Are we fighting Somalian ‘pirates’ or volunteers trying to stop international toxic dumping? *
Wise Up Journal
By Gabriel O’Hara
The European Union launched its first-ever naval operation to fight the pirates off the coast of Somalia. NATO’s top commander General John Craddock recommended expanding the war on piracy to land, “you don’t stop piracy on the seas. You stop piracy on the land,” he said. Who are the people this laughable “powerful” pirate myth is about, that requires the overwhelming force of the European Union and NATO to fight it? Let’s look at some rare bits of main stream news in between the news we hear about the pirate myth so we can realise what situation these pirate people of Somalia are in and exactly what our militaries are fighting for.
By Johann Hari
You are being lied to about pirates
Some are clearly just gangsters. But others are trying to stop illegal dumping and trawling
Who imagined that in 2009, the world’s governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labelling as “one of the great menaces of our times” have an extraordinary story to tell – and some justice on their side.
In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.
Tsunami waves could have spread illegally dumped nuclear waste and other toxic waste on Somalia’s coast, a United Nations spokesman has said.
international companies have been taken advantage of the fact that Somalia had no functioning government from the early 1990s until recently.
THE huge waves which battered northern Somalia after the tsunami in December are believed to have stirred up tonnes of nuclear and toxic waste illegally dumped in the war-racked country during the early 1990s.
Apart from killing about 300 people and destroying thousands of homes, the waves broke up rusting barrels and other containers and hazardous waste dumped along the long, remote shoreline, a spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) said.
“Initial reports indicate that the tsunami waves broke open containers full of toxic waste and scattered the contents. We are talking about everything from medical waste to chemical waste products,” Nick Nuttal, the Unep spokesman, told The Times.
“We know this material is on the land and is now being blown around and possibly carried to villages. What we do not know is the full extent of the problem.”
reported that several Somalis in the northern areas were ill with diseases consistent with radiation sickness.
An initial UN report says that many people in the areas around the northeastern towns of Hobbio and Benadir, on the Indian Ocean coast, are suffering from far higher than normal cases of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages and unusual skin infections.
Most of the waste was simply dumped on remote beaches in containers and leaking disposable barrels.
Somali sources close to the trade say that the dumped materials included radioactive uranium, lead, cadmium, mercury and industrial, hospital, chemical and various other toxic wastes.
n 1997 and 1998, the Italian newspaper Famiglia Cristiana, which jointly investigated the allegations with the Italian branch of Greenpeace, published a series of articles detailing the extent of illegal dumping by a Swiss firm, Achair Partners, and an Italian waste broker, Progresso.
By Johann Hari
The words of one pirate from that lost age, a young British man called William Scott, should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: “What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirateing to live.”
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to “dispose” of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: “Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention.”
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. [Somalia has a massive coastline that would stretch from Portugal to Belgium, one part can be radioactive and the other pristine.] More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.”
This is the context in which the “pirates” have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a “tax” on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent “strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence”.
No, this doesn’t make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish and dump in our seas.”
Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won’t act on those crimes – the only sane solution to this problem – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world’s oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.
The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know “what he meant by keeping possession of the sea.” The pirate smiled, and responded: “What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor.” Once again, our great imperial fleets sail – but who is the robber?
AFP / Google News
EU launches first navy mission, in pirate-infested seas
BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union is set to launch its first-ever naval operation on Monday, with six warships and three surveillance planes patrolling pirate infested seas in the Horn of Africa.
The EU vessels face the daunting task of covering an area of around one million square kilometres, in waters that have seen nearly 100 ships attacked by pirates this year.
With a headquarters in Northwood near London, the fleet will initially be led off the coast of Somalia by Greek Admiral Antonios Popaioannou, with a Spaniard and then a Dutch officer taking over after three month terms.
“We have responsibility there to escort, and to deter, and to protect, and those things are going to be done with very robust rules of engagement,” EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Wednesday, at NATO headquarters.
Those rules of engagement will be endorsed by EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels Monday.
Another problem is the legal puzzle that arises once pirates are captured.
critics saying the only way to beat piracy is to start the battle on land, in lawless Somalia.
“The pirates are not fish who just sprang up out of the sea,” he said [Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin]. “They came out of Somalia. It is far-fetched to try to clamp down on piracy without first having put the situation in mainland Somalia under control.”
“You don’t stop piracy on the seas. You stop piracy on the land,” NATO’s top commander General John Craddock said last week.
The Somalian people are not deluded with the worldwide notion of “if we can let the west know what is happening they will help us” since they are being poisoned by western nations and western militaries are stopping them from protecting their children’s lives. They no longer have a Hollywood view of developed civilisation like the western public and other developing nations imagine.