Somalian Pirates: The Flip Side — Part II


The first trial of Somali pirates were held in Holland, in May 2010. The pirates were sentence to five years in prison. An Italian court sentenced Somali pirates to 16 years and many cases are continuing still around Europe. A Yemeni court in 2010 sentenced six Somali pirates to death, In January 2011, 15 pirates were arrested by Indian coast guard and the Mumbai police registered a case against the pirates for attempt to murder and various other provisions. Recently, an US court two Somalians were sentenced to life, without parole for killing four Americans aboard a yacht. However, none of the enablers were incarcerated. In early November 2010, the pirates received a record ransom — $10 million – which was divided among the dozen young men — $150,000 each. But, it is said that most of the money goes to back to insurgents or bosses, since the pirates have already taken money for expenses. Pirate bosses have also collaborated with certain Islamic insurgent groups. So, the money goes to build mini-armies – not to buy food for their countrymen.

From 2005 to 2012, the Somalian pirates flourished. In that period, they have received a ransom of $385 million and have killed 97 men belonging to various nationalities. It is said that the pirates have cost the world economy, $18 billion. These are all reliable facts. But, if you explore the truth behind these facts, you can uncover the stories of jobless fishermen, leading foodless lives.

A Somali fisherman carries a shark on his shoulders to take to the market.

A Somali fisherman carrying a shark on his shoulders to the  fish market.

The fishing business in Somali was held in small-scale. The fishermen lacked the advanced boats and technologies. The first pirate gangs were not recruited men, but Somali fishermen, who tried to dissuade the foreign trawlers. They called themselves as the Volunteer Coast of Guard of Somalia. In some cases, they waged a tax on interlopers. The bandits traveled from Southeast Asian countries and European Union without licenses to have the most prized catches of Somalian waters – tuna, shrimp, sardines, sharks and lobsters. The foreign fishermen have also resorted to dynamite and other extreme measures to pull in large load of catches. In those early days, trawlers without licenses paid a quick ransom amount to small pirate gangs, which later allowed the pirates to build up huge tactical networks.

In the 1990’s, Somalis suffered from skin rashes, gum bleeding, hair falling and diarrhea. The reason for most of the deaths in Somalia is malnourishment. So, naturally the same reason was ascertained to these symptoms. However, it all became clear after the great Indonesian earthquake and ruthless Tsunami (Dec. 26, 2004) that killed millions of people.


At the start of the civil war, companies paid Somali militia leaders to dump toxic wastes. Later, they didn’t even ask anybody to dump the wastes. In the 1992, ‘Basel Convention’ European Union and 168 other countries signed an agreement regarding control of hazardous wastes and disposal. The agreement prohibited dumping of hazardous wastes even in a war zone. Nonetheless, the agreement when Somali became the dumping ground and UN, as usual, turned a blind eye. In the mid-90’s a Swiss and Italian firm offered a quick way to dispose toxic wastes. The European nations and the firms worked out a plan to build giant incinerators to neutralize the poisons. The method was supposed to eco-friendly, although, none of the European nations bothered much to check what happened to their toxic wastes. The ships with wastes sailed away to be dumped into shoals near Somalia.

The dumping grounds accusation was only seen as alleged one, but when the Tsunami pushed ocean waters up the Somali coast, ghosts showed up its face. The coastal people found broken cylindrical shaped containers on their shoreline. If the cylinders were not broken, the impoverished people scavenged the contents by opening them. Soon, metals, plastics and glasses littered the beaches of Somalia. After a few weeks 300 people died and hundreds were sick.

Rusting barrels of nuclear waste dumped by UK

Rusting barrels of nuclear waste dumped by UK

To dispose a ton of toxic waste, it can cost around $250. But, when a firm says that we will dispose a ton for $25 dollars or even less, all these developed countries never bother to ask about the methods of disposition. As I said, it is true that Somali pirates have caused hundreds of lives and billions of dollars, but what do the nuclear power frenzied, developed countries expect? For the famishing Somalians to stand in their coastlines and gaze at the dumped nuclear wastes and looted lobsters, which were eaten by sophisticated people in the posh restaurants of London and Paris.

One man’s revolutionary is another one’s terrorist. Similarly, the international community’s pirates are Somalia’s form of national defense. In the future, some other crime spree would spread from Somalia or in other African country. The corporate media will surely report it, but be sure to know the truth and plunders behind those headlines.

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