Indian Government: Free the AdvanFort seafarers (guards and crew)

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Oksana Semenova
7 years ago
John Armstrong‎Call for quick release of international crew of 35 held in India,Tamil Nadu
8 января в 13:12 ·
A letter we are sending to various agencies.
I am writing to you regarding the AdvanFort MV Seaman Guard OHIO incident that took place last October 2013 near the coast of India Tamil Nadu’s state, presumably you are aware of the situation as it has had media coverage in India and in the United Kingdom, up to this day the whole process is still ongoing when considering that the charges against all men were quashed. What do I mean by the process is still ongoing, although charges are quashed; we are still unable to leave the country as the Local Police of Tamil Nadu Q-Branch hasn’t issued us the non-objection letter. To this day there hasn’t been a sign that this will happen because of their unclear motives with this case and we believe that we are deliberately being held in this position by Q-Branch.
We have been through tough times and went through the Indian prison and legal system, when considering that all of the men are innocent and it wasn’t their fault in the situation they ended up.
I’m not contacting your entity on behalf of AdvanFort, but behalf of the 35 men and their families who have been pushed into situation without their own free will and with no clear end to be seen to this. I can assure you that our motives have never been to threaten the country of India as we were honest and hardworking maritime security operatives who were assisting to protect commercial vessels against Somalian pirates. We cannot be made accountable for any doings of the company. As I said earlier we are innocent and our charges were even quashed in Madurai High-Court, but for unknown reasons we are still stuck here as the prosecuting side (Q-Branch) is for unknown motives still keeping us in India, preventing us from going home to be with our families who are desperately waiting for us.
The reason for writing this letter is that we are seeking help to return back home, when considering all from the beginning what we have went through, we feel and have developed a strong understanding that we have become a soft target for the Tamil Nadu police Q-Branch who is openly seeking to convict us using any means possible. Although the court quashed the charges, the final decision whether we can leave or no was pushed onto Tamil Nadu Q-Branch hands. In general they are the entity who was responsible for conducting our investigation, interrogation, arrest, detaining in prison, formalizing the charges and in the end is the prosecuting side –by common sense, we can’t see that an entity/person/authority who is seeking to convict a certain person or a group of persons should give up their agenda, when considering that by law they can still influence the whole process and even make the chosen targets suffer more. We feel that the right for the
Q-Branch to decide whether we can leave or no, is against our human rights, we don’t see the separation of power (basically a side who started the “conviction” process is in the end given again the possibility to decide the faith of those people who he seeks to convict) in our situation.
Court quashed our charges, when considering the magnitude of the case Q-Branch by law received the power to issue no-objection letter (no specific time frame given when this letter should be issued), prosecution may appeal the decision in 90-days, but even if the decision is appealed or not still we wouldn’t be able to leave because a certain authority with unknown motives and the power not to give a reasonable explanation for their actions, can keep us here until they see fit.
The second problem with above is that although prosecution has 90 days to appeal the High-Court decision, there is no law that says that we have to be in India during this time, but at the moment we can see that we are forcibly made to wait this 90-days in India.
We have a lawyer but even she has reached a point where she cannot get us back home, because laws are discussed in courts, but right now were are not in court and the lawyer is unable to get us back home.
Additionally we want to highlight our other concerns regarding this whole case; Since from the beginning of the incident we have been heavily branded as terrorist who posed a risk to Indian security – which we are not, we have helped even to protect people of India and ships waiving Indian flags sailing through Gulf of Aden and High-Risk Area defined by BMP4 · During our arrest with threats and without translator we were forced to sign paperwork – up to this day we don’t know what we signed. A British citizen had medical issues in the prison and the prison authorities delayed to take him to the hospital and made him suffer for over 72 Hours, also his family members weren’t notified immediately about his medical condition.
Besides for unknown motives not issuing the No-Objection Letter, Q-Branch used questionable methods to influence the hotel management who in the end started to harass us to take over the hotel accommodation debt which was made by AdvanFort. Up to this day we haven’t received any salary since November and we don’t have any means to survive and provide for ourselves and to our families.
We currently have an application in at the High court of Madras as the magistrate court in Tuticorin defied the high court quash and dismissed our petition for return of our passports,belongings and bail money, even though we are no longer on bail! The petition was given in a few months ago but still We have not even had a hearing posted.
Also while this is going on the slp in the supreme court has not had any hearings still.
Up to the last 3 weeks the UK foreign office was unaware that NO stay order has been placed on our quash at high court. Our status from the 10/07/2014 to today 08/07/2015 is that of free men cleared of all charges.
All of our request for help has fallen on deaf ears from our government as they do not even know that we are free men.
We have also sought for help from the National Human Rights Comission in Delhi which was then later referred to the state human rights comission of Tamil Nadu, this also has just fallen on deaf ears.
Our Lawyers opinion is that our case is heavily influenced by politics and without our governments help all 23 foreign nationals will be stuck in India for a very long time.
The fact that we can not even argue our case in any court in the land as we are not even given a hearing backs that opinion up.
We turn to you to seek assistance and closely monitor this situation and provide us with support and means to secure our return to our families. We feel that our human rights are being trampled on and we cannot return home because a certain authority may have a grudge against innocent men who didn’t want to be in this situation in the first place. We feel broken by the fact that a certain Indian entity that carries the badge of justice is allowed to use questionable methods and ethics to select and target us when considering we are innocent. This whole situation has been dramatic and devastating for all of the men and their families because a witch hunt was started and it’s still ongoing, we hope for your entities support in this situation.
Best Regards,
John Armstrong
British citizen and a maritime security operative cleared from charges in India.

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Hein Bester
7 years ago
Putting men doing honest work in jail,and then leaving them there for who knows how long is wrong. Their families are now without a primary income.

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Ardi Niinepuu
7 years ago
I'm a former co worker for these men and I have spent my fare share on this same vessle my self, l just was luky to terminate my contract few weeks before this tragik event. There is not one day passyng buy when i don't think about my former colegs.

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Anne Moglia-Aan
7 years ago
Everybody needs to be in their home whene they want to do now a days!

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Indrek Habak
7 years ago
Oleks aeg koju jõuda...

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regor kreek
7 years ago
vennad koju tagasi!

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Barbara MULLIN
8 years ago
They were outside India's border when arrested.

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Scott Cramp
8 years ago
It's for my friend friends..

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Andrew Martin
8 years ago
I work in the same industry

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Sten Millend
8 years ago
Absurd situation ... which needs to end! Pinnacle of human stupidity shown by the Indian government.