first, it must be acknowledged that their actions are clearly in breach of international law. the issue, however, is how did this happen? how, in this day and age, is piracy thriving? why does the world seem helpless in terms of how to address this matter, politically and legally? i will not attempt to answer these questions, here...i just want to raise them. in situations like this, it is often easy to gloss over the underlying issues and concentrate on the headlines. mainstream media outlets have relied, as per usual, on sensationalizing or glossing over the facts, choosing to focus on the most recent hostage-taking situation, without delving deeper to examine the history and root causes of this phenomenon.
the UN Special Envoy to Somalia has confirmed that there is indeed 'reliable information' that European and Asian ships have been using the Gulf as a dumping ground, for years, without being held to account. when questioned as to whether this dumping has been officially sanctioned, he maintained that 'no government has endorsed this act, and that private companies and individuals acting alone are responsible.'
even the hip-hop world has gotten involved: people have been chiming in on twitter, particularly after an interview on Shade 45 featuring K'naan, in which he attempted to explain the context of modern-day piracy in Somalia, briefly shedding light on a history of Western ships dumping toxic waste--including nuclear waste--into the Gulf, which has resulted in destruction of the coastline and in the potential poisoning of the people.
the question therefore arises: who are these pirates? are they essentially sea-borne extensions of the warlords, terrorizing the seas purely for financial gain or are they freedom fighters, forced to take desperate measures to defend the territorial integrity of a country the rest of the world has given up on?
regardless of my personal opinion on the matter, i've chosen to focus on offering context because that is what is often missing in cases like this. i think the majority of the information that is being widely circulated is simply not telling the full story. i decided, therefore, to offer a glimpse of this debate, from various points of view, from both Somalis and non-Somalis.
background information on the topic, including analysis can be found in Johann Hari's 'You're Being Lied to About Pirates and in Daniele Archibugi and Marina Chiarugi's excellent analysis, 'Piracy Challenges Global Governance'.
and below are various opinions on the issue:
excerpt from K'naan interview with HardKnock TV
ongoing debate between friends and colleagues on facebook: