Journalist Amanda Lindhout, Captive 15 Months In Somalia, Speaks Out ; Retired British Couple Still Captive There

wklindhout0222_499101gm-aAmanda Lindhout, a Canadian journalist held captive in Somalia for 15 months, spoke out this weekend for the first time — at a dinner held in Calgary in her honor by the Somali community.

Last November, Mr. Brennan and Ms. Lindhout were freed for a ransom that has been reported at anywhere from $500,000 to $1-million.

Ms. Lindhout has not spoken publicly about her ordeal beyond a statement before Christmas that thanked those who helped her.

The journalist revealed little more on Sunday about the more than 15 months she spent in captivity. Ms. Lindhout paid tribute to a Somali woman whom she said risked her life in an attempt to free her.

“Her courage is a stunning example of one human being’s instinct to protect another. She did not know me, yet she called me her sister,” she said.

“And while she was ultimately not able to save me, she did touch my life in a profound way that I will never forget.”

Ms. Lindhout remained composed throughout her speech, but wept as she watched a video put together by the Somali community thanking her for her bravery.

Several other speakers said that most of those who live in the country are without a voice and that atrocities will continue unless people follow Ms. Lindhout’s path in trying to tell their stories.

“Though Amanda has gone through an unbearable situation, she has gathered the strength to be here with us tonight,” said Mudhir Mohamed. “So in our eyes she’s a hero.”

For retired British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler, there’s still no hope of release — they and their private sailboat were kidnapped off the Somali coast in October 2009.

Reports the Daily Mail:

‘We can’t wait more than this because it is becoming too expensive to hold these people. By March, they have to decide or we will be done with them.’…[said one of the kidnappers recently.]…

While sailing in the Indian Ocean close to the Seychelles, their 38ft yacht Lynn Rival was boarded by pirates brandishing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers on October 23.

They were taken to the gang’s mother ship, a huge container carrier  –  itself hijacked  –  called Kota Wajar, and then to their lair, the city of Haradheere, 1,000 miles away on the Horn of Africa.

The Chandlers had managed to send out a distress signal, which was picked up by a nearby vessel of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service carrying at least ten Royal Marine commandos, plus an armed helicopter.

British Somalis are fed up and ashamed, reports the BBC:

The couple’s plight has prompted a series of displays of solidarity from the UK Somali community, whose numbers were estimated at 101,000 in 2008 but which some observers believe could number as many as 250,000.

Hundreds [recently attended] a public meeting on Sunday in Camden, north London, called by community leaders in support of the couple.

Somalis in Bristol have already launched their own campaign, when a large crowd gathered to witness the unfurling of a banner in support of the couple outside the Al Baseera mosque in the city’s St Jude’s area.

Kayse Maxamed, 39, editor of the Bristol-based Somali Voice newspaper, has spoken out about the plight of the Chandlers on the radio in the US and Africa.

He believes Somalis in the UK owe a debt of gratitude to the country which has given so many of them shelter from war and violence.

“The Somali community is very angry,” he says. “We feel we have to do something.

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