May 03, 2018 News
Five days after pirates attacked four fishing boats off Suriname waters throwing 20 crewmen overboard, the bodies have started to surface, confirming the fears of desperate Guyanese families who are awaiting news.
Of the 20, four, including a captain, managed to escape what they say was certain death.
Yesterday, one body was sighted from air, in the afternoon, in the vicinity of the attack at Wia Wia Bank area, about 40 miles from Paramaribo, near French Guiana. Two more were later spotted.
In Guyana, as a result of intelligence shared with Surinamese authorities, a hunt was on for several men believed to be linked to the killer gang.
Several Guyanese families, who received news that their loved ones had gone missing as a result of the attack on Friday night, have journeyed to that neighbouring country in the hopes of receiving good news.
According to Willem Mohamed Hosein, Chairman of Visserscollectief, a fishing organization in Suriname, three bodies have now been spotted by a helicopter search party along the Suriname shores. The Coast Guards have since been deployed to the location with the hopes that it could be recovered.
Assistant Commissioner and Guyana’s Crime Chief (ag), Paul Williams has confirmed that ‘B’ Division police, in Berbice, are currently on the hunt for suspects. Their names have been given to the Surinamese police as ‘Dick’, ‘Bolo’, ‘Sanbat’ and ‘Crack Head’- said to be known in Guyana as pirates.
Williams would, however, only say that information that was received yesterday include some names of the alleged suspects, which led to an ongoing manhunt.
Kaieteur News has also learnt that one of the alleged suspect commonly known as “Crackhead” is attached to the Rosignol Fisheremen’s Co-operative.
He was recently seen working at the location, a fisherman confirmed as well.
Meanwhile, relatives of some of the missing fishermen are accepting the reality that their loved one might not have survived the horrific incident. Some of them added that they are just hopeful for the bodies to be recovered so that they may have a decent burial.
A cousin of Ralph ‘Burnham’ Couchman, 22, of Lord Street, No.2 Village, East Canje, Berbice said that she received a message on Saturday stating that there was a piracy attack on four boats and that her cousin was missing.
She added that Couchman left for sea approximately a month ago and that it is a norm for him to go back and forth to Suriname to work on fishing boats. He was expected to spend three months and return to Guyana as he usually would.
“I think the boss man he was working with suppose to be going out and looking because at the end of the day these are his workmen that bring some bread on his table as well,” she said. She added that worry has since taken over with news that a body has been spotted. It was also stated that Couchman only began working with the said “boss man” just over a year ago.
“My cousin is only 22; he doesn’t have a family as yet. Now is when he is starting his life and something like this just happen. It’s a job he is doing; he is not stealing and to know that these young lives going down the drain and nobody is doing anything about it”, the woman lamented.
The missing fisherman’s grandmother, Doris Harrihar, 75, said that her grandson was very helpful. Whenever he returns to Guyana, he would assist her financially.
Another fisherman from Guyanese soil has also been identified as Bharrat Heralall. His daughter Lisa Heralall, explained that her father has been going back and forth to Suriname as a fisherman for over 20 years. On this trip, he left in January to work with Ramesh Sanchara aka ‘Ravo’ the boat captain of their fishing vessel. He is also among the missing.
She said she believes that her father risked his life for his fellow fishermen, since “he was a man like that”.
Lisa also said that they are “just hoping that we get the body to get him a decent funeral”.
A relative of Joshua Glenroy Jones, said in a Facebook post that he has lost hope “in finding my brother” but went on to add, “We need his body, we need to bury him; he was loved. When we were begging for a helicopter to go and search for our loved one y’all didn’t go because y’all said y’all don’t have money”.
Government has activated its mechanism of cooperation with Suriname.
Speaking from Suriname yesterday, Ambassador Keith George, disclosed that information has been passed to authorities in Guyana with regards to the shocking incident.
He met with a number of families yesterday.
While not immediately releasing names of the confirmed missing men, the ambassador noted that the operations were made harder by the fact that there is sort of “itinerant” situation with fishermen between the two countries.
Guyanese would travel to Suriname, hop on a boat if they are short of workers without any need for documents. Call names would suffice.
What is known is that 15 of the 16 men that are missing are Guyanese, the Ambassador confirmed.
A number of the fishermen were said to be living between Guyana and Suriname for years.
In Guyana, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) said it remains gravely concerned about the matter.
“This is a tragedy and we empathize with the families, who continue to be in anguish given the state of affairs. The horror that reportedly unfolded once again highlights the danger that our country’s fisher folk face every day to earn their livelihoods and to provide for their families.”
The party called on Government to make every effort and take urgent steps to ensure that fishermen are found.
“In addition, our party urges the government to ensure that the families are kept informed of the efforts being made. We hope for a swift resolution of the situation and that the families can be comforted during their time of distress.”
The names of the missing Guyanese fisherman are were given as Bharrat Heralall, Bobby Ibrahim, Ralph ‘Burnham’ Couchman, Ganesh ‘Vicky’ Persaud, Joshua Glenroy Jones, Randy Burnette, Ramnarine Singh and Ramesh Sanichar.
On Friday evening, the pirates attacked the ‘Romina’, a Guyanese-owned boat, chopping workers and throwing them overboard. A number of the crewmen had batteries attached to their legs to sink them.
The attack was swift with the intent clear- the pirates came to kill. Men were seen being beaten with pieces of wood while treading water in the Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and French Guiana.
Four men, badly wounded, among them the captain of the Romina, made it to shore.
The Suriname police only received reports of the incident on Saturday night.
The difficulty in alerting Guyana was compounded by the fact that Guyanese fishermen in Suriname are not closely regulated.
Of the four boats, the Romina remains missing. One was sunk by the pirates.
The incident would be one of the worse cases of pirate attacks in recent years.
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