12 October 2017
HUMAN RIGHTS AT SEA PUBLISHES NEW FAMILY IMPACT STATEMENT FROM THE FAMILIES OF THE CHENNAI 6
It is exactly four years to the day since 35 men (including the Chennai 6 – all ex UK servicemen) being the crew and maritime security operators on board the patrol vessel the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, were detained in India (12 October 2013).
The men, whose job was to protect commercial vessels from pirates in the Indian Ocean, have now been held far longer than any hostage held off Somalia.
In January 2016 they were convicted of offences relating to the importation of their weapons into Indian territorial waters when the vessel went to refuel. The Chennai 6, the Ukrainian captain and other Estonian and Indian guards and crew were sentenced to 5 years in prison. The anniversary of their fourth year in India will be spent in Chennai Central Prison waiting the results of an Appeal that was heard in November 2016.
October 12th represents 1,461 days since their original arrest will be marked with a petition signed by 405,000 people being delivered to Downing Street.
The Chennai 6 are: Billy Irving, John Armstrong, Nick Dunn, Nick Simpson, Paul Towers, Ray Tindall.
Today, in support of the families of all those detained, Human Rights at Sea publishes the Family Impact Statement of Yvonne MacHugh, the finance of Billy Irving.
This is her story.
“My name is Yvonne MacHugh and my fiancée Billy Irving is a veteran of the Parachute Regiment of the British Forces. He served nearly 10 years in the Army with the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment. He served tours in two tours of Iraq and three tours of Afghanistan.
Billy left the armed forces and went on to pursue a career in the private maritime security industry.
4 years ago I arrived in India and stood in the blistering heat for 6 hours outside the gates of Puzhal Prison waiting for my Billy to finally be free and the injustice to end. Watching all those men walk free was the most humbling experience of my life. It put everything into perspective and helped me to appreciate the smallest things in life so much more. I spent the next few months in India with Billy. We had lost everything back home, but we had each other again. With not a care in the world we made sure we made the most of every single second we had together. We knew that in a few weeks time he’d be free and we could return home together and live the life we’d always dreamed of, the life we had before this horrific case took over our lives. It was never going to be that straight forward and our lives would never be the same again.
This is our story, a story I only thought belonged in Hollywood movies . The past 4 years has been a living nightmare. What we have endured and faced I never believed possible.”