From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Nov 09 2009 - 06:54:08 EST
Who are the Real Pirates in Somalia?
Montag, 9. November 2009 12:46:27
Sociologist Peter Berger has instructed that "The first wisdom of Sociology
is that things are not what they seem." So it is with the Western media
rendition of their piracy stories from Somalia. An article in the
London-based Independent newspaper has confirmed the suspicions of many that
behind the Western media hysteria over on Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean
and Western governments´ war on "modern day piracy" lurks a sinister plot:
the theft of the war-torn country´s sea food and the dumping of nuclear
waste in its seas by some European countries.
No, this is not one of the legions of conspiracy theories concocted on a
daily basis around the globe.
According to the Independent´s, article Western governments are cynically
exploiting the chaos in Somalia to the Independent, "the ugliest forces in
the Western world have seen" the collapse of the Somali government in 1991
when the Siad Barre government was ousted in a military coup, "as a great
opportunity to steal the country´s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in
"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, and more than 300 died," the article notes.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia has charged European
hospitals for dumping all manner of waste in Somali waters. He said much of
the waste could be traced back to European hospitals and factories, which
"seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply.
And as if that was not enough, other European ships are looting Somalia´s
seas of their greatest resource: seafood. After depleting their own fish
stocks by overfishing, Europeans are now engaged in a feeding frenzy on
Somali seafood as their trawlers haul tons of Somali seafood with sickening
license and impunity. The Independent reports that more than $300m-worth of
tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers,
leaving local fishermen starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town
of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, reportedly told Reuters: "If nothing is
done, there soon won´t be much fish left in our coastal waters."
The Independent article explains that this is the context in which the
Somali "pirates" have emerged. Somali fishermen—Volunteer Coastguards— took
speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers. And ordinary Somalis
agree. The independent Somali news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent
"strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".
While the article condemns what it termed "unjustifiable host-stage-taking"
by some Somali "gangsters," including those who have held up World Food
Programme supplies, it characterized "pirate activities as self-defense,"
quoting one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don´t consider ourselves
sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and
dump in our seas."
Concluding the article declared: "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 summarized 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?"
This is eerily so familiar! The Democratic Republic of Congo was plunged
into fratricidal war by Western governments as they armed factions in the
country´s civil war. And while the war lasts, killing five million and
counting, Western mining companies looted the countries valuable
minerals—coltan, diamonds, and many more.
And all this so tragic! Tragic because those same nations who pontificate
and lecture to others about social justice human rights and democratic
values and many times have imposed those values on others through the barrel
of the gun, are the same nations who are actively starving and killing
innocent Somalis and endangering the lives future generations of their
offspring by polluting their waters with nuclear waste. Even more tragic is
the silence and inaction of the African Union. Things are what they seem
(*) Dr. Charles Quist-Adade PhD is a Sociology professor at Kwantlen
Polytechnic University. He specializes in race and ethnic relations,
globalization, and social justice.
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