Families of imprisoned sailors plan rally ahead of government meeting

Nick Dunn.
Nick Dunn.

Campaigners fighting to free six detained sailors, including one from Ashington, are holding a rally tomorrow (Tuesday).

Families of the six being imprisoned in India are appealing for supporters to join them during the rally in Carlisle.

The sailors, including Nick Dunn, were part of the Seaman Guard Ohio crew arrested in October 2013 on possession of firearm charges, being sentenced to five years in prison earlier this year despite one judge throwing out the case.

A meeting has been planned with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister Hugo Swire MP to call on the UK government to assist them to bring pressure on the Indian Authorities, and support them to bring the men home.

Lisa Dunn, Nick’s sister, said: “The devastating impact this ordeal has had and is currently having on our whole family is indescribable and completely incomprehensible.

“This has consumed our lives for the last 31 months, and we never believed it could ever unfold in a result of a guilty verdict.

“The meeting we have with Minister Swire and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is vitally important and gives us, the families, the opportunity to stand united and show that we will not accept this verdict.

“We are the voices of the men and our men deserve to know what steps are in place now with the British Government to help overturn this horrific miscarriage of justice.”

The Revd Canon Ken Peters, Director of Justice and Public Affairs, The Mission to Seafarers, who has been supporting the British families involved in this case since the men were first arrested, said: “This human tragedy drags on and the toll on the men and their families is devastating.

“I admire the amazing resilience of the men as they try to cope with the situation they are in, even though innocent in both intent and action.

“They were protecting otherwise defenceless seafarers from pirate attack and yet are unreasonably detained because of a complete lack of understanding as to the safety they were offering.

“The families are distraught with worry and are frustrated by the slow pace and lack of progress in the legal proceedings.”

The rally will be held at Carlisle Scotch Street, leaving from outside the Debenhams department store at 11am. After a short walk to the Halston Hotel the families will meet with the FCO at 1pm.

The families have relaunched a petition which will be handed to Prime Minister David Cameron calling on help for the men and which has now been signed by around 350,000 people – www.change.org/p/british-foreign-secretary-free-the-6-british-ex-soldiers-from-indian-jail

The families have so far raised over £33,000 but hope to raise more as the legal battle continues. People can donate at www.justgiving.com/freesgo6/