Two brave Chinese reporters went to Somalia and interviewed local people, which they claimed was the first time Somali pirates exposed themselves to international media in an interview. Besides rolls of precious photos they brought back together with their lives, they made an assertion that they have found the real reason behind the rampant piracy in this war-torn country.
The good news is, they are having a photo exhibition NOW in Shanghai!
Find Somali Pirates Photo Exhibition
721 Kunming Road (Jintong North Road), Xianchang Bar, Shanghai
When: 12/12/2009 TODAY, 8:00 am – 7 pm (This is the time on the poster but the website says it will be open until 5 pm)
Website: The exhibition’s webpage on icpress.cn (in Chinese)
Please read the Chinese announcement in their website for more information if you are heading for the exhibition now.
The bad news (for me) is I’m not in Shanghai otherwise I’m already on the way to the bar because I love war stories! However, I will post more photos in this post.
Note: Photo credits go to Morning News report Zeng Yu (《新闻晨报》记者曾玉).
An article from The Beijing News came out after my post. A summary:
1. The five guys in uniform were their hired bodyguards. The interview was in January in 2009.
2. The guy in the third from bottom photo was a pirate leader, nicknamed Najib. The five bodyguards refused to enter Najib’s heavily guarded house so the two journalists paid Najib to do an interview in a hotel.
3. Reason of piracy they found: foreign fishing ships took most water area that were traditionally their fishing places and then a lot of fishermen became pirates for a living. Najib’s monthly income was about $10k from fishing before he became a pirate. However after foreign ships took fishing waters, Najib could no long catch much fish and when he heard some of his friends got rich as pirates, he joined in.
4. In the local free market, many products are from China. Some were smuggled into the country.
5. Najib also told the reporters how he and his fellows hijacked a ship and got 1.5 million in the first action.
6. The reporters found that the locals are optimistic and full of vitativeness. They think if people could catch as many fish as before they would quit from piracy and return to their normal lives. A young folk they interviewed told the reporters how much he loved fishing. One of their bodyguards was once persuaded to become a pirate but he refused.
7. Local people, especially their bodyguards, gave them an impression of trustworthiness and even brotherliness. In another article they tell how they established a friendship with their bodyguards in ten days and one of them even shed tears when they parted.
8. The reporters think the solution to Somalia’s piracy problem should be a strong and effective central government in the country and the international community should offer their best help.
CCTV interviewed the two reporters (in March) and posted it online with videos and photos they took in Somalia. A fascinating story!
The pictures posted here are far from the best. Watch the video. There are photos/videos of guns, explosion, police transporting criminals in vehicle, pirates in a boat with RPGs, local market and even the bodyguards’ family members. One interviewee told the reporters part of the ransom was used to bribe the government, some for weapons and some went to public funds (but he’s reluctant to say what funds).
They felt the people’s desire for knowledge. One bodyguard asked the reporters to buy some English books on geography in China since he wanted to work in petroleum industry in future.
A fascinating story!