Whatsapp diplomacy saves SL crew: Harsha

2017-03-17 17:22:11

The use of Whatsapp and connections made through American diplomats ensured the safety and release of the eight-member Sri Lankan crew of the hijacked Aris-13, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Harsha de Silva said today.

The hijacked vessel and its Sri Lankan crew were released by Somali pirates on March 17 without any ransom payment.

At a media briefing soon after the release came to be confirmed, Dr. de Silva thanked diplomats of various countries, especially the US, naval officers and institutions which supported the Sri Lankan government during time of need.

He said the American Embassy had helped the SL Government get in touch with Puntland President's Chief of Staff Abdinasir Sofe,  who in turn had ordered the country’s navy to stop shooting at the ship and move aside to allow discussions between the pirates and the owners of the vessel.

“This is a semi-autonomous region that we have no diplomatic ties with. We were grateful to have come in contact with the President, who had authority over the navy which was shooting in the general direction of the vessel,” Dr. de Silva said.

He said the Puntland Navy was not firing at the ship but at the logistical boats in the vicinity. “We are not sure what prompted them to do so, but we are grateful for the results of the discussions we had with the President's Chief of Staff, Abdinasir Sofe,” Dr. de Silva said.

The ship and its crew were now safely on its way to Bossoa, the commercial capital of Puntland, where the crew would be treated for injuries and sent on their way.

When questioned about when the crew would arrive in the country, he said he was unsure of the crew’s future plans. “We have done everything necessary as a government. It is the decision of the crew and the owners of the vessel as to what they will do now. We will of course intervene if the crew has issues applying for visa’s to return home,” Dr. de Silva said and added that he was kept appraised of the situation on the Whatsapp messenger service. Messages exchanged with the President of Puntland prior to the news briefing ensured the safety and release of the crew.

General Operations Director Dharmendra Weetawa, who was also present at the briefing said, the situation led the Navy to appoint a permanent representative at the Combined Naval Forces Headquarters.

It was they who provided surveillance during the situation and provided updates every three hours, of the situation on-board the vessel. “We have officers stationed there for various reasons, but we have decided to appoint a representative for Sri Lanka as we have the need for it now,” he said.

Naval relations in the area was not fully developed in the area, but the Navy had received necessary backing in the time of need. Rear Admiral Wettawa said the owners of the vessel had not taken the necessary precautions when sailing in such dangerous seas.

Meanwhile, family members of the crew who were also present at the briefing thanked the government and other officials who had done everything in their power to rescue the sailors and ensure their safe return. (Nabeela Hussain)

  Comments - 30

  • Rajiv Friday, 17 March 2017 19:11

    Good work by Dr. Harsha, FM Team and all others involved. This goes to show how the Govt can work silently.

    Reply : 14       44

    Yehiya Saturday, 18 March 2017 08:32

    Silent bullet. This is expecting from professional politicians.

    Reply : 1       9

    Thanos Friday, 17 March 2017 20:40

    Thank you to all those who helped!

    Reply : 5       33

    Nuam Friday, 17 March 2017 21:03

    Wonderful very well appreciated. via DM Android App

    Reply : 7       22

    Nuam Friday, 17 March 2017 21:04

    waiting for JO s comments. via DM Android App

    Reply : 16       13

    Bala Friday, 17 March 2017 22:18

    What about Avant Garde Senadipathy trying to show hiss bgness aand fish in trroubled waters.

    Reply : 1       2

    Avisenna Friday, 17 March 2017 21:13

    Great news bless them all. stories does not fit it does not matter lives are spared. via DM Android App

    Reply : 0       0

    Saviour Harsha Iron Man Friday, 17 March 2017 21:57

    Hon. Minister Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Harsha de Silva never in the history of SriLankan Politician have not done this in the past. Thanks a million Sir.... we are with you and we are with UNP forever.

    Reply : 19       17

    Ravi Gunwardane Saturday, 18 March 2017 05:11

    Bull $hit. I challenge Daily mirror to publish this---- But I doubt it.He is trying get the credit for something he did not do- typical politcian. Where is your ethics Dr. Who or can I say Mr. Volkswagon? Somali pirates released the ship for the reason given below. Please read.Following from aljazeerahere is the link"But the pirates said they agreed to forgo a ransom after learning that Somali businessmen had hired the ship, which was taking oil from Djibouti to the Somali capital of Mogadishu.Pirates have traditionally been wary of getting into disputes with Somalia's powerful businessmen."

    Reply : 3       14

    German Jacob Friday, 17 March 2017 21:59

    Only educated and wise people knows how to handle any matters wisely, thanks to Hon. Deputy Minister Harsha.

    Reply : 15       20

    Desmond Jeromme Friday, 17 March 2017 22:00

    Never in the History Sir..... thanks a million.

