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Iyye, Yesterday - Chapter 8
Truth is Bitter - Ibrahim Didi did not give Ameen Didi to the mob
Abdul Hakeem Hussein Manik
10 August 1997

translated by Fareesha Abdulla with assistance from Majid Abdul-Wahhab and Michael O'Shea

Two ladies have said that Velaanaage Ibrahim Didi handed Ameen Didi over to the mob when he attempted to regain power in 1953. One of the women was not in Maldives when the event occurred and the other was so frightened by what was happening in Male' that she did not leave her home all day.

Two other people around 60 years old, who are well aware of the historical facts, have also accused Ibrahim Didi.

Did the first president of Maldives, Mohamed Amin Didi die a natural death? or... Was President Amin MURDERED?
Mohamed Shathir
Sept 2001

Mohamed Amin Didi (the first president of the republic of Maldives) was born on 20 July 1910. If he were alive today, he would have been 91 years old. Son of Ahmed Doshimeyna Kilegefan and Aishath Didi of Athireege, he was educated at St Joseph's College and St John's College of Ceylon and Aligar University of India.

Amin's first job was as the deputy private secretary to the king. He became the trade minister of the first government that was formed after the implementation of the new constitution in 1932.

After 1944, Amin Didi filled important ministerial positions in the sultanate of Maldives, such as the home minister and even the foreign minister. He became the prime minister to the king on 29 October 1944.

His brief tenure as the first President of the Republic of Maldives was from 1 January 1953 to 21 August 1953 - seven months and 21 days.

He should be known as the 20th century leader of the country who initiated most of the enterprising ventures in the country. Not only did President Amin initiate these ventures but he also got personally involved.

He initiated the modern education of women. He was the patron of the girls' section of Madurasathul Sunnyaa (the present Aminiyaa school). He built a boarding (Dhaarul Igaam) in Male' for the students from the outer atolls to study in the better schools of Male'. President Amin started a scholarship programme for Maldivian students to obtain education abroad.

His social services include the groundbreaking work that he did to obtain the hitherto unknown entity of women's rights.

His foresight showed him the importance of recreation and sports in building a well-balanced youth; this led him to create sports clubs, organise sports tournaments, establish sports grounds and organise carnivals.

He took important steps to develop and modernize the then relatively backward island nation of Maldives. He has the enviable record of visiting all, except one, of the inhabited islands of the country. This was a feat that he achieved at a time when there were no inter-island air travel and no luxury speed boats.

It was under President Amin Didi that we had proper roads in our islands. (Prior to that there were no roads as such, people just moved over fences and imaginary paths).

In the area of business, economy and finance; we have to take note that it was under his leadership that we established the first government owned business outlet, Rayyithunge Bodu Store (People's Big Store). The far-sighted steps he took enabled Maldives to escape from the economic claws of the Voaraa (Borah) businessmen from India who were sucking the biggest share of profits from the export of fish products from Maldives.

In Maldivian literary circles, Mohamed Amin is famous as the 'Bearer of the Golden Pen' and the 'Bearer of the Silver Tongue'. This is testimony to his greatness as a writer and an orator. President Amin also gets the credit for introducing print media (newspapers and journalism) to Maldives. He was the editor of the first Maldivian newspaper, Sarukaaru Habaru (Government News), the first issue of which was published on 5 June 1943.

He is also the Maldivian writer who wrote books in Dhivehi language on the most number of topics. He has written books on nationalism, health, geography, good manners, Dhivehi language, war, food, history, culture, republic and even traditional medicine.

President Amin was responsible for publishing the first dictionary in Dhivehi language and also marking the first 'National Day'. It was under his presidency that we saw our first national anthem composed. It is arguable that Mohamed Amin Didi is the Maldivian personality of the 20th century.

He was also the head of the two-member delegation that first represented Maldives in an international convention or meeting.

Also, Mohamed Amin formed the first political party of Maldives (the Muthagaddim Party).

President Mohamed Amin's death!
There are many reasons for the bloodless coup that overthrew the first presidency of the first republic that was established in the Maldives on 1 January 1953. Seven months after the inauguration of our first republic and president, on 21 August 1953, a mob attacked President Amin and inflicted incurable injuries to his body which led to his death shortly afterwards.

Perhaps one of the main reasons for this coup and the fatal attack on President Amin was that his vice president, Ibrahim Mohamed Didi, was not fully loyal to the president.

