Sri Lankan sailors under Somali pirates
Relatives of the Sri Lankan sailors under Somali pirates
appeal for public help to save their family members

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith joined with Religious leaders
to take up the matter with the Authority
[ Fr.Sunil De Silva - 07.08.2012 ]

Sri Lankan religious leaders, headed by His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, have joined with the Religious leaders and families of seven sailors held by Somali pirates to take the matter up with the authorities to save the sailors.

Somali pirates have demanded more than $1 million for their release.

Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim clergy and the families made a joint appeal to Sri Lankans on Monday to contribute to the fund.

The Malaysian-owned MV Albedo was hijacked on 26thNovember 2010, by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden while sailing from Jebel Ali to Mombassa, Kenya in the Gulf of Aden.

The pirates released seven Pakistani sailorswere released on August 1 after their families and other groups paid $1.1 million for their release. The pirates had earlier agreed to free all 22 crew for $2.85 million.

The crew members still held by pirates were left with seven Sri Lankan sailors, six Bangladeshis, one Iranian and one Indian.
One Indian crew member on the MV Albedo died of cholera.

“When recruiting people, a shipping company undertakes to safeguard the lives of their crews and at this moment this company cannot ignore their responsibilities,” said His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Wilasani Wakwella, wife of Nalindra Wakwella, the ship’s engineer who is still captive, addressing the media, said, “The Malaysian-based company at first agreed to contribute to any ransom that would be paid. But now they are refusing to do so”.

A senior official of the Shipping Masters Office, a government-run institution in charge of sailors working for foreign companies, said the seven sailors were not working legally on the MV Albedo, and the government could not intervene.
Records indicate nearly 6,000 Sri Lankans have registered to work on foreign ships, although many more are working without documentation.

Family members of six Sri Lankan sailors who are still being held hostage aboard the MV Albedo will launch a nationwide appeal in a bid to raise enough money to free their men.

Worries about the safety of the remaining hijacked crew resurfaced after news spread about the brutality suffered by the freed Pakistani sailors.

Mr Bisthamy called his wife in Colombo shortly before the Pakistani crew was released, asking her to talk to the government.

`Day before the Pakistanis were freed, my dad talked to my mum and asked her to go to the president. He said, `Try to do something,`` recalled Mrs Farhana.

`We have tried to reach the government but we had no success, so now we are going to the media and to Sri Lankan people anywhere in the world, asking if they can assist us.`

His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm assured the relative that he would do his utmost to speak the relevant authorities, to work on the negotiations to get them freed.