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25/10/2013 | Indian double standard aims arrow at heart of counter-piracy private maritime security company (PMSC) operations

Martin Edwin Andersen

"The plight of the crew and guards of the MV SEAMAN GUARD OHIO, the maritime counter-piracy vessel detained by the Indian Coast Guard on grounds that independent analysts are already declaring to be suspect, is both tragic and underlines the failure of the world's largest democracy in safeguarding international commerce on the high seas, as well as to respect seafarers' rights."

 

The plight of the crew and guards of the MV SEAMAN GUARD OHIO, the maritime counter-piracy vessel detained by the Indian Coast Guard on grounds that independent analysts say are suspect, is both tragic and underlines the failure of the world’s largest democracy in safeguarding international commerce on the high seas, as well as to respect seafarers’ rights.

If Cicero was right, and “memory is the treasury and guardian of all things,” the case against the MV OHIO and its professional staff ought to be brought to an immediate end.

Those with good memories, particularly guardians of maritime security questions, will remember the case of the FV EKAWAT NAVA 5, a hijacked Kiribati-flagged, Thai-owned deep sea fishing trawler that was sunk by INS Tabar of the Indian Navy on November 18, 2008 in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.

The FV EKAWAT NAVA 5 sank when a fire was started on the trawler when the INS TABAR apparently retaliated after being fired upon by those thought to be pirates. The Indian warship killed all but one on the fishing vessel.

Fourteen innocent seafarers, who were standing on the deck of their vessel with their hands in the air above them, died following the INS TABAR’s deployment of 100 mm cannon fire.

This occurred after the warship fired on the vessel’s superstructure in order to destroy any means of communication.

The Indian operation stands in stark contrast with record of private maritime security companies (PMSCs),  particularly given the fact that—except for perhaps in a single case—pirates have never successfully captured a vessel which had private security guards on board.

The apparent double standard on matters concerning the use of force at sea, now brandished by the Indian government against private PMSCs, could not be more apparent, particularly given the fate of the FV EKAWAT NAVA’s seafarers.

The philosopher George Santayana perhaps said it best when he noted, “A country without memory is a country of madmen.”

It is a sad moniker today being imposed on a country of 1.27 billion people … by India’s own maritime and prosecutorial officials.

Piracy Daily (Estados Unidos)

 



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