Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Video of what it's like to be held hostage by Somali pirates

The British media outlet Channel 4 has posted some footage shot by a crewman from the Ukrainian freighter MV Faina - the vessel that was hijacked late last September by a large group of Somali pirates. (You probably remember the incident because the Faina was carrying T-72 battle tanks and other weapons and munitions at the time of the hijacking.) The footage was shot using the mariner's mobile phone and gives some brief glimpses into the crew's situation while being held hostage, mostly the sheer boredom and cramped conditions they endured.

There's not a lot of footage to be seen, and the scenes may seem undramatic given the circumstances, but keep in mind the crew was trying to maintain their spirits while spending over four months as prisoners of the pirates.

On a slightly related note, it's being reported that one of the prisoners from the recently hijacked Turkish ship Horizon I is a woman mariner. Aysun Afbay is the vessel's fourth officer, a 24-year-old Turkish woman who is not, as the Russia Today report states, the first woman to be held hostage by Somali pirates. Several women sailing on pleasure boats have been seized in the past year, and none were mistreated by their captors. Afbay is, though, the first female commercial mariner to be taken hostage.

By the way, there is still some concern about just what is to become of those T-72 tanks that the Faina was ferrying. Jane's has been monitoring them and reports that they may be slowly making their way northwards from barracks outside Nairobi where they have been stored since the hijacking ended in early February of this year. That would be towards the border with southern Sudan, where the Sudan People's Liberation Army may be awaiting the weaponry. The Jane's reports says that the South Sudanese had ordered 100 tanks for their forces, with the ones in the Faina comprising the last of three shipments.

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