29 July 2011

Press Conference - Photos

A few photos from the press conference held outside the court building on August 15...

Just returned from Kenia, the theatre group 'Geheimagentur' announce their play 'PARLEZ! Echte Piraten' which will be performed from August 24 to 26 in Kampnagel Theatre.

Abdul Mohamud Qalimow

23 July 2011

"What should I answer - I don't understand"

Court is taking a break over summer. The trial will resume on August 15.

At the last hearing on 15 July, the lawyer for the youngest accused filed an application for the stay of proceedings, which several of the other lawyers joined. The basis is that the accused were held for several days in captivity before being presented before a judge. According to both Dutch and German laws, when a person is arrested, they must appear before a judge within 48 hours. This was clearly not the case, as the accused were held and interviewed on the Dutch frigate Tromp for several days. The decision on this is reserved.

Piracy Trial out in the open - two speeches

Two of the speeches held at the press conference outside the Hamburg Criminal Justice Building on July 15.

Speech by Abdulahi Mohamud Qalimow

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The ongoing state of war in Somalia; the hunger, abject poverty and injustice are strong forces that over the decades have torn the country apart. Today, the recruitment of children by Warlord gangs, Klans and Pirates is part of everyday life. These groups polarise the country for their own interests and have no scruples. Somalia is a country in ruins, a country in which millions of civilians suffer under the ravages of war.

A War Without Declaration

EU-NAVFOR (European Navy Forces) - 'Mission Atalanta': A War Without Declaration

The defendants in the so-called 'Pirate Trial' were, on 5th April 2010, attacked on the German containership Taipan by a Dutch warship, the Tromp. Heavy weapons were used and the defendants were held captive for a week on board thr Tromp as they were transported to Mogadischu. During this time highly questionable interrogations, described later as just harmless 'conversations', took place. The person who conducted the interrogations later admitted to being an officer of the Dutch Naval Intelligence. And the former captain of the Tromp received a medal for his 'special services to the navy'.

14 July 2011

"Piracy Trial" out in the open: a Somali expert gives evidence

Press Invitation for a public hearing of an expert from Somalia

Friday, 15 July 2011, 12:15 pm outside the Hamburg Criminal Justice Building (Sievekingplatz) with Political Scientist Abdulahi Mohamud Qalimow

So far, the court has made no effort whatsoever to hear expert witnesses from the Somali region. In order for at least the public to be informed and to give an expert from Somalia the opportunity to speak, a number of groups are having a public hearing outside the court building. These groups include No-One Is Illegal, Third World Harbour Group and the One World Network Hamburg, who have been closely watching the trial against the ten Somali.

Political Scientist and project manager Abdulahi Mohamud Qalimow now lives in Zurich. Before he fled Somalia in the mid 90s he started a school project in the south of the country, which he still looks after. He maintains many contacts with Somalia and Kenya, as well as with the Somali diaspora in Europe. Qalimow is a director of the Organisation for Social Welfare and Rural Development in Somalia (SOWRDO) and of the Somali Society in Switzerland. On July, 15 he will be answering questions regarding the situation in Somalia as well as the trial. This will – at least outside the court – contrast the Euro-centric viewpoint of the witnesses that have been heard in court with the statements of an expert from Somalia.

Since November 2010, the so-called piracy trial has been taking place in Hamburg: ten Somali men – three of them under age – are accused of having attacked the container vessel MV Taipan in April 2010. The ship is owned by Hamburg company. During 38 trial dates so far, the accused had to listen to seven white European expert witnesses.

Three forensic experts think that they can determine the age of the accused with dubious and humiliating methods. The birth certificates and school records of the accused do not count in a German court. The European “experts”, who have given evidence on the social and economic situation in Somalia leave many questions unanswered. With their half-knowledge obtained from the internet or without citing their sources altogether, these so-called experts evaluate the the social conditions in Somalia and play their part in deciding how the alleged crimes will be judged.

The choice of expert witnesses demonstrates the continuation of colonial practices and attitudes in a frightening way. Other practices, like the fact that the juvenile accused have been remanded in prison for over a year, also shows the double standards of the court. Were the accused German, they would have been released a long time ago.

Germany's imperial tradition is also continued in the involvement, together with other European nations, in the ATALANTA mission, which protects trade ships with military means. While those responsible for the plunder of Somali fishing grounds and the dumping of toxic waste there go unpunished, ten impoverished Somali men are being trialled. Under the UN Maritime Convention, all three activities are illegal – but only one of them is being prosecuted.