Friday, September 10, 2021

Crew Freed from Gaol After Intervention by Maritime Charity

Six Months in Iranian Prison Without Charge
Shipping News Feature

IRAN – INDIA – Finally the ordeal for five Indian crew, wrongly imprisoned in Iran for six months is over thanks to the intervention of the Sailors' Society. The men were apparently arrested by the Iranian Coastguard and accused of transporting illegal oil.

The men had served aboard the 41 year old, Tanzanian flagged MT Manaman 8 and were simply abandoned by their employers and captain after their arrest in early March. The 870dwt ship was reportedly operated by the Arabian Sun Inc. of the UAE. At first the men had no way of contacting their families with at least one hired by an agent in India who, having taken what was said to be an exorbitant fee for the appointment, refused to answer any questions as to the man’s whereabouts. Eventually one man’s father found where his son was and contacted other families.

Despite the attendance of Indian Embassy staff the matter stagnated until July 29 when the crew were briefly released, only to be rearrested almost immediately as there was nobody, the ship owner, his representative or any shipping agent present to receive or fund them them and make the necessary arrangements for their repatriation to India.

The maritime charity had by this time already been pleading the mens case in the person of Sailors' Society's India community development manager Manoj Joy, working in conjunction with the Indian Embassy and the charity’s contact in the Middle East, Shaheen Sayyed.

Having been abandoned by their employer, who had not paid them any wages for several months, the crewmen were unable to leave until the Sailors’ Society stepped in to organise their release and repatriation, as well as coordinating with maritime partners The Seafarers’ Charity, Stella Maris and the Mission to Seafarers to jointly fund the costs of their homeward journeys. Sara Baade, CEO, Sailors' Society said:

"We're honoured to have helped the MT Manaman 8 crew and are so delighted that they are finally home safe and sound with their families. Our team has worked hard alongside Shaheen Sayyed to support them and secure their release and we are grateful to our charity partners for helping us to fund their return journeys. We will continue to be there for the crew as they recover from their ordeal. Sadly, we have seen other cases similar to this and urge any seafarers who find themselves in difficulty to contact us."

Deepak Ravi was one of the men detained, supported by his mother Sherly who pestered the authorities having no news of her missing son for the first three weeks. Deepak said:

“I'd been on board MT Manaman 8 for 16 months when we were arrested and put behind bars by the Iranian Coastguard. From the prison, we contacted several people to help us but unfortunately we did not receive any support. It was only after Manoj got involved that things started to move in a positive direction and we had hope."

Sherly Ravi said she actually had been relieved when she eventually found he was in prison as she had feared the worst, and that what had started as a dream job had shattered them and caused both physical and mental anguish, thanking God for the services of the charity. First time sailor and crewman Dheerendra summed up his experience thus:

“It was my first voyage and I was thoroughly enjoying my job. My enjoyment was short-lived though, as eight months in we were arrested and sent to prison. It was Sailors' Society who came to our rescue. On behalf of my colleagues, I thank Sailors' Society for saving our lives. We will never forget Sailors' Society for this help and I am very happy to be back home with my family."

Photo: The freed men on return home to India.