…as search for 16 missing fishermen continues
Relatives of the 16 fishermen who were thrown overboard during a horrific piracy attack last weekend believe the situation would not be the same had there been a timely response from the Dutch authorities.
This is as the Surinamese Government on Tuesday dispatched a helicopter to continue the search for the missing men (majority of whom are suspected to be Guyanese) who are feared dead.
The Surinamese Government in a statement on Tuesday afternoon said a helicopter has been dispatched to continue the three-day search with the hope of rescuing more of the missing fishermen or at least retrieve their bodies.
Five men, armed with guns and cutlasses, attacked four fishing boats and their 20 crew members late Friday evening into Saturday morning near the Wia Wia bank off of the Surinamese shore.
According to reports from the neighbouring country, the sea bandits stole the fishermen’s catch, fuel, the boat engines as well as fish glue. They also hijacked one of the four boats and sank another one, while the two others were retrieved and taken back to shore.
Local media in Suriname has since reported that one of the survivors has identified four of the five attackers to be Guyanese. He identified them by their ‘sea names’ as “Dick”, “Bolo”, “Crackhead” and “Sanbad”. The fifth perpetrator was a “dark-coloured” male unknown to the fishermen.
During the attack, the ruthless sea bandits mercilessly inflicted chop wounds on the crew men and ordered them to jump overboard but not before tying them up with boat anchors, batteries and other heavy items to anchor the men’s bodies underwater.
Of the 20 fishermen in Friday’s incident, which has been described as one of the most horrific piracy attacks in recent history, only four were able to make their way to shore.
Boat Captain Ramesh Sanicharran, called “Ravo”, one of the survivors, related to reporters what happened to him during the attack.
“The looters them come and start to chop we up in the boat and say everybody gonna die. They chop me pon my hand, pon my head and they throw we in the water, everybody… They tie me neck with the anchor and when I reach down to the ground, I lose it and come up back, and for so far only me can meet shore… I don’t know what happen to the rest but I think two of them dead in the boat because they get bad chop,” the boat captain told reporters on Monday.
However, reports coming out of the neighbouring country revealed that those two badly injured fishermen, who were spared being thrown overboard, survived and are receiving medical attention.
Like most of his fellow colleagues, the Guyanese-born fisherman, originally from Good Hope, East Coast Demerara (ECD), has been living and working in the neighbouring country for a number of years, and according to him, there is little done by the Surinamese authorities to protect seamen.
Meanwhile, another Guyanese, Joan Parris, is also in despair as she awaits news about her son, 21-year-old Glenroy Jones, who is missing. She too lamented about the lack of response of the Surinamese authorities in responding to the reports of piracy.
“When we heard, we go at the station to report it, you know what they told us, they have to wait till somebody come from out at sea and report the matter, that’s foolish… Is another fishing boat had to load up their own fuel and go out there with 12 men to look to see if they find anybody… Even if them boys survived (the attack), I don’t think they would be alive up to now,” the woman noted.
Parris went on to accuse the Surinamese Police of not being fully proactive in their response, since the victims are mostly Guyanese. “This Government isn’t doing anything cause is Guyanese people but is Guyanese people building their fishing industry, their shrimp industry and their prawns industry… No Dutch man ain’t going on that water top, is share Guyanese and they need to protect Guyanese,” she asserted.
This publication was informed that the Dutch Coast Guard, military and Police Force are continuing the search with support from French Guiana.
The Surinamese Justice and Police Minister assured that the necessary steps have been taken to ensure the safety of the fishermen in the future. This, he noted, includes, among other things, the installation of a GPS system and the creation of special organisations.
Meanwhile, efforts to contact Guyana’s security officials on whether they are getting involved or have been contacted by their Surinamese counterparts have been futile.