LEGAL: Families of six soldiers deliver petition to Number 10 to mark 1,0000 days they have spent in Indian jail
Tomorrow (July 7) marks 1,000 days that six British ex-soldiers working on an anti-piracy mission have been jailed in India on weapons charges.
Yvonne McHugh, wife of Billy Irving was one of six who were working as security guards on a US-owned ship when they were arrested in October 2013 on illegal weapons charges.
There were hopes that the latest legal hearings in India would see them free to return to the UK but instead they were jailed for five years.
Yvonne is due to hold a meeting with where families, supporting MPs and welfare charities will discuss how to put pressure on the government to intervene and force Indian authorities to release the men. They will then deliver her 366,000-strong petition for a second time to Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street.
Yvonne told Change.org: ‘As you may or may not know the 7th of July marks 1000 days since the men were arrested. That is 1000 days too many that innocent men have had to have their lives torn apart and survive a living hell.
‘One has missed the birth of their first child, Others have lost family members, some have had to hear second hand that family members have taken ill, and are not there to support them.
‘Can you imagine not being able to walk your daughter down the aisle because of false imprisonment. They’ve lost their homes, and the lives they once led.
‘Talking hasn’t worked, it’s time for action. The men cannot be left to rot for another 1000 days. They once fought for us as veterans, now we must fight for them.’
The Revd Canon Ken Peters, Director of Justice and Welfare, The Mission to Seafarers, added: “Yet again we are bringing to the attention of all, the fact that men tasked with protecting seafarers from pirate attack are themselves ‘under attack’. The unwarranted detention of the crew of the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, in India, because of their possession of armaments used to defend against criminal violence, has dragged on for 1,000 days.
‘There is still no end in sight for the judicial process which has been subjected to adjournment after adjournment, delay after delay. Whilst pirates roam free, the crew and guards are held in prison. This really is the wrong way round.
‘We hope that common sense will prevail, the injustice recognised and the men released to be with their families, at home with loved ones. I wonder if any other professional will take on the task of patrolling the oceans to keep seafarers safe?’