Today, 10. November 2010, 23h00 UTC, at least 29 foreign vessels plus one barge are kept in Somali hands against the will of their owners, while at least 510 hostages or captives - including an elderly British yachting couple, the 5 hostages from Somaliland and a woman and man from a yacht - suffer to be released.
The world and the navies don't get it: Do they not realize that long after Somalia was neglected and only after the navies appeared and interfered at the Horn of Africa the real piracy developed and surged ? Now the situation has reached a new all-time high: Over 500 people held captive. The world holds Somalia hostage and the Somali pirates the world. This vicious circle of aggressive action and the senseless spiral of violence must be broken by peaceful means.
One of the most dangerous ideas (excerpt by Zoltán Grossman)
One of the most dangerous ideas of the 20th century was that "people like us" could not commit atrocities against civilians.
- German and Japanese citizens believed it, but their militaries slaughtered millions of people.
- British and French citizens believed it, but their militaries fought brutal colonial wars in Africa and Asia.
- Russian citizens believed it, but their armies murdered civilians in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere.
- Israeli citizens believed it, but their army mowed down Palestinians and Lebanese.
- Arabs believed it, but suicide bombers and hijackers targeted U.S. and Israeli civilians.
- U.S. citizens believed it, but their military killed hundreds of thousands in Vietnam, Iraq, and elsewhere.
WHAT NAVIES NEVER SEE:
STILL OPEN QUESTIONS ON LATEST YACHT ABDUCTION IN SOMALIA
South-African owned SY CHOIZIL was sea-jacked 31. October 2010 after having left Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Though news had broken much earlier, the case was officially only confirmed on 08. November, whereby the name of the yacht was still either not known or withheld. It is now clear that the yacht is the one-mast sailing yacht SY CHOIZIL, named after the Ile de Choizil an island near still French Mayotte, owned and sailed by South African skipper Peter Eldridge from Richards Bay, who escaped after the yacht was commandeered to Somalia, while his South African team-mates Bruno Pelizzari with partner Deborah were taken off the boat and are still held hostage on land in Southern Somalia.
Questions are still open concerning a possible fourth person on board or a second yacht, because reports still speak of a man having been killed in Baraawa (Brawa).
Pirates, several residents and al-Shabaab members, who also control Baraawe, had told Reuters on 07. November that a hostage had been shot dead, but that maybe referred to the skipper, who had disappeared from local peoples's view and was picked up by the navies. He either jumped overboard in the naval swoop or - compared with other hostage cases in Somalia more unlikely - was allowed to stay back on the yacht when the hostage takers left the boat with the couple.
While the South African International Relations and Cooperation Department had confirmed that no South African man was killed in the incident, the Spokesman for the department, Saul Molobi, would only say the man killed was not South African.
Per Klingvall, spokesman for EU NAVFOR, however, said the anti-piracy task force had no information about anyone being killed, and that the rescued yachtsman had not been shot.
In the case of the sea-jacked, allegedly drug-smuggling yacht SY SERENITY,which was then even used in a string af attacks on first Thai fishing vessels and then the U.S. American container vessel MAERSK ALABAMA, the existence of a fourth man on board and his identity were withheld by the authorities for still unknown reasons. His presence was only officially acknowledged after the Seychelles staged a release operation with the exchange of Somali prisoners and a ransom payment, which in itself hit several snags, because it was - according to security sources - executed in a totally unprofessional way.
In addition there were in the beginning of the ordeal reports by news-wires not only of a man being shot but also that a woman and a boy had been taken hostage, which confused the picture.
Pelizzari’s family members and government authorities say Pelizzari, a South African of Italian origin, is described as being a small man, so it could have been assumed that a teenager was kidnapped. His girlfriend Deborah is said to be South-African of British decent.
Disputed Location of Attack
Early pieces of information originating from the Seychelles through the Seafarer's networks indicated that a sailing yacht with three persons had possibly been abducted either from the Seychelles, Kenya or off Baraawa (Brawa) in Somalia.
However, a press release from the Office of the Seychelles Minister for Home Affairs, Environment and Transport, Minister Joel Morgan, stated on 09. November that the Seychelles Coast Guard and the EU NAVFOR Atalanta representative in Seychelles have confirmed that the yacht was not taken hostage in Seychelles waters, but that the incident took place in Kenyan waters. Likewise the International Relations Department officials in Pretoria and European Union authorities have also said the yacht was captured by pirates off the coast of Kenya.