At the time of the coup, President Amin was on an official trip to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and he had given all authority and powers to his vice president to run the country and the government. Being the vice president, and being in a position of power, Ibrahim Mohamed Didi exercised that power to betray his president. Hence this coup could not be interpreted as a people's uprising.

Another reason for President Amin's short-lived rule was the implementation of some regulations about which the people were unhappy. Some of these regulations include the ban on the import of all tobacco-related goods. But this was an economically motivated legislation that was introduced after proper endorsements from the parliament.

The day of the bloodless coup was Friday 21 August 1953. The leaders of the coup were Velaanaage Ibrahim Mohamed Didi (then vice president) and Ibrahim Famuladeyri Kilegefan of Eggamuge.

Vice President Ibrahim Mohamed Didi sent a morse-code message to President Amin at the Maldivian government mission in Colombo, in which he asked the president to urgently return and take control of the volatile situation. This message could actually be interpreted as a trap to entice Amin to Maldives and neutralize him.

President Amin returned to Maldives in a British RAF flight, 10 days after the coup (not fully knowing the situation, as communication between Maldives and the international community at the time was virtually non-existent).

Vice President Didi received President Amin and on their way by boat to Male', the boat headed to Dhoonidoo island. The leaders of the coup (Amin didn't know this) advised him that it was unsafe to return to Male' at the time. President Amin told them that he could calm the people if he was taken to Male' but the coup-leaders didn't listen to him.

President Amin was detained in Dhoonidoo island for four months from that day. During that period the head of the government was Ibrahim Mohamed Didi (who betrayed his boss).

President Amin's son-in-law (daughter Ameena's husband) Kakaage Shamsudeen Hilmy and Kakaage Ibrahim Hilmy Didi secretly arranged for President Amin to return to Male' from Dhoonidoo. That was 30 December 1953. Their aim was to reinstall the democratically elected government. But this turned out to be a fatal move.

The leaders of the coup learnt of the secret transfer of Amin to Male' and consequently a mob was led to attack President Amin, which caused almost mortal injuries to him. After this attack, Amin was taken to Vihamanafushi (now Kurumba Village resort) and left to die there.

In the court trials that followed, Kakaage Shamsudeen Hilmy and Kakaage Ibrahim Hilmy Didi were banished to a faraway island for their role in secretly bringing Amin to Male' from Dhoonidoo island. Because of the grievous injuries inflicted on Amin, he was not banished but kept in isolation in an uninhabited island close to Male' (Vihamanaafuhi).

Amin Didi did not survive even one month in Vihamanafuhi. He quietly passed away, unable to take the pain from the torturous injuries caused to him by some of his beloved subjects led by his trusted vice president!

They could have sent Amin to Sri Lanka for medical treatment. It would have been better had they even banished him to a faraway island where people would have given him local medical treatment. But the leaders of the coup kept him under their control and saw that President Amin died.

President Mohamed Amin passed away on 19 January 1954. He was at his peak, only 44 years old at the time.
Monday Times
Male' Maldives
4 September 2001

After persuading Mohamed Ameen, Shamsudeen and others to join him, Ibrahim Hilmy launched a terrorist attack on Male' in the middle of the night of Wednesday 30 December 1953. As they had planned, the men first went to police headquarters where Ibrahim Hilmy and twelve strong men armed with batons persuaded some police to join them before they all moved on to Maajehige house.

One of the policemen banged on the door and called out to Ibrahim Didi that a ship had been wrecked and a group of people had gathered at police headquarters. But Ibrahim Didi checked outside and saw there was serious trouble. He quickly jumped over a wall into the mosque grounds and ran towards the Galolhu ward public square. He gathered people together and then hurried off to find out where the rebels had gone. He found them in front of Maabageechaage house.

Having failed to get hold of Ibrahim Didi, Ibrahim Hilmy had rushed off to Maabageechaage with his men and called on Mohamed Fareed to come out and be made the king. Ibrahim Rasheed went outside when he heard people shouting. Rasheed said that at Maabageechaage he saw Aisa Fulhu's Dhohokko grabbed Naifaru Moosa Manik in a headlock. He screamed in a terrible way. Kosheege Hussein Kaleyfaan was also a witness (he attends the majlis and was the manager of Buruneege shop). Velaanage Ibrahim Didi came out onto the street from a small lane. He grabbed the baton in Ibrahim Hilmy's hands and said, 'Look at what you are doing!' Then he gave the order to take Ibrahim Hilmy away and lock him in leg stocks.

