atoll chief uses the remainder of the Gan base's local workforce against the Hithadhoo islanders, and 78 people are arrested.

Independence talks with UK begin in Colombo.

In September, the Hithadhoo prisoners taken to Male' and sentenced to 5 years jail. A riot occurs in Gan as Maldivians attack the base.

Though malaria increases in Addu during October, the Male' government forbids spraying by British teams.

In November, a Russian research ship Vityaz anchors in Addu lagoon near the Gan base without protest from the Male' government.

The first eye operation is performed in Male' to remove of cataracts.

1965 This year Maldives recognises Israel.

In February, the practice of reading the verses of the hadith as the kateeb enters the mosque for the Friday prayer ceases.

In March, spraying equipment from Gan base is given to the Addu atoll chief, but the British are still forbidden to enter the islands. Feydhoo/Maradhoo people are permitted to collect subsistence rice again from the Gan base, and 300 sacks are issued immediately.

In May, anti-malarial spraying by the British commences again on Addu.

In June, ten Aminiya girls sit for the Royal Society of Arts Ordinary Examination.

Maldives becomes a fully independent republic in July.

In September, a cinema supplied by the RAF opens in Hithadhoo and the first radio telephone link opens between Male' and Addu. Maldives joins UN and UN Development Program.

In October a typhoid outbreak occurs in Male', and the RAF are permitted to inspect and advise on the situation. The following month, Maldives joins WHO.

In January 1966, the new Maldivian embassy opens in Colombo and Abdul Sattar Moosa Didi becomes the first ambassador for Maldives. When Hulhule' airport opens in April, Air Ceylon flight makes first commercial landing.

In August, the inhabitants of Thinadhoo island, dispersed by Ibrahim Nasir in 1962, are officially permitted to resettle on their home island. Planning and reconstruction are done at government expense.

1967 The National Company (formed by Mohamed Ameen), Maite Company, Orchid Company and Cinema Company, which were dominating trade in Maldives, are abolished and the Athiri Maafannuge Trading Account, ATA, run by Ibrahim Nasir, takes over. Ameena Didi, Mohamed Ameen's daughter, and her husband Mahir, are exiled by Nasir. Ameena is working as Nasir's private secretary when she and her husband are accused of plotting against him.

In January, seven Majeediya boys and four Aminiya girls sit for the London O Level Examination.

Maldives joins International Telecommunications in February. Several months later, Maldives joins the future International Maritime Organisation, and in August the country joins the Universal Postal Union.

In October, the government hospital opens in Male' with British assistance. Renamed the Central hospital, it is now (2009) known as ADK.

The majlis votes for republic in November.

1968 Maldivians who find ambergris and similar things in the sea are now permitted to keep what they find without tax from the government. In March, the shifting of Giraavaru people to Hulhule' begins. Later, they are moved from Hulhule' to reclaimed land in Maafannu ward, Male'.

A referendum is held, and over 90% support formation of a republic. In November, Ibrahim Nasir becomes President of the Republic of Maldives.

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