Today, All Saints Day, the roads leading to the cemeteries were clogged as millions of Catholic Filipinos paid homage to their dear departed. Flowers were laid, candles lit and prayers recited. For many, it was also an occasion for a graveside family picnic. As we watched the spectacle, an odd blend of piety and merrymaking, an idea flashed in our mind: why not a memorial for those killed at sea by pirates? If the UN is erecting a new memorial for the victims of slavery, why not one for the victims of piracy?
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) can take a cue from the UN and launch a design competition for the memorial. Where the memorial will be located would be the subject of an international bidding involving IMO member states. To qualify, contending countries must show evidence that they have taken measures to combat piracy and not just talk about it – e.g., passage of national anti-piracy legislation, contribution to the allied naval effort against piracy or the institution of support programmes for seafarers killed or injured in piracy attacks and their families.
The number of victims of modern-day Somali-based piracy doesn’t compare with the millions of Africans who were violently plucked from their homelands and traded off and transported like cattle across the Atlantic. But surely, they, too, deserve to be remembered. The memorial will be a fitting reminder of their pain and suffering. It will also be a reminder of a problem that has festered because of the lack of forthright, unified action from the international community. ~Barista Uno