Many people were gathered there and they made Hussein Kaleyfaan their leader. Hussein says they did not go along the main square when they took Ibrahim Hilmy away to put him in the stocks. Instead they went into a narrow lane and along a dark deserted street. They took him into the Bandeyrige building through the northside gate and put him in stocks there.

Think about this for a moment. Ibrahim Didi, who is accused of handing Ameen over to the mob, would have borne an even bigger grudge against Ibrahim Hilmy! Hilmy had just tried to kill him!

Ibrahim Didi then ran to the main square with Rasheed rushing after him.

Earlier, when Ibrahim Hilmy went off to Maajehige, Mohamed Ameen and Shamsudeen went into police headquarters and asked Dhapparu Moosa Manik if he recognised Ameen as his leader. Ameen was wearing a 'fah elhi' shirt, and Shamsudeen was holding a pistol.

Moosa Manik told me that he was shocked but his immediate reply was, 'You're not a chief now, though you were a teacher of mine.'

Moosa said the others present were Tinu Ali Fulhu and Feridhooge Dhon Tuttu. When Shamsudeen asked Mohamed Ameen if he should fire his pistol, Ameen said no, according to Moosa. The main square was full of people when Mohamed Ameen gave a folded piece of paper to Feridhooge Dhon Tuttu. It was Ameen's new program.

Then Ameen went out and stood in front of the crowd. Three policemen arrested Shamsudeen and took him through the building and into the Bandeyrige where he was locked up, said Moosa.

According to Gulhi Kuda Huttu who witnessed the scene, Ameen Didi said, 'I am your leader' and immediately Feebis Moosa Fulhu angrily yelled out, 'You're not the leader! You're the Rannamari (evil sea demon) who takes young women's virginity.'

At this point Ibrahim Didi arrived and seeing the extent of the anger in the crowd towards Ameen, Ibrahim took him into protective custody by grabbing Ameen's hand and leading him back inside. Ibrahim gave instructions for Ameen to be handcuffed and Moosa Manik told the writer that Tinu Ali Fulhu put the cuffs on.

The doors and windows of police headquarters were locked as the crowd began to chant for Ameen to be handed over to them. People smashed the wooden doors and the wooden bars on the windows, and they entered the building. They dragged out Mohamed Ameen. Ibrahim Didi could not stop them.

At the square even before the crowd took Ameen through the Sakkaranguaa gate, Ibrahim Didi and Ibrahim Nasir held onto Ameen, trying to protect him. An eyewitness, young Sarangu Mohamed Adam Manik said that Ibrahim Didi and Nasir fought hard.

'I had been very close to Ameen Didi,' Sarangu Mohamed said, 'and had never done anything to displease him. When he was taken ill, I used to attend him in the upper level of the Athireege house. But I am talking about the facts of these events and it all happened because of the way he arrived in Male' and because of the intensity of anger among the people.'

Ibrahim Waheed said to the writer, 'I also went to the square. I was in the group that broke down the door at police headquarters. And with a bar from a window in my remaining unamputated hand, I hit Ameen's head with a blow that should have killed him. Then I did whatever other harm I could. I kicked him and tore at his clothes, trying to expose his nakedness.'

Gulhi Kuda Hutthu said, 'We were asleep in the shop when we heard a loud noise. We opened the door and went outside. People were yelling that Ameen Didi had arrived and taken over the police headquarters and murdered Ibrahim Didi. Everybody had to go to the main square, they said. When I reached that place, Ameen was just beginning to address the crowd. Feebis Moosa Maniku made his challenge to Ameen right in front of me.'

If anyone was going to be given to the mob that day, it would have been Ibrahim Hilmy rather than Mohamed Ameen.

Before the Northern Revolt, Ibrahim Hilmy had been dismissed as the under secretary of the home ministry, and Velaanaage Ibrahim Didi was given his position. Hilmy resigned from other posts and then Mohamed Ameen dismissed him from all government service.

Ibrahim Hilmy always said that Velaanaage Ibrahim Didi was an uneducated barbarian unsuitable for government work. After all this, here was the night when Ibrahim Didi had complete power and everyone was ready to do whatever he asked.

His enemy, Ibrahim Hilmy had come with weapons to kill him. To have given Mohamed Ameen to the mob and not Ibrahim Hilmy, does not make sense.

Ibrahim Hilmy was in good health, he did not have a serious illness. He was a well-educated, skilled and capable nobleman and an immensely articulate writer and orator.

