We are delighted to be able to provide the Story of Aman. Entitled "A Man Who Never Gives Up – Journey Of A Lifetime" this account of being a captive of pirates in Somalia is written in his own words and provides a unique story of the time he spent as a hostage.
MV Albedo, a Malaysian flag vessel with crew from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Iran was hijacked by Somali pirates on 26 November 2010 in the Indian Ocean. The pirates demanded ransom from the Iranian owner but the negotiations failed and the crew had to undergo a horrendous ordeal, staying in captivity for a long time. The seven Pakistani crew (including the captain) were released after a deal struck between a Pakistani NGO and the pirates, and the remaining the crew were left. The pirates shot one of the Indian seafarers due to a heated argument with the owner over failed negotiations.
The remaining crew were taken ashore from time to time in turn and made to live in the harshest of conditions, with poor quality food and rations. In the month of July 2013, the ship sank and four Sri Lankan seafarers were lost. The remaining seafarers - seven Bangladeshi, one Indian (Aman Kumar) and one Iranian - were taken onto land until their release from captivity on 6 June 2014.
Mr Aman Kumar joined this – his first - ship after paying some money to a local agent in order to get work at sea. He had completed his pre-sea course and was 19 years old at the time the ship was hijacked, so one of the youngest seaman onboard, but he displayed a lot of maturity, courage and strength during his captivity. Chirag Bahri, of ISWAN / MPHRP South Asia, said of Aman: "He led from the front when left in the hands of merciless pirates who would beat them brutally and who did not give them proper food. The crew's morale was lifted up due to Mr Kumar's good behaviour with his fellow crew and he created an atmosphere of trust and good relations. He interacted with the Somali pirates and learnt fluent Somali so as to communicate with them on the needs of the other crew members. This made life easier during captivity for all of them. During their escape, he showed a great sense of reliability and helped other crew who were in poor health to come along."
MPHRP South Asia was in regular contact with his family during the period of captivity and also assisted the family with financial support so his brother could get an education at college. The parents were invited to Mumbai and were provided with counselling from Dr Harish Shetty. The programme gave them moral and humanitarian support and kept them updated on news about their captured relative.
On release, the parents were invited to Mumbai again and they met with their son after four years of captivity. Mr Kumar was assisted with psychological support and with good financial support from industry and unions. The first thing Aman mentioned to Chirag Bahri on release was: "I will join shipping again after staying at home for a few months." When he declared his intention to go back to sea again, there was resistance by his family members, which is understandable, but Mr Kumar was confident that if he joined a good shipping company, such problems will not arise in future. He has done so and is now back at sea again.