Plea to free sailors held by pirates for past three years
An expat whose father was freed after being held hostage by pirates for 21 months has appealed to the international community to help the remaining seafarers still in captivity after three years.
Somali pirates seized Captain Jawaid Saleem Khan and his crew on November 26, 2010 in the Gulf of Aden, during a journey on the ship MV Albedo from Jebel Ali to Mombasa. One Indian sailor was shot dead by pirates in 2011 in an effort to pressure the vessel’s Iranian owner to pay the $2.85 million ransom.
In August last year, the captain and eight Pakistani sailors were released after a $1.1 million ransom was raised with the help of wealthy businessmen and fundraising drives. But 11 seamen, from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran, are still being held.
The captain’s daughter, Nareman Jawaid, told delegates at the Countering Maritime Piracy conference in Dubai yesterday: “We are still concerned for the remaining crew members. The governments of their countries haven’t stepped forward.”
She added: “Their families are not in a position to do anything. Governments need to come forward to bring the men back home to their families. It shouldn’t be a question of whether paying a ransom is the right thing to do or not. Whatever it takes, they deserve to come back home.”
Nareman and her sister Mishal called for a body to be set up to support the families of hostage sailors.
“Families shouldn’t be abandoned,” Mishal said, recalling the mental trauma her mother faced. “I would never want any daughter, any son, any wife, any mother to go through this. There has to be an organisation to help seafarers’ families.”
The captain said he feared for the lives of his crewmen as he recalled the torture by the pirates.
“They use to tie our hands and legs and leave us out on the deck in the sun. Or they would leave us in the swimming pool, shivering through the night. “The pirates aren’t going to release them without money, and as time passes things get worse.”