On the other hand, Mohamed Ameen was suffering from the worst kind of diabetes and high blood pressure. Ameen admits that he was less able and skilled than Hilmy but Ameen was exemplary in bravery, daring and motivation.

Ameen lost his health and remained ill for some time. He was away being treated when the leadership changed and was brought back and kept in custody in Dhoonidhoo island.

Under these circumstances, there is no way Ibrahim Didi would have given Ameen to the mob.

The writer was not at Male' when all this happened - I was in Colombo. Famudheyri Kilegefan was also in Colombo and Ameen died while we were there.

This record is based on eyewitness accounts and the previous piece was exactly what was written by the ministry of training in the Sarukaaruge Khabaru newsletter.

Mohamed Ameen passed away on 18 January 1954. Sarangu Mohamed Adam Manik said that when Ameen was beaten and bashed, he was carried aboard a bokkura but Ibrahim Didi and Nasir went to the customs and transferred him onto a battheli. Ameen was lying there naked and they sent for decent clothes and had him dressed.

'Loajehibe and I brought some tea and dry buns for Ameen,' Sarangu Mohamed Adam Manik told me. 'Ameen said he couldn't eat the buns but he drank the tea. He didn't seem to be feeling any pain yet. He was in a state of numbness, I guess.'

Additional comment
Velaanaage Ibrahim Didi dislikes me. After the changes, he occasionally spoke to me in Buruneege. My father passed away in 1936/37. In those days my younger brother Ahmed Manik was a very skilled tailor and a close friend of Ibrahim Didi. Ahmed went constantly to Maajehige house to sew clothes; he was well paid, and received gifts as well. For a long time he was Ibrahim Didi's tailor and when the leadership changed, Ibrahim made Ahmed Manik the atoll chief of Mulaku atoll.

Ibrahim Hilmy was a friend of mine as early as 1914. He used to give me gifts. Once I received three volumes of commentary on the whole of the Koran, and two volumes of accurate Bukhari hadith and commentary. A year before the Northern Revolt, I had a serious typhoid attack. Ibrahim Hilmy visited me personally with Dr Ahmed and sometimes he sent over Zahir Naseer. Baadeege Mohamed Didi, a prominent employee of Athiri Fan'diyaaruge and my close relative, was released from his work duties to help me.

From that day until his death, Ibrahim Hilmy was my best friend. As a consequence of this relationship, all the nobles of the Kakaage family became friends of mine.

However, when weighing things in the balance of history, Velaanaage Ibrahim Didi turned out to be much better so that is how I wrote it. The Arab proverb says, 'Truth is bitter.' We have to accept that Velaanaage Ibrahim Didi was the better man, because when he took hold of the baton that would have killed him, he did not use it to smash Hilmy's head even though he had the power to do so. This reminds me of the 'Dhu-u sooru's waaqia'.

The services of about eight patriotic people
In Maldives, whenever there is a serious problem it always produces a group of people who are faithful to the ummah and have good intentions for the nation.

Maldives was freed from Portuguese colonisation by only six people – Utheem Bodu Takurufan and his five followers.

During the time when the Malabaris captured Maldives and raised the flag of the Raja of Cannanore on the Male' fort, not even four months passed before the brave Muleege Dhon Hassan Manik and Addu Eduru Takurufan freed the country with the help of 200 followers. In the ashige of the Veyo Ganduvaru, it was Muleege Dhon Hassan Manik who put out the tilly lamp and then ambushed and captured Kanaka Foolu, the Cannanore Raja's governor. Addu Eduru Kaleyfan stabbed his lance into the darkness. The details of this incident have been written at length in some of the issues of Aafathis.

Because of the harm inflicted upon the country by its leader, the population was reduced from 80,000 to 40,000 as people died of starvation in Maldives. The population was eating sea lettuce leaves from the shoreline scrub. In Male', the doshimeyna plant leaves ran out and people were starving. There were lots of Dhivehi banknotes, but nothing to buy.

This was the state of affairs when, on 1 January 1953, a powerful dictatorship was publicly proclaimed in the name of a republic. The title of President was 'valiyyul-amru' - the rightful holder of the power of command, and giver of orders. His full name was Sahibul Fakhama al-Amir Mohamed Ameen Doshimeyna Kilegefan. The situation at that time can be understood from an essay by Ibrahim Shihab that is included in this journal.

