The escapades of Somali pirates made headlines recently. But the media has ignored the injustice behind the phenomenon.
This is the real story about piracy
"... In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million
people have been teetering on starvation ever since -- and the ugliest
forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to
steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious
European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast
barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first
they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after
the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up
on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is
dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such
as cadmium and mercury -- you name it." Much of it can be traced back to
European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the
Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah
what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh:
"Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas
of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish
stocks by overexploitation -- and now we have moved on to theirs. More
than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every
year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed
Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told
Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our
This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian
fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers,
or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer
Coastguard of Somalia -- and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent
Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported
the piracy as a form of national defence". ..."