Appalled Relatives Step Up Chennai Six Campaign
Relatives of the six British veterans imprisoned in India are marking the fourth anniversary of the mens' arrest from the Seaman Guard Ohio by stepping up the campaign to free them.
The families will be lobbying British MPs on Thursday, October 12, and will also hand in a petition to 10 Downing Street demanding the Government do more to secure their release.
The men were working on the anti-piracy vessel to protect shipping from Somalian pirates in 2013 when they were detained by the Indian coastguard which accused them of carrying firearms without permits.
Their paperwork - issued by the British Government - was in order, yet a judge still convicted them and sentenced them in 2016 to five years in a violent, overcrowded prison.
The legal case for the six, along with the other 29 men on board who are also in jail, has come to a standstill. They filed an appeal against their conviction in February 2016; it was heard in court in November 2016 at which point the judge reserved orders. The judge has still not released his judgment on the appeal, meaning the crew and their families have been waiting every day since November 2016 to hear something.
The Chennai Six are: John Armstrong, 30, of Wigton, Cumbria, a former member of 3 Para; Nick Dunn, 31, of Ashington, Northumberland, a former member of 1 Para; Billy Irving, 37, of Oban, Scotland, a former member of 1 Para; Nicholas Simpson, 47, of Catterick, North Yorkshire, a former Sergeant Major in the 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment; Ray Tindall, 42, of Chester, who served with the 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment and the Welsh Guards; Paul Towers, 54, of Pocklington, East Yorkshire, a former member of 1 Para.
The campaign to overturn what the families say is an “appalling miscarriage of justice” has had the support of Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Joanna Lumley, the cast of Emmerdale and Coronation Street legends Charlie Lawson (who played Jim McDonald) and Simon Gregson (Steve McDonald).
Emmerdale actor John Bowe, who plays Lawrence White, said: "This is a monumental cock-up - a tragic misunderstanding by the Indian authorities."
MPs from all the men's constituencies will be present at the lobby along with family members. Billy Irving's son William, two, who he is yet to spend a day at home with, and John Armstrong's nephew Josh Thomlinson, five, who has not seen his uncle in over four years, will deliver the petition containing 405,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street.
Yvonne MacHugh, fiancee of Billy Irving spoke to The Maritime Executive about what conditions are like for the men here.
Lisa Dunn, sister of Nick Dunn, has spoken out on the impact her brother's on-going detention in India has had on her family here.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.