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Somali Freedom Fighters

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

Somali Pirate Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas."

The quote above is from an article by John Hari in a British paper, The Independent. It is a popular quote that has been used by many other media as well, as a simple search will reveal.

The whole article can be found at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-har...

That's not the kind of commentary you are going to find in any of the mainstream Canadian Media. As the HMCS Fredericton left the shores of Halifax on Sunday, (October 25th) for their anti-Piracy mission to the surrounding waters off the coast of Somalia, the CBC news piece that covered the story had absolutely no commentary whatsoever from Somali people. Not one critical voice at all for that matter. Other than speaking about the commitment of soldiers and covering comments from the soldiers' commanders, the CBC piece had only this to sum up the voices of other commentators: 

"Analysts blame Somalia's nearly 20 years of lawlessness for fuelling piracy's rise off its coast."

 

Who are these analysts and what knowledge base are they working from?

But CBC is not alone. Other mainstream Canadian media also repeated the same drone about protecting the sea from terrorism and safeguarding freedom and democracy. Here are another example:

Halifax Chronicle Herald (Oct. 26):

"Canada’s latest contribution to the war on terrorism and piracy slipped out of Halifax Harbour in driving rain Sunday on a six-month deployment to the Middle East (...) ' This illicit activity puts pressure on the freedom of the sea which is so important to democratic countries like Canada because 90 per cent of the global economy floats' (Rear Admiral Paul Maddison)"

Other Canadian media roll along with the same or very similar discourse. Just try and find any coverage of the voices of Somali people, let alone the voices of any pirates or pirate supporters. There is a word for such total exclusion and demonizing entire peoples. It's racism, plain and simple.

Venturing into the media waters that the Canadian mainstream dare not travel, one finds stories that emphasize the point that the Somali people have been, and continually are, being dealt racist blows by rich countries. It is not surprizing that it remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

There are two main attacks that have been waged on the Somali people that are inexticably linked to the rise of so-called piracy, both touched on by Somali Freedom fighter (pirate), Sugule Ali, above.

One is waste dumping, a blatant act of environmental racism in this case.

Following the massive tsunami of December 2004, there have emerged allegations that after the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in the late 1980s, Somalia's long, remote shoreline was used as a dump site for the disposal of toxic waste. The huge waves which battered northern Somalia after the tsunami are believed to have stirred up tonnes of nuclear and toxic waste that was illegally dumped in Somali waters by several European firms. The European Green Party followed up these revelations by presenting before the press and the European Parliament in Strasbourg copies of contracts signed by two European companies—the Italian Swiss firm, Achair Partners, and an Italian waste broker, Progresso—and representatives of the warlords then in power, to accept 10 million tonnes of toxic waste in exchange for $80 million (then about £60 million). According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) assessment mission, there are far higher than normal cases of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages and unusual skin infections among many inhabitants of the areas around the northeastern towns of Hobbio and Benadir on the Indian Ocean coast—diseases consistent with radiation sickness.

 

The other attack is the piracy by European commercial fishing trawlers, who have raided the Somali seas with no compensation to the Somali fishers. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving.

As John Hari wrote in his article for the Independent:

"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.'"

So, as the ongoing celebration of the HMCS Fredericton rolls out; as we hear more about the importance of safeguarding freedom on the seas and upholding Canadian democracy, I ask:

Where are the Somali voices?  

What are the roots of Somalia's poverty?

How much was pillaged during colonial times and what were the effects?

Where are the reparations for the waste dumping and illegal fishing?

What were the effects on the Somali people of the Proxy war between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. during the Cold War?

Who drew up the borders of Somalia?

ARE THEY PIRATES OR FREEDOM FIGHTERS?


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