GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tuesday June 26, 2018 – Tuesday was a National Day of Mourning for the more than a dozen fishermen who were killed in pirate attacks in neighbouring Suriname.
The Guyana flag flew at half-staff the entire day to demonstrate solidarity with the families of those killed in the grisly and gruesome acts and to accord due homage, respect and reverence to the memory of the victims.
During the April 27 to May 3 incidents, five boats with 25 crew members were brutally attacked. Nine people survived the ordeal and four bodies were recovered, while 12 men remain missing and are feared dead.
Many of the relatives of the fishermen expressed appreciation that the day had been set aside in honour of the slain men, saying they found comfort in the fact that the entire nation was in solidarity with them on that day.
“I am happy the government declared the day of mourning because these men were hardworking people and have contributed to both countries and their families, and they deserve to be remembered and recognized and I am glad that the whole country will be mourning with us,” said Arti Sarjoo the sister of victim Mahese Sarjoo.
Arti, who is based in Suriname, travelled to the Guyana Embassy in the capital, Paramaribo, where a prayer service was held in honour of the men.
Tarmattie Ibrahim, the wife of another victim – boat captain and father of two Danesh Persaud – also planned to take a similar trip.
“I am glad they’re doing this because at least we know they have not forgotten and will make sure the matter does not die,” she said.
Dian Singh, daughter-in-law of one of the victims, Ramesh Sanchara, said the day of mourning was a fitting tribute to the men and their relatives who had to endure quite a lot since the incident.
The Romeina, captained by Deonarine Goberdan who survived the incident, is believed to have been the first boat attacked sometime around 6:30 p.m. on April 27. The father of 17 said he drifted for 22 hours until he reached land and notified the police.
The bodies of two of his crew members washed ashore and were positively identified as Tillacknauth Mohabir, and Mahesh Sarjoo. The Romeina is still missing and is believed to have been taken away by pirates.
The Joshua, meantime, was found submerged in water, allegedly sunk by the pirates after they launched their attack. The captain of the vessel was the lone survivor and has since gone into hiding, fearing for his life.
The name of the third boat is unknown, but it had five persons on board.
The last boat believed to be attacked was the Shifanie, captained by 27-year-old father of two, Persaud.
The Guyana government has intensified its counter-piracy activities in Guyana, in light of the deadly piracy attacks and has committed to a recapitalization of Guyana Coast Guard and deployment of additional resources.