Guyana Opposition Leader Says Piracy Should be Treated as Terrorism

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jadgeo listens to the concerns of members of the fishing community in Suriname, most of whom are Guyanese.

By Ivan Cairo / CMC

PARAMARIBO, Suriname – Guyana’s Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo
has called for those involved in the piracy attack off the off the coast of
Suriname earlier this month, resulting in the deaths of at least 16 fishermen,
should be treated as terrorists.

“We have to explore to not only using the piracy law, but the terrorism law
in Guyana to go after this,” Jagdeo said as he addressed fishermen,
families of those missing fishermen, boat owners and survivors in Suriname on Sunday.

A Guyana government delegation, headed by Public security Minister
Khemraj Ramjattan, is holding talks with the Surinamese authorities
Monday on finding ways of dealing with the attacks by pirates.

Jagdeo, who has promised to file a motion in the Guyana Parliament on
Friday on the issue, said that the suspects caught in Guyana should also
not be prosecuted by specially trained attorneys.

The Opposition Leader, who was accompanied by his colleague, Anil
Nandlall, said there was need for a united approach by Guyana and
Suriname to deal with the piracy issue.


Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, accompanied by Opposition MP Anil Nandlall, addresses the gathering.

“We will support the government of Guyana as much as it’s so
reprehensible. On this one we will collaborate with the government, work
with them because we hope they don’t play politics with this”, Jagdeo told
the gathering.

Police in the two countries say they have detained more than 10 people in
connection with the tragedy. They have not released the names of those
detained but there have been media reports that the suspects have been
residing here for several years and would regularly travel between the two
CARICOM countries.

The Suriname government has said it is exploring the idea of having fishing
boats have mandatory global positioning systems (GPS) as the authorities
continue to search for the fishermen believed to have been killed by the

On Saturday, Defence Minister Ronni Benschap said that the authorities
have beefed up security for fishermen including the use of helicopters and
has promised that “within one week you can go back to sea and ply tour

“Because when you lose money, the country loses money,” Benschap told
the fishermen. Officials estimate that the industry is valued at more than
US$45 million.

The Suriname Coast Guard said that the fishermen were part of a group of
20 in four boats who were attacked off the Atlantic coast of Suriname. Five
of the fishermen are reported to have survived the ordeal and are assisting
the law enforcement agencies in their investigations.

One survivor told investigators that some of the fishermen had weights tied
to their feet by the pirates before they were thrown overboard.

President David Granger, speaking at the Caribbean Financial Action Task
Force’s (CFATF) workshop last week, said he was ‘deeply grieved” by the
pirate attack .

“We are deeply grieved by the tragedy. Clearly, some Guyanese have been
victims and we are in touch with the Surinamese government, also the
Surinamese police authorities,” he added. – CMC