Seafarer’s Voices: Video Series Provides Former Pirate Hostages Opportunity to Speak Out

Mike Schuler
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February 21, 2012

The Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) has just released a series of videos on Youtube highlighting the stories of four former pirate hostages.

“Piracy takes a terrible toll on seafarers and their families,” says the Rev. David M. Rider, SCI’s President and Executive Director. “Many suffer in silence.”

SCI’s goal with the series of videos was to break that silence by asking a group of seafarers that had been held in captivity by Somali pirates to share their experiences and record their first-hand accounts of the pirate attacks. The seafarers relate stories of mental and physical torture, intimidation of both them and their families and drug abuse by pirates while on board.

“Piracy has always captured public imagination—most of which is romanticized,” adds Douglas B. Stevenson, Director of SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights.  “We are trying to show the real human impact of piracy through seafarers’ own words.”

Stevenson adds “By not talking publicly about the effects of piracy, we contribute to the silence. It’s time we speak out.”

Here are the four videos released in the first installment, each video ending with the text “Piracy affects real people”.

Above; Held hostage for more than four months, Alex tells of the anxiety and fear he felt on the day his ship’s ransom was paid. Because there was so much money on board, he and his crewmates risked getting caught in a violent dispute among the pirates.

Above: Captain on an oil tanker, Jerry describes the precautionary measures he and his crew undertake before and during voyages through high-risk piracy areas. Even with many best practice guidelines available, seafarers remain vulnerable to ruthless attacks.

Above: This ship’s engineer describes the hardships of his kidnapping by Somali pirates. Because the pirates allowed only phone calls related to the hostage negotiation, his family spent seven months unsure whether he was dead or alive.

Above: Dipendra endured an eight-month hijacking, during which time he experienced first-hand the damaging effects of piracy on the human psyche. When he was finally released, however, he found few opportunities for helpful post-piracy care.



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