Billy Irving to stage hunger strike ahead of tomorrows #Chennai6 protest in London
A former soldier wrongly imprisoned in India alongside five colleagues will stage a hunger strike as relatives make a peaceful protest outside the Indian High Commission in London tomorrow.
Billy Irving, 37, from Connel, near Oban, was working as an anti-piracy security guard in the Indian Ocean before being jailed for five years last January for possession of illegal weapons. Relatives of the Chennai Six hope members of the public will join them at the protest in London. The six ex-servicemen were held in October 2013 while working on the American-owned MV Seaman Guard Ohio.They entered Indian waters to refuel but the local authorities accused them of not having the correct permits to carry firearms despite their paperwork, which had been issued by the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), being in order.
A judge ignored their pleas of innocence and sentenced them and all 29 other men on board to five years in jail. It has been more than 125 days since the appeal was heard in court and still the judge has yet to make a decision. The families, friends and supporters will this Friday be calling on the British and Indian authorities to not forget the men and to press for a verdict on the appeal and the release of their loved ones.
The men are staging their own protest in the form of a hunger strike in prison. The Brits will be joined by the Estonian and Ukrainian nationals who are wrongly incarcerated alongside them in a hunger strike. This is the only way they feel they can have their voices heard while in prison. Their UK-based lawyer Stephen Askins said: “They were armed guards backed by the international community as a successful answer to Somali piracy. Weapons go in and out of India on commercial ships all the time to protect the world’s crews from hijacking.
“It has never been clear why the authorities took exception to these men and the courts have shown a complete misunderstanding of international law.
“The Chennai 6 are at the wrong end of poor judgement and a miscarriage of justice. The Indians have made their point – it is now time for the men to come home.”
There will be a peaceful protest for the #Chennai6 at the High Commission of India in London U.K. tomorrow on Friday 16th June. As part of the planned protest, they have been invited to join a huge number of Paratroopers in their parade for Cpl McLaughlin starting at 11am in Whitehall Place. The Itinerary for the day will be as follows: 1100 - Form Up With The Cpl Mclaughlin March (Whitehall Place) 1200 - Cpl Stewart Mclaughlin March Begins 1330 - Make Our Way To The Indian Embassy (WC2B 4NA) 1345 - Speeches Delivered By The Families Of The Chennai6 1415 - Petition & Letters To Be Handed Over At India House 1430 - Finish
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