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President Gayoom's address to the country on Saturday 20 September 2003 at 8pm
Haveeru 21 September 2003
also broadcast on Maldives radio and TV
Translated by Maldives Culture editors

I am addressing the people of the country through the TV and the radio, to make a plea due to a very serious matter.

Yes, in connection to Maafushi prison incidents, the situation in Male' has reached a critical state. Many people have come out onto the streets and gathered at different places. They are throwing rocks at various buildings and causing other damage. Because of this, many people are getting hurt. I am the person the people of Maldives have elected to protect their rights, and protect peace and harmony, and maintain peace and order. So I am asking the beloved and faithful people of Maldives, all of you, to calm down and return to your houses and give me the opportunity to discharge my responsibilities. Give me the opportunity to take the necessary steps this matter requires, and to find the offenders and take legal action and punish them.

Yes, if I am to say anything about the incidents that had happened, two very sad incidents have occurred. These two incidents were separate. One incident took place last night (Friday) at the prison. Yes, due to some unrest there, a person died last night. This is something I am very sad about. Later I will give more detail about this incident and what the government intends to do about it.

The second incident also happened at the prison. Yes, locked-up prisoners broke out of their cells and attacked the guards. Eventually they moved towards the armoury and attacked it. This is what they did! So the government was forced to take appropriate action. At first, the guards issued warnings and advice but the men would not move back. The police fired guns into the air, into space, at the sky, but even then they were unable to establish control, so they had to fire guns in such away that bullets would hit people. This is also something I regret very much. I did not want it to happen at all. What I would like to say is that the people who have been hurt in this incident today are now receiving treatment. Among them are four people who doctors believe are in a slightly critical condition. They have been brought to Male' and they will receive treatment from hospital.

At this point I would like to say that with the good grace of Allah, no lives were lost in this incident. And with the divine will of God, the government will supply the treatment all of them require. I wish, and pray to Allah and do 'ibthilaahu' for all those who were hurt, that they may all recover quickly and regain complete good health.

Now I would like to mention last night's (Friday's) incident, when a young Maldivian man died. As I said before, it is something I regret very much. I went to the cemetery to see his face. I met the family and expressed my feelings of deep sorrow and sadness and gave my sincere condolences to all of the family members.

Regarding this matter, I have set up a presidential commission to look into it. The members will be people who are trusted and reputable, and the commission will examine the matter very thoroughly. It will be able to summon anyone required, and question them. They must be answerable. When the commission's investigations are completed, all those found guilty will be harshly dealt with, according to the law. They will be taken to the court according to the laws of Maldives and Islamic sharia, and they will be punished.

Yes, at this point I would like to say that the government's initial investigation has resulted in five people being found involved. They have been dismissed from their police jobs and arrested. They are under investigation.

Yes, this commission is a completely independent. No person in the government can influence it. The commission will report directly to me. Whatever needs to be said to the commission, I will speak to them personally. Therefore, I would like to assure the people of Maldives that the commission will investigate this matter very well. And those people who are accused of involvement in this matter, whether that person is a police officer or anyone holding a position, legal action will be taken against them.

There is one more thing I would like to say. Yes, the government will take all actions required according to the recommendations of the commission, in order to prevent such an incident happening in the future. So, I would like the Maldives people, those people are feeling distressed, and those who are grieving, and all the people, to pay attention to what I am saying and go obediently and calmly to their houses, and give me the opportunity to take the legal action needed to sort this matter out.

Before I finish, I would like to express once again my sincere condolences to the mother, father and other members of the family of the person who died in last night's incident. I assure them that those who are responsible for this, as I said before, will be taken to the court and they will be punished accordingly.

My special plea is to the people to calm down and remain obedient. People have always responded very well to my pleas. I thank the beloved people of Maldives for that. I would like to say that I remain confident that people will respond very well to this plea of mine tonight.

May Allah grant goodness to the Dhivehi nation! May we have the wisdom and good fortune to keep Maldives in peace and order! May Allah provide us the power and the fortune to take action against those who commit crimes amongst us!

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