Patriots or Pirates
By Cireal Americanus
When is a “Pirate” not a Pirate? When, as in the case of a modern day Robin Hood, it all comes down to who is defining the term. Those Countries, Businesses, Industries and Governments that have been financially impacted by the exploits of the “Somalian Pirates” have termed these individuals as “Pirates”, “Bandits of the High Sea”, and “Terrorists”. To the people of Somalia, those who have been afflicted with radioactive poisoning from the illegal dumping of nuclear waste in the waters off the Somali coast and the illegal harvesting of high value Aquatic life, i.e. Tuna, Lobster, Shrimp, etc., that devastates their fishing industry and destroys a critical food and revenue source, these same individuals, often teenage boys as young as 15, are Patriots.
As a result of the 1991 collapse of the Somali Government and Economic infrastructure, Somalia’s Oceans, Land and People have fallen prey to corrupt Governments, Companies, and Industries that have exploited the country’s misfortune for their own profit and gain. In the absence of a strong Naval force to defend the countries coastal waters, various European Countries, Businesses, and industries, i.e. Hospitals, Nuclear Power Plants, etc., have been dumping hazardous Bio, Chemical, and Nuclear waste in the waters off the coast of Somalia. This practice has manifested itself in the local communities of Somalia in the form of ailments such as nausea, severe skin irritations, birth defects, and in the most extreme cases, death.
In addition to illegal dumping, both European and Asian countries have been harvesting millions of pounds of Seafood from Somalia’s world renown catching areas (Note – although dumping and harvesting occur in the same waters, dumping sites and harvesting sites are often hundreds to thousands of kilometers apart. The difference is equivalent to dumping in New York and Harvesting in California) (see fig. 1). This unregulated harvesting has not only resulted in the loss of Hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the country each year but has also resulted in the devastation of the countries fishing industry through the practice of over harvesting. (Note – Over harvesting occurs when a fishing area’s marine life is taken down to levels that won’t support the rate of depletion vs. the rate of reproduction. This practice has ecological repercussions that could take a human generation or more to recover.)
With Multiple requests to Heads of State, i.e. Governments, and the United Nations for assistance to stop these illegal activities ignored, the Somalian Fisherman and other locals began to take matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, it is the retaliatory actions of the fishermen vs. the illegal practices and behavior of various corrupt Countries, Governments, and businesses that have gotten worldwide attention. Couple this Worldwide attention with the absence of a strong Central Government, a strong Economic system, a strong Military/Naval force and a strong voice on the World Stage, and these illegal activities seem to have no immediate end in sight.
Until such time as the people of Somalia are able to rebuild the country’s infrastructure (a strong Central Government, Military and Economy) the mainstream Media and thereby most of the World will continue to focus on the “effect” and ignore the “cause”, thus continuing to define these Patriots with the labeling given by much of the World, “Pirates”.
In words of a Somalian: