Somali pirates: Part of the story mainstream media hasn’t told us!

Do they have a story to tell? Who is listening?

Do they have a story to tell? Who is listening?

Piracy has a chequered history, and even the Wikipedia offers a carefully qualified definition. One person’s pirate can be another person’s defender. There’s an argument that the European colonial powers rode on the backs of their pirates or buccaneers. And I’m writing this in English language possibly because the English were more successful in their overseas piracy than other nations!

Piracy is all over the news again, due to increased activity off Somalia. But in the past few weeks, we’ve started hearing another side of the Somali piracy story — one that the mainstream media didn’t tell us.

Johann Hari, a columnist for the London Independent, posted an op ed in Huffington Post on 13 April 2009 that took a different look at Somali pirates. His main argument: “In 1991, the government of Somalia – in the Horn of Africa – collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and many of 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.”

In recent days, two interesting short videos have been posted by two activist groups to support the same point of view. I haven’t investigated this story myself, but am intrigued by their take on a widely reported topic…especially because it’s an angle that we don’t read or see in the mainstream media!

The Media Is Lying to You About Pirates

The IFC Media Project’s “News Junkie” deconstructs the mainstream media’s half-baked coverage of Somali Pirates.


Are They Really “Pirates”?

This film from Awareness Unfolds highlights the fact that the media is lying about the so called “pirates” of Somolia. According to the blurb: “They (media) choose not to tell you about the toxic waste dumping going on by American, European, and Asian countries that have lead to the death of many Somolian citizens.”

As Johann Hari says at the end of his article: “The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know “what he meant by keeping possession of the sea.” The pirate smiled, and responded: “What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor.” Once again, our great imperial fleets sail in today – but who is the robber?”

Johann Hari has reported from Iraq, Israel/Palestine, the Congo, the Central African Republic, Venezuela, Peru and the US, and his journalism has appeared in publications all over the world. In 2007 Amnesty International named him Newspaper Journalist of the Year. In 2008 he became the youngest person ever to win Britain’s leading award for political writing, the Orwell Prize.