Surfers in the Maldives sent to jail for surfing
Words by Jake Howard The president of the Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) was jailed yesterday in an attempt to acquire documents and information related to the construction of a bridge that’s bound to destroy Malé’s most vital surf area. At this time details remain murky, but in recent months Ahmed “AJ” Aznil has found himself […]
Words by Jake Howard
The president of the Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) was jailed yesterday in an attempt to acquire documents and information related to the construction of a bridge that’s bound to destroy Malé’s most vital surf area.
At this time details remain murky, but in recent months Ahmed “AJ” Aznil has found himself in the unenviable position of being the conduit between the local surf community on Malé and a powerful alliance between the Maldivian and Chinese govs. After assertions by governmental officials were made that the waves at Raalhugandu would not be effected by construction of a new bridge, the MSA sought verifiable proof, which after multiple meetings has yet to come to light.
“The surfers of Raalhugandu have met the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure three times since December last year, expressing their concerns about the future of Raalhugandu,” reads a recent post on the MSA Facebook page. “The ministry claims they have documents of experiments conducted to determine the effects on the surf and surfing at Raalhugandu, and that they will provide these documents to MSA. Construction work of the bridge has started, yet the ministry has still not provided these documents.”
The MSA has consistently said they’re not trying to stop construction of the bridge, rather are pursuing a more sustainable option.
Yago Dora, stalefish and jazz fingers in the Maldives.
Aznil was detained and held on the island of Dhoonidhoo (which has a nasty reputation as a prison island). Two other surfers were also detained after attempting to surf at Raalhugandu yesterday afternoon. All have now been released and reportedly no charges have been filed at this time.
Ironically, the controversial project is known as the Maldives-Chinese Friendship Bridge. It will connect Malé’s eastern edge to the western corner of the island of Hulhulé, where the airport is located. Based on current plans, the bridge will be built over the breaks at Raalhugandhu and Rats, the main hub for the resident surfing community in Malé. The bridge is part of a 210 million dollar endeavor financed by the Chinese government.
For his part in it all, Aznil is one of the most valuable resources the Maldivian surfing community has. Intelligent, articulate and impassioned, his unsung dedication to his home and his people is worth noting. He’s as dedicated a warrior as more notable guys like Ramon Navarro and Dustin Barca, who’ve both had to fight to protect their respective backyards.
The Maldives currently faces some very serious threats from both development and the environment. Holding the distinction of having the lowest elevation of any country in the world, the island nation is already making plans to relocate large swaths of the population in coming years. All the while Aznil and his MSA comrades are doing everything they can to preserve a magical corner of the Indian Ocean.
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