But South African yachtsman, Peter Olivier, who is from Cape Town while he now lives in the Tanzanian capital of Dar-es-Salaam, still cannot understand why his friends are said to have been attacked further north and off Kenya and not on their way south from Dar es Salaam, since they had planned to sail south to dock the yacht in Richards Bay in South Africa. He himself would nearly have been on that yacht, but had to pull out of the sailing trip with the three fellow South Africans due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Olivier said: “I am not going to say I am relieved it wasn’t me. Instead, I feel really sorry for Bruno and Deborah."
Also Barry Turner, commodore at the Bluff Yacht Club in South Africa, where the couple from Cape Town were members, said the two were at the moment assisting another yachtsman in bringing a vessel back to Richard’s Bay in South Africa.
Though the skipper refused to speak to the media it is believed that he had been debriefed by the navies and other officials, who released their statements with naming Kenyan waters as the location where the attack had allegedly taken place. However, why the yacht, which was supposed to sail from Dar es Salaam south to South Africa should have gone North to Kenya and then allegedly encountered the pirates there, was not explained by any of the official statements nor the owner.
Other naval sources, however, still maintain that the attack took place on the open sea at the boundary between Tanzania and Mozambique.
Both present hostages, Bruno Pelizzari and his girlfriend "Debbie", were on board when the yacht under the command of Peter Endrigde headed back to Richards Bay from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on October 21 or 22. Together with the skipper and owner of the yacht, the trio are said to have then encountered the pirates on 31. October 2010 in the open sea.
At least one of the attacking pirates appeared to have been from Tanzania and spoke KiSwahili. However, the sloop rigged sailing yacht set up for long distance cruising was then commandeered to Somalia by five Somalis - apparently with the aim to reach Harardheere at the Central Somali coast.
When observers had on 04. November a sighting of a yacht near the Bajuni Island of Koyaama at the Southern coast of Somalia, the search for a missing yacht was on in order to identify the boat and the sailors, but neither the Seychelles nor the network of yachts-people reported any missing yacht, though at that point already even the involvement of a second yacht could not be ruled out - according to an observer from ECOTERRA Intl.
Navies were then trailing the yacht at least since 04. November.
Navies get active
The fleeing yacht was forced by the pursuing navies to come close to Baraawa (Brawa). There the yacht had "officially" again been located by the EU NAVFOR warship FS FLOREAL on 6 November when it was "discovered to be sailing suspiciously close to shore", so the statement. Despite numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact the yacht, including a flypast by the warship’s helicopter, allegedly no answer was received and the French warship launched her boarding team to investigate further, a EU NAVFOR statement revealed and it was also officially stated that they had received a mayday signal. Why only then and not much earlier has so far not been explained.
After a direct chase by naval forces escalating the situation and the yacht running aground, SY CHOIZIL's skipper Peter reportedly jumped over board during a close naval swoop, when also shots were fired and a naval helicopter and a commando team in a speedboat were engaged. Other reports state the owner of the yacht, Peter Eldridge, managed to escape when he refused to leave the boat he built with his own hands 20 years ago. “I can understand why Peter, after all that hard work on his boat, would say: ‘No way are you taking my boat and I’m not getting off’,” said Jannie Smit, a friend. It is however highly unlikely that the hostage takers would have allowed him to just stay behind.
Peter Eldridge was later picked up by the navy and was placed into safety on a Dutch naval vessel. He is confirmed to be a South-African by nationality and his next of kin were informed immediately. After he then arrived at the Kenyan harbour of Mombasa on board the Dutch warship, he was handed over to South African officials and brought to Kenya's capital Nairobi on Monday, from where he returned already to South-Africa.
South Africa's High Commissioner to Kenya, Ndumiso Ntshinga, said he had been in contact with the rescued yachtsman on Monday and confirmed the two captives, a man and a woman, were both also South African citizens.
Barry Turner said the two, who are now the hostages, had set off for Madagascar a year ago.
Bruno Pelizzari, in his 50s, worked earlier for a company that serviced lifts. He started sailing 5 or 6 years ago and according to a friend, they left Durban on a yacht about a year ago to explore the open seas and look for work. The couple met Peter Eldridge, an engineer, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, who wanted to.sail his yacht from Dar es Salaam for KwaZulu-Natal, because the yacht was in need of repairs. Fellow yachtsman Peter Olivier stated: "They are such nice people and they love sailing. Peter is a great guy and is experienced. Bruno is a quiet man but really nice. They are good people."
