Press release


March 31, 2010

President James Michel, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, has welcomed home the 6 Seychellois fisherman who were liberated by the patrol ship Topaz, which is commanded by Major Simon Laurencine.

President James Michel spoke with Joel Julienne, Francis Leon, Emmanuel Victorin, Richard Bossy, Roland Lablache and Antoine Basset, who all expressed their gratitude to the President, and the Coast Guard for their liberation.

“ I understand the suffering and trauma of the fishermen while they were being threatened by the pirates, as well as the families of the fishermen who were worried for them and prayed for their return. It was not easy for them, but today the people of Seychelles and I share in their joy and relief in seeing them all come home safe and sound,” said President Michel.

The Topaz arrived at 0800hrs in Port Victoria  this morning, and was met by the families of the Seychellois fishermen as well as Chairman of the High-Level Committee on Piracy Minister Joel Morgan, and the Minister for Community Development, Vincent Meriton, the Chief of Defence Forces Brigadier Leopold Payet, the Commissioner of Police, Ernest Quatre and several senior officers of the Armed Forces.

“ I congratulate Major Simon Laurencine and all the officers of the Topaz, the special forces Tazar unit, and the EU naval forces which participated in this mission. The Seychellois people are really proud of you today, not only because you liberated the Seychellois hostages but also because you are men in uniform who have the courage to go and protect our citizens in the fight against piracy. I believe we are the only country which has been able to succeed in such an operation and to rescue so many hostages and you did it in such a way that everyone came back safe and sound. Other forces have tried and lost lives during their operations,” said President Michel.

President James Michel added that the action to liberate the hostage was a strong effort to  defend Seychelles and that the Coast Guard would continue to find the pirates and deal with them.

“ The Somali pirates cannot take the Seychellois people hostage. We have work to do in this country, we have a country to develop.  We have sent a very powerful message to the pirates; that you don’t play around with Seychelles. We will deal with them wherever they are, with the capacity that is our disposal. We have shown the world community that we mean business; when Seychelles says it will do something , it will do it. We do it with courage and we do it with determination and we succeed.”

President James Michel said that Seychelles would continue to work towards increasing its capacity to fight piracy, and that Seychelles in discussions with its international partners to see what new equipment, boats  and surveillance resources could be acquired for this purpose.

“ Our waters are immense, the resources we have are not enough for us to be able to patrol our entire maritime territory. For this reasons, since the first pirate attack in our waters, I made an appeal to the international community, and today this community responded and has been helping us in our operations. We have been dealing with the piracy problem for one year now, and during that time we have trained our Coast Guard, with the cooperation of other naval forces, we have also trained our special forces, the ‘Tazar’ commando unit, and today they have succeeded in carrying out their dangerous yet effective mission,” said President Michel.

Following the rescue mission by the Topaz, the 21 Iranians who had been taken hostage by Somali pirates have also arrived safely in Seychelles. The 9 Somali pirates who were retrieved during the rescue operation have been arrested by the Seychelles Police.