After about six months of a government that came to power in the name of a republic, a meeting was held one afternoon in the Nadhee Thamaddhunu building where about 50 people from each Male' ward were invited. In his address to the meeting, Mohamed Ameen said that all the people in Maafannu ward were thieves. On that day shortly after sunset, I had a conversation with Ibrahim Zaki (Tutteedeebe) and the details of the discussion can be found in Aafathis.

As the situation in Maldives and Male' deteriorated day by day, starvation intensified and there was no clothing material. Then the inevitable occurred. A young man, hearsay identifies him as Mohamed Zaki, spoke to his father Ibrahim Zaki who told him to discuss the matter with his uncle Velaanaage Ibrahim Didi. They talked about the poverty-stricken condition of the people of Maldives, the dying population and lack of clothing leaving people in a state of nakedness. Maldivians produced enough to earn a much better standard of living and this was the reason Ameen's rule must cease.

During this same period, Buruneege Ibrahim Didi, Kakage Tuttu Manipulu (Hussein Habeeb) and Famudeyri Tuttu Didi discussed the same issue in Buruneege house. After reaching an agreement, they discussed the matter with Velaanaage Ibrahim Didi.

At that time, Mohamed Ameen was in Colombo for medical treatment. A very close female friend said that he went via Colombo to Madras and was admitted to hospital there. Different people tell this story in different ways.

The topic we are discussing is the changing of leadership and rescue of the people from cruelty and starvation. With this noble intention, both young and elderly men cooperated together. They were Mohamed Zaki, Ahmed Zaki, Maajehige Mohamed Didi and Ibrahim Nasir. Some other young people from the island are also said to have joined in. Meetings were held at the house of al-Haj Gulhi Eesa Kaleyfan in Maafannu ward. Mohamed Hussein Manik took part and at the last minute most of the people in Maafannu joined them as well.

Before noon on 21 August 1953, my younger brother Ahmed Manik said to me, 'Dhonbeybe, when Friday prayer ends, the militia will gather at the main square and Mohamed Ameen will be removed from the leadership. Even now people are walking around smoking cigars and cigarettes in the streets.'

As I reached the minaret on my way to Friday prayer, I met al-Haj Gulhi Eesa Kaleyfaan and he told me that when the president was absent and the vice-president was in charge. In the mosque, Sheikh Abdul Gayyoom led the prayer. During the sermon, when he reached the thaaniyaa he pronounced the name 'Sahibul Fakamath Mohamed Ameen'. I thought to myself, this would be the last day that name would be said. The account of these events has been written in Aafathis.

Straight after the giving of salaam, there was loud yelling and I hurried towards the noise. The square was full of people all facing north. At the front of the crowd were Mohamed Zaki, Dapparu Ibrahim Didi, Liya Koi Kalu Huttu, Jariya Moosa Kaleyfan and Addu Hussein Manikfan. At the gate of police headquarters I saw 'those who hold the nation dear' - Ibrahim Mohamed Didi (Velaanaage Ibrahim Didi) and Famudeyri Kilegefan. They were replying to the chanting crowd and saying that things could not be done that way.

The people were calling out that Mohamed Ameen was no longer the leader and the constitution was abolished along with the senate and the people's house. Kilegefan said that Maldives was a republican government and changes should be made democratically.

Everyone yelled out that that there was no republican rule, no democracy and no rights for people in the constitution. 'The constitution was written to give Mohamed Ameen the right to do whatever he liked,' the crowd shouted. 'He should not be allowed to land in Male'. We want you noblemen to run Maldives for us.'

By sunset that day, the cruel regime of Mohamed Ameen was over.

The following Friday, Mohamed Ameen was arrested in Dhoonidhoo. He was treated with dignity and provided with first-class food for every meal. Mabandeyri Ibrahim Manik stayed at his side and twelve other attendants were there. No harm was done to Ameen. Supervising everyone on Dhoonidhoo was Malin Ibrahim Kaleyfan who was closely related to Ameen on both sides of his family. What followed can be found in this journa, and it has all been written in Aafathis.

Information for readers
The senior members of 'those who hold their nation dear' - those men who confronted the need to change Ameen's republic were: Ibrahim Mohamed Didi (Velaanaage Ibrahim Didi), Hussein Habeeb, Buruneege Ibrahim Didi and Ibrahim Zaki (Famudeyrige Tutteedee). The younger members were Mohamed Zaki, Ahmed Zaki, Maajehige Mohamed Didi and Ibrahim Nasir.

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