Pelizzari’s family said on Monday that the two were still captive in Somalia and International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane confirmed officially that the two South Africans were abducted.
The family, according to a South African news agency, is frustrated at not being able to get detailed information on Pelizzari’s welfare, and is deeply concerned for his safety.
Vera Pelizzari, Bruno’s sister, was worried about information being stifled and her brother’s plight then not being properly attended to and added: “We simply do not have the money to pay for ransom.”
Neither Pelizzari nor Debbie’s family have money for a ransom, a friend said on Tuesday.
Fate of the Yacht
Andrew Mwangura, co-ordinator of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, said earlier he assumed the yacht had been towed to Mombasa, but latest information ECOTERRA Intl. received from Somalia say the yacht was left behind by the naval forces. Peter Eldridge's wife, Bernadette, told then the South African Times that she did not know whether her husband Peter would return to Somalia to retrieve what's left of his yacht, SY Choizil, which was run aground by the pirates.
The German skipper Juergen Kantner, who had been sea-jacked together with partner Sabine on SY ROCKALL in the Gulf of Aden and who was later released from the mountainous hide-out of the hostage takers in Puntland after a ransom was paid, returned to where his yacht had been taken, repaired his boat and only home in the Somaliland harbour of Berbera and - though they had to encounter some further bad luck when a mobile-phone mast fell during a storm onto the yacht just the day before the planned departure - later sailed against all odds off via Aden in Yemen to continue the planned dream-voyage to Malaysia, where they arrived safely.
"We only can hope that the different reports speaking of the killing of one man, whereby at present nobody can say if that had been caused by the naval interaction or by the pirates or if it is mixed with another case, will turn out to be not correct at all," said a spokesman from ECOTERRA Intl. on 07. November, adding: "and we hope and urge the local elders to ensure that the innocent woman and man will be set free immediately."
Since the Al-Shabaab administration, who governs the vast areas in Southern Somalia, where the ancient coastal town of Baraawe (Brawa) is located, had earlier openly condemned any act of piracy, it is hoped that a safe and unconditional release of the hostages can be achieved.
With several reports from Somalia and other sources, saying the skipper of the South-African sailing yacht jumped over board and was picked up by naval forces, while 2 people were confirmed by EU NAVFOR as having been abducted, and local sources still insist that one person had been killed, it however could be possible that another person was on board earlier and was killed in the ensuing havoc or a case concerning a second yacht must be investigated.
Naval sources, however, say that Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah “walked” off with the pirates from the grounded yacht, and at that stage at least they appeared to have been unharmed.
The naval command of the European Operation Atalanta stated on Tuesday that the whereabouts of the other two crew members is currently unknown, despite a comprehensive search by an EU NAVFOR helicopter.
Karl Otto of the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Cape Town said Monday to IOL that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation was handling the hostage situation.
“They’ve got a couple of people who may be negotiating. We’ve been told to pass on any information to them,” Otto said.
Unfortunately, Bruno Pelizzari and his partner Deborah are reportedly at present still held hostage south of Baraawa (Brawa) and no ransom demands have been made. International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Saul Kgomotso Molobi confirmed Wednesday the pirates had not yet made any ransom demand.
The families of the Durban couple are sick with worry while they wait to hear from the kidnappers.
In a sad and tragic precedent at the beginning of April 2009, the skipper of French yacht SY TANIT, Cpt. Florent Lemacon, was admittedly but apparently accidentally killed by French troopers in an ill-advised and blotched rescue attempt off the peninsula of Hafun on the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia. His wife and 3-year old son survived. The investigations and court procedures on this case have not been concluded, since the actions of the French naval forces have been shrouded in secrecy.
Thereafter in October 2008, the yacht SY LYNN RIVAL was abducted in the Indian Ocean. This is the boat from which the British sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler were captured on their trip from the Seychelles to Tanzania. Though the elderly couple survived also their transfer to first another ship, whereby the British Royal navy was watching - but had to hold back from any action for obvious reasons - and then to land, the two are now held since over a year hostage, while the case has been neglected and is surrounded by deals gone sour. While most serious media seem to have been muzzled on this case, a recent article in the British gutter-press, which also gave a false record of the events, demonstrated only once more the neglect which characterizes the fate of these British citizens since they were taken hostage by an unscrupulous gang.