British hostages urge PM to clarify stance with Somali pirates

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A British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean seven months ago appealed in a video broadcast for the new government in London to publicly state its position on their plight.

Paul and Rachel Chandler said their kidnappers’ expectations had been raised by the election of the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government on May 6 and called on Prime Minister David Cameron to clarify its stance on the pirates’ demands.
“As the new prime minister we desperately need him to make a definitive public statement of the government’s attitude to us,” Paul Chandler said in the video, believed to have been filmed last week by a local journalist and shown on Channel 4 television and ITV.
“If the government is not prepared to help then they must say so because the gangsters’ expectations and hopes have been raised by the thought of a new government. There might be a different approach.
“If the government can help, and I think they should, then we would welcome that and would they please do so.
“But either way they must make a statement so that we know where we stand.”

The couple were kidnapped last October after they sailed their 38-foot yacht Lynn Rival in international waters north of the Seychelles and a ransom of $7 million was demanded.

Britain’s Foreign Office said the couple were innocent tourists when they were taken, and urged the hostage-takers to release the pair “safely, immediately and unconditionally”.
“The UK government’s policy of not making or facilitating substantive concessions to hostage-takers, including the payment of ransoms, is long-standing and clear,” it said in a statement.
“This has been the policy of successive governments and has not changed.”

The pirate gangs — some made up of former fishermen angered by the presence of foreign fishing fleets in Somali waters — and their backers in Somalia and abroad have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, usually by seizing cargo ships.

Paul Chandler, 60, and his wife Rachel, 56, were filmed in a secret location miles from the nearest village deep inside Somalia, with heavily armed pirates standing behind the camera.

Rachel Chandler said they had been “kept caged up like animals”, often in solitary confinement.
“They don’t care about our feelings, and our family and our lives and what they have taken,” she said. “They don’t care whose lives they ruin.

They just want the money.”



Source: www.af.reuters.com