Monday, 21 March 2011


11 year old pirates amongst 25 child pirates captured, say Indian authorities.

The Indian Navy, that had detained 61 pirates in an operation in the Arabian Sea in the first week of March, was amazed to find the 25 of the 61 claimed to be less than 15 years old. "At least four of them are just 11 or so. It seems younger and younger children in Somalia are being pushed into piracy, which is proving immensely lucrative in the lawless country-the established pirates, who have got rich, are no longer sailing out on raids," a spokesman told reporters.

This development comes even as the Indian authorities announced recently that modifications to the navy’s rules of engagement were on the anvil that would give the forces more teeth to aggressively pursue and engage pirates off the country’s coast. Teenage pirates have been often detained by navies, including the Indian navy, but this is the first time that so many children below 15 have been caught.

All the arrested pirates have been taken to the Yellow Gate police station in south Mumbai, and will be charged under appropriate laws, authorities say. The issue of child pirates, however, will undoubtedly make the prosecution of captured pirates even more complex. Experts point out that the legal system will be surely stymied by the fact that so many of the pirates are children. They say that a parallel can be drawn between these child pirates and child soldiers that are dismayingly common around the world- particularly in Sierra Leone’s ‘blood diamonds’ trade, the Sudanese civil war and the Afghan and Iraq conflicts.

Naked adventurer seeks world record.

Thirty year old Keith Whelan from Kildare in Ireland intends to become the youngest male rower and the first Irishman to cross the Indian Ocean. An interesting addition: he will be completely naked- and sitting of a sheep skin rug- when he makes the 6000 mile voyage from Australia to Mauritius.

To quickly add: Mr Whelan is not planning the nude crossing to seek publicity; he told the media that he was doing this to protect himself from the harsh elements and the hostile environment. "When you're at sea rowing for three and a half to four months, the salt gets encrusted in your clothes and you can't wash them," he said. "Eventually, your clothes will feel like you're wearing sandpaper and you will begin to chafe."

He may have a point. Rowing 12 hours daily on a two hour on- two hour off rotation, he will take four months to make the crossing, making an estimated 1.8 million oar strokes “in searing heat, up to 50 foot ocean swells, hurricane force winds and raging storms”, and on a boat just 23 feet long.

He is also raising funds for the Keep a Child Alive charity, which gives life-saving treatment, care and support to children and families affected by HIV/Aids in Africa and India.

An event management consultant, Mr Whelan started rowing just two years ago, but says that he always wanted to make this gruelling voyage. "More people have walked on the moon than have rowed across the Indian Ocean. I'm hoping to get the spotlight of achievement back on Ireland with this world record."


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