Politics Economics Society

Robin Hoods of the sea

Today, BBC showed a documentary of the British navy patrolling the Indian Ocean for pirates.  In one of their watch, they saw a boatful of Somalis appeared. A couple climbed up the navy ship claiming they’re fishermen.  The navy issued them a warning not to proceed any further and advised them to go back to their boat.

The documentary closed with the question, ‘isn’t this dealing with symptoms not the cause?’

The same question played in my mind too as I was watching the show.

Take the discrepancy in vessel size for example.  The British naval ship is exactly what you’d imagine a first world country would own: landing area for planes, sophisticated communication equipment, well-stocked pantry, the like. Compare these with the boat teeming with Somalis: of indigenous material, motor engine, oars.  The navy personnel was shown training their mounted machine guns on the boat, fingers prepared to fire on the first command.  The scene looked preposterous– it was like aiming a huge missile at a teeny mouse.

The two Somalis apparently leaders of the group who were brought onto the ship deck were given a thorough lecture on the evil of piracy and afterward told to go back.  This comes across as ludicrous, like getting mad at 3 year-olds because they “stole” cookies from the pantry.  If there’s somebody who deserves a scolding, it’s the Somalian government officials and whoever are behind the crisis in the which has forced it’s citizens to extreme livelihoods like piracy.

It’s not that I condone piracy, I don’t, but the navy’s behavior, its arrogant handling of unarmed Somalian “pirates” is unnecessary demonstration of power and might.

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