Aamer’s unedited version of column for Scottish Sun on Sunday on 3rd November 2013
THE REAL STORY OF SOMALI PIRATES
I went to watch a great blockbuster last week ‘Captain Phillips’. Billed as a heroic story of one man’s struggle as his ship is taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009.
At one point the Captain told the Pirates of how his hijacked cargo was carrying food for ‘starving people in Africa’ whilst Somalia was portrayed as ‘hellhole’ with no explanation of why.
When Somalia was brought to its knees by a bloody civil war in 1991, sharks moved into its waters very quickly as Western ships queued up to illegally plunder Somalia’s great resource of sea food, whilst others decided there was nobody to stop them dumping toxic waste in Somalia’s waters.
These ‘reputable’ international companies (who cannot be named for legal reasons) calculated that in a country where millions already faced death, no one would care to ask why a few more were dying.
A global community which took the higher moral ground on piracy has said nothing about the destruction of a fishing community which had been proudly self -sufficient for thousands of years.
After the Tsunami in 2004 washed up rusting barrels along 3000 miles of beaches leaking tonnes of radioactive waste and toxic chemicals the ‘global community’ still said nothing.
Overnight people became ill suffering from abdominal haemorrhages and nausea, children were born malformed and cancer and leukaemia appeared at epidemic rates.
The UN said that it only costs £1.70 a tonne to dump waste in Somalia, whereas in Europe it would cost £670 a tonne.
The financial returns are 100 times greater than if the ships had been carrying heroin, but the impact is worse with Somalia now tagged as one of the world’s largest toxic dumps and its eco-systems irreversibly poisoned.
At first angry fishermen with their livelihoods destroyed, took to the seas as vigilantes ‘to exact a tax’ from the trawlers and dumpers.
Scoffing our lobsters and tuna, illegally fished in the waters of Somalia it’s easy enough to say there is no excuse for ‘Piracy’, but just imagine what you would do if you had to watch your children die whilst foreigners dumped their industrial waste on your doorstep, poisoning your food chain and water, and unemployment stood at 90%.
When you had nothing left what would you do to survive? Meanwhile politicians ask us to resent the tiny numbers who make it to our shores desperate for a better life.
The Somalis did try complaining to the UN in 2006 but it didn’t do them much good, the Navies of the World now patrol the Horn of Africa regularly sinking the boats of ‘suspect’ Somali fishermen, but have never boarded, stopped, let alone sink illegal trawlers and toxic dumpers.
As shown in the film, the vigilantes were soon taken over by gangsters and corrupt politicians wanting to line their pockets with a multi-million pound piracy industry.
In some instances the right to dump was traded for guns, just like Sierra Leone’s trade in ‘blood diamonds’.
Of course piracy can never be a solution but neither is old fashioned gunboat diplomacy dressed up as an ‘anti-piracy mission’.
The European Union claims it is all about ensuring the passage of ‘food aid or emergency relief’, but it’s more about securing the ‘supply of goods and oil to the West’.
When the UN Security Council passed a resolution on Somalia, an Ambassador for the European Union was asked what they would do about Toxic Dumping- the response was “I have no comment on the issue.”
Their silence tells us the real story that ‘Captain Phillips’ never did, but then Hollywood has never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
LADY GAGA GOES GAGA
The old adage goes that any hype is good hype, so it was for Lady Gaga as she burst forth on X Factor.
I was disappointed to see that Lady Gaga wasn’t singing out of a decapitated corpse like Halloween last year but instead jumping about in granny sized knickers and flesh coloured tights singing – ‘Do what you want with my body?’
At first I actually thought it was some nutter on a second rate audition of ‘Britain’s got no talent’ rather than some international superstar, yet over 200 complained to a TV watchdog that it was before the watershed.
Seriously the real crime isn’t seeing Lady Gaga go Gaga, but subjecting your children to X Factor. As for Gaga she got the kind of publicity you couldn’t buy.
For Halloween my son picked a gruesome life size image of a glowing zombie in a suit carrying a chopped off head to hang in the window.
Ultimately my 2 year old calling the Zombie ‘Daddy’ combined with Mrs A being too scared to go down to the kitchen at night sadly forced its removal!