…all fishing activities halted
…families still awaiting answers
As Surinamese authorities continue to search for the missing fishermen from the two recent pirate attacks, two more bodies have been found. Guyana Times understands that these bodies are the same ones that were spotted by the rescue team a few days ago, but they were unable to recover them due to the thick mud that were in the area. However, after returning to the area the following day, the authorities managed to retrieve the bodies, which were brought to shore on Friday morning.
This now brings the total body count to three, while five survivors have been accounted for. Between the two attacks offshore Suriname, 17 fishermen are still missing from last Saturday’s and Wednesday’s horrific attacks.
In the case of the first attack, sea bandits not only raided four boats, but brutally chopped and shot at the 20 crew members, before tying them up to heavy items such as batteries and the boat anchor and throwing them over board.
Meanwhile, authorities in the Dutch nation are having difficulty identifying the victims of last weekend’s attack, as well as the most recent one on Wednesday, which left a boat captain dead and his crew members missing.
To this end, the Surinamese Police are calling on families of the victims, most of whom are suspected to be Guyanese, to come forward and provide the Police with the necessary identification details of their missing relatives.
The Police note it is important for investigators to have a complete list of the correct details (name, first name, birth date, ID number or passport number) of the victims, and so the families are being urged to contact or visit the Department of Capital Crimes located at the Havenlaan Zuid number One, (Police Station New Haven, top floor). They are being asked to walk with relevant documents, such as copy ID card, passport and photo). The Capital Crimes Department can be reached at numbers 403645/403252.
Moreover, Secretary of the Fishermen Collective in Suriname, Mark Lall, told <<Guyana Times>> during a brief interview on Friday that, in addition to contacting the Police with the correct identification information of their loved ones, they should also check with the boat operators to ensure that those persons were indeed on the five boats that were attacked during the past week.
Asked why the boat operators have not provided this information on the identity of their workers, Lall explained that most of the fishermen go by ‘sea names’ and so
their real identities are unknown to the boat owners.
“That is the problem, the boat owners know the fishermen mostly by their call name, which is a normal thing we noticed for Guyanese people. Your name can be, for example, Lall but the only name you’re known as is “Fatman” because that’s your calling name… So it’s important that the families make contact with the Police authorities and the owners whose boats and workers were victim of piracy, to find out if their loved one was on the trip,” he stated.
Lall noted that some boat owners have decided to halt operations at sea temporarily as fear of imminent attack looms.
There have been reports that two fishermen who were believed to be out on the boats that were attacked, and listed amongst those missing, turning up safe and sound after not being able to make the trips.
Among those Guyanese who are missing from last weekend’s incidents are: Ramesh Sanchara; Ganesh Persaud, Vickey Persaud, Glenroy Jones, Bharat Heralall, Ralph Anthony, and Tiaknauth Mohabir. The missing men so far identified are: Tilaknauth Mohabir, 50, also known as ‘Kai’; Ganesh Beharry; Ralph Anthony Couchman, 19, also known as ‘Burnham’; Ramesh Sancharra, 48; Glenroy Jones, 21; Randy Burnette; Ramnarine Singh; Bharat Heeralall, also known as “Record”, 49; Bobby Ibrahim; Sunil, known as Poddock; Mahesh Sarjoo, 35 and Rajkumar Bissessar.
On the other hand, even as the Surinamese Police urge relatives to provide identification details, frustrated families in Guyana continue to lament the lack of information forthcoming from authorities both here and in the neighbouring Dutch-speaking country, while they are also awaiting an active response from the Guyana Government.
Many of those families have since travelled to Suriname with the hope of getting answers about their loved ones. The brother of one of the missing fishermen, Ramnarine Singh, told this newspaper relatives want the Guyanese authorities to get involved with their Surinamese counterparts, so that the necessary information can be filtered down to anxious families, while assistance can also be given wherever needed.
“We just want to know something, if he dead or alive… and if he dead, then we want the body to come back home, and we would need help with that, and the Government should do something to help with this,” Kenrick told this newspaper.
Furthermore, calls are also being made for the Guyana Government to step up and work along with the Dutch authorities to ensure the safety of fishermen.
“This situation is a terrible one, and something has to be done. For a long time this will continue if somebody does not put their foot down and stop this… The Suriname and the Guyana governments have to do something,” another concerned relative, Gildarie Persaud, urged.
Thus far, Police in Suriname has seven suspects in custody, and they are being grilled on last weekend’s attack. Meanwhile, over in Guyana, ranks in ‘B’ Division (Berbice) have also arrested four persons over the past three days for questioning on the attack, which occurred in Surinamese waters.
Speaking with the <<Guyana Times>>, Divisional Commander Lyndon Alves explained that the men were arrested on intelligence information given by the Surinamese Police.
“Based on some information passed to us, they were arrested and are presently being questioned as it relates to the Suriname attack,” he said, while opting not to divulge any further details regarding local investigations.
Among those in custody is Nakool Manohar called ‘Fyah’, of Number 43 Village, Corentyne. The man’s family has invited the media to speak with them to pronounce the innocence of the man in custody [Manohar], but refused on-camera interviews when the media arrived. However, they claim that one of the masterminds of the piracy attack resides on the East Coast of Demerara.
Meanwhile, <<Guyana Times>> understands that three of the five survivors of last Saturday’s piracy attack have returned to Guyana. However, they are all tight-lipped about the incident, saying they did not see or hear anything.
One is hospitalised locally after being discharged from a Paramaribo hospital. Another is at home after medical personnel in Suriname refused to remove a bullet from his foot. Sources say the men were forced to come home after being unable to pay the high medical bills in the neighbouring country.
This publication on Friday tried to speak with survivors, but they have all asked not to be part of any media story on the piracy attack. (Vahnu Manikchand)