    Reply : 14       19

    Booruwa Friday, 17 March 2017 22:02

    Thank the British government and diplomacy for posting ex-British servicemen, SAS officers who work as negotiators or eliminators of pirates and not the US.

    Reply : 1       2

    JO Supporter Saturday, 18 March 2017 01:19

    What a load of horsesh!t. If u actually believe this ur braindead and a shill.

    Reply : 1       5

    Siva Lokanathan Saturday, 18 March 2017 06:28

    Thank you Dr, de Silva fir the quick and fine manner that you and the others tackled the matter. So happy that you use the word "we" and not "I".

    Reply : 3       2

    Nick Saturday, 18 March 2017 07:11

    lots of people are trying to get reward for the release while the real heros keeping themself silence via DM Android App

    Reply : 0       4

    Yehiya Saturday, 18 March 2017 08:40

    Minister Mangala never be a professor , not even academic qualification. Transparency

    Reply : 1       4

    Dammika Saturday, 18 March 2017 08:43

    Known people are aware how many political crooks tried to take advantage from this serious situation for their own benefits. This clearly shows we need everyone ... each other in this world.

    Reply : 1       1

    JAN Saturday, 18 March 2017 09:19

    Am a Seaman with 40 Yrs of service now am retired and been to heavily Pirate infested area for past 15yrs Its PUTLANDAFRICAN Anti Terrorist Units who saved lives of THOUSANDS for past 15yrs Now our unpopular MPs want to add credits to them Even Anti Terrorist units not knowing our MPs Exist They act efficiently smoothly to free All of Seafarers without fear via DM Android App

    Reply : 0       4

    palle Saturday, 18 March 2017 09:27

    But the pirates said they agreed to forego a ransom after learning that Somali businessmen had hired the ship, which was taking oil from Djibouti to the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Pirates have traditionally been wary of tangling with Somalia's powerful businessmen. "After we came to know that the Somali traders hired the oil tanker, we released it without a ransom," pirate Abdullahi told Reuters. - See more at:

    Reply : 0       9

    JAN Saturday, 18 March 2017 09:48

    Gulf of EDEN Pirates invested area to protect from pirates Thousands of ships moving in and around EuropeAfrican formed Anti Pirate Units to save ships from pirate for last 15 Yrs They have saved lives of THOUSANDS thats there job They even dont know our MPs Once they got message.involving Hijack of a vessel They swiftly efficiently counter attack and rescuing crew N ship via DM Android App

    Reply : 1       2

    Allen Saturday, 18 March 2017 10:11

    What about this report from Reuters?"A pirate confirmed the release was made without a ransom payment. In previous hijackings, many crews remained in captivity for years before a ransom was paid. Eight Iranians are still being held.But the pirates said they agreed to forego a ransom after learning that Somali businessmen had hired the ship, which was taking oil from Djibouti to the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Pirates have traditionally been wary of tangling with Somalia’s powerful businessmen.“After we came to know that the Somali traders hired the oil tanker, we released it without a ransom,” pirate Abdullahi told Reuters."

    Reply : 0       7

    OMG Saturday, 18 March 2017 10:43


    Reply : 7       3

    Nihal Amarasekera Saturday, 18 March 2017 10:50

    WhatsUP JO?

    Reply : 5       0

    Citizen Perera Saturday, 18 March 2017 11:18

    Number of TV media institutions were trying to get the credit competing each other for this unfortunate incident.

    Reply : 0       3

    jith Saturday, 18 March 2017 12:09

    Listen to the BBC. It said one reason for the pirates to commence hijacking was the drop in guard, namely armed professional guards on board. Perhaps, government should admit that they were de-facto party to this fiasco by dismantling a functional, very effective on-board security service. This is law of gravity,what goes up should come down.

    Reply : 1       3

    Nirmal Thenuwara Saturday, 18 March 2017 13:11

    Read international news regarding this matter. Pirates decided to free the crew and the ship because they realised it's hired by a Somali businessman.

    Reply : 0       8

    Saman Saturday, 18 March 2017 13:53

    Thanks to the Combined Maritime Forces Teams at Bahrain!

    Reply : 1       4

    Ryan Saturday, 18 March 2017 15:10

    Can Harsha De Silva and Rest Of Corruptions Save Siri Lanka From The Threat Of SAITMNoGMOA and IUSF Must Be Brought To Power With Aide Of MahindaThen No PirateOnly Medical

    Reply : 0       1

    JAN Saturday, 18 March 2017 17:25

    HARSHA can you stop or give evidence against CBAM or criticized who looted our Country economy please do it today via DM Android App

    Reply : 0       2

    Michael Saturday, 18 March 2017 19:26

    Pirates of the World be w a r n e d--- Don't tangle with Sri Lankans

    Reply : 0       0

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