When Will the Media Interview Somalis About the 'Somali' Pirates?

Jeremy Scahill

RebelReports reports:

I have still yet to see a Somali person interviewed by any major US
media outlet regarding the "pirate" situation. The story is being told
entirely through the lens of US military analysts and pundits. While
there are certainly many Somalis who could explain the context for this
activity by their countrymen, the networks can't seem to locate
any-even though there is a sizable Somali community in the US and
Canada. One source I would recommend is the Somali-Canadian Hip Hop
artist K'naan. Here is part of a recent essay, "Why We Don't Condemn Our Pirates," K'naan wrote not long before the current incident that is grabbing the headlines:

Can anyone ever really be for piracy? Outside of sea bandits, and
young girls fantasizing of Johnny Depp, would anyone with an honest
regard for good human conduct really say that they are in support of
Sea Robbery?

Well, in Somalia, the answer is: it's complicated.

K'naan details some of the toxic dumping by Western nations following the collapse of the Somali government:

A Swiss firm called Achair Parterns, and an Italian waste company
called Achair Parterns, made a deal with Ali Mahdi, that they were to
dump containers of waste material in Somali waters. These European
companies were said to be paying Warlords about $3 a ton, whereas to
properly dispose of waste in Europe costs about $1000 a ton.

In 2004, after a tsunami washed ashore several leaking containers,
thousand of locals in the Puntland region of Somalia started to
complain of severe and previously unreported ailments, such as
abdominal bleeding, skin melting off and a lot of immediate cancer-like
symptoms. Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the United Nations
Environmental Program, says that the containers had many different
kinds of waste, including "Uranium, radioactive waste, lead, Cadmium,
Mercury and chemical waste." But this wasn't just a passing evil from
one or two groups taking advantage of our unprotected waters. The UN
envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, says that the practice still
continues to this day. It was months after those initial reports that
local fishermen mobilized themselves, along with street militias, to go
into the waters and deter the Westerners from having a free pass at
completely destroying Somalia's aquatic life. Now years later, the
deterring has become less noble, and the ex-fishermen with their
militias have begun to develop a taste for ransom at sea. This form of
piracy is now a major contributor to the Somali economy, especially in
the very region that private toxic waste companies first began to burry
our nation's death trap.

Now Somalia has upped the world's pirate attacks by over 21 percent
in one year, and while NATO and the EU are both sending forces to the
Somali coast to try and slow down the attacks, Blackwater and all kinds
of private security firms are intent on cashing in. But while Europeans
are well in their right to protect their trade interest in the region,
our pirates were the only deterrent we had from an externally imposed
environmental disaster.

No one can say for sure that some of the ships they are now holding
for ransom were not involved in illegal activity in our waters. The
truth is, if you ask any Somali, if getting rid of the pirates only
means the continuous rape of our coast by unmonitored Western Vessels,
and the producing of a new cancerous generation, we would all fly our
pirate flags high.

It is time that the world gave the Somali people some assurance that
these Western illegal activities will end, if our pirates are to seize
their operations. We do not want the EU and NATO serving as a shield
for these nuclear waste-dumping hoodlums. It seems to me that this new
modern crisis is truly a question of justice, but also a question of
whose justice.

As is apparent these days, one man's pirate is another man's coast guard.

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