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The Truth About Somalia’s Pirates?

If nuclear waste was dumped on your beach you’d grab a cutlass, too.

We just read an amazing article from the UK newspaper, the Independent, about the true story of Somalia’s pirates that have been grabbing the headlines for months now. If the information is true – and to be honest, if fits – then it’s a scandal of epic proportions, the kind of everyday tragedy that doesn’t make the news because Paris Hilton is taking up the airwaves.

So get this: the article by Johann Hari explains that since Somalia’s government fell in 1991, ships have been arriving off Somalia’s shores and dumping nuclear and chemical waste. Where do the ships come from? Europe. Who brings them there? The Camorra, Italy’s largest mafia that runs a good deal of Europe’s waste disposal service.

Roberto Saviano spelled out in his courageous book Gamorrah just to what extent the Camorra have polluted, scarred and poisoned Italy’s countryside, how they have infiltrated all levels of local government in Napoli and run worldwide business in imitation fashion, guns and drugs. The offer cheap contracts, Western governments save some money and a country on its knees like Somalia is just a convenient dump. Nothing personal, it’s just business.

Naturally, Somalians weren’t too happy about that and sent out boats to try to stop the ships from poisoning their seas and jeopardising the health of their people. They weren’t too happy about all the fishing trawlers depleting the stocks of shrimp either that they depended on for survival. Now we’ve overfished our own oceans until there’s barely a healthy fish population left, a free market economy just moves on to the next exploitable resource. That, after all, is the Story of Stuff.

S why haven’t we heard such an incredible story before in more than a year of BBC and CNN coverage?

Because like all news, there are too many special interests for certain subjects to get reported. Every day people are shot and maimed but when do we hear news stories about the companies that produce the arms? Every day 3000 children in Africa die from malaria in countries that could eradicate the disease if they weren’t run by dictators propped up by Western aid. Every day women are abducted from their homes and forced into slavery in brothels across Europe, the US, Japan and Australia.

And then we go abroad and wonder why we’re not always greeted with open arms?

But the calm, balanced media coverage will continue, including perhaps the odd ‘radical’ who mentions nuclear waste – but no, these are common criminals. They threaten our oil supply and that makes them guilty before the newspapers go to press.

The exception in this case might be Journeyman Pictures’ short documentary about the fisherman-turned-pirates. The small bit about nuclear waste isn’t mentioned but after seeing this you’d think twice about the authenticity of European lobster.

Also, read Johann Hari’s article on the truth behind the Somalian pirates in full.