Relieved Chandlers relive horrendous Somalia captivityNovember 28th, 2010 - 3:34 pm ICT by ANI
London, Nov.28 (ANI): Paul and Rachel Chandler are smiling these days in a relieved sort of way after their release a fortnight ago from 13 months of captivity in Somalia, but they say they can’t ever forgive their captors, the Somali pirates who kidnapped them from their yacht.
“They showed no remorse for what they were doing. So, I don’t think it is possible. But I won’t waste any time being bitter about what they did to us,” The Telegraph quotes Rachel Chandler, as saying during an interview.
The couple said that their recovery is now a matter of time, patience and the support of the loved ones who have sacrificed so much to get them back.
“We are incredibly lucky people. We are lucky to be alive. We’re lucky to have such good friends and family, and we are lucky to have each other,” they said, adding that their one desire is to return to the sea, on their yacht which was recovered from the Indian Ocean.
“We’re very much looking forward to restoring her to where she was, and hopefully going back to sea,” says Rachel.
“There are three of us in this relationship,” she laughs
Recalling their horrendous ordeal, the Chandlers said: “We’re exhausted, obviously.”
And now, they are struggling mentally to come to terms with what happened.
“It’s been overwhelming because we had no idea about the public interest in our story,” said the Chandlers, who live in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
Recalling the kidnapping, they said that after their boat was captured by the pirates, they were driven 100 miles inland surrounded by armed men.
Their first shelter was a small African hut.
“We had a mat on the sandy floor. We had thin mattresses which had become quite compacted - not particularly comfortable,” says Rachel, a 56-year-old former government economist.
They said that for the first few weeks, they were generally well looked after, given bottled water and fed regularly.
A typical breakfast included goat stew, fried liver, leavened bread, they said.
But when the going got tough for the kidnappers, they took it out on the Chandlers.
The British couple was kept apart on at least three occasions, with no clue about what had happened to either of them.
They were particularly upset with the behaviour of the leader of the kidanppers, Bugas.
“He was the most difficult of our captors, because he was a nasty piece of work. He barked just like a vicious, snarling dog, and I was really frightened of him,” recalls Rachel.
About their separation at various intervals during their captivity, they said that in 29 years of marriage, they had scarcely been apart.
Rachel, who was often in tears and wanted to scream about her unfortunate fate, said that she had absolutely zero privacy.
Paul said he was depressed and also cried.
Both thought that without each other, there was no point in living, and even asked their captors to “be done with it”.
Their captors, however, were unsympathetic.
They admitted that the frustrated pirates beat them with tree bark whips.
“Bugas went off and found a tree root about the thickness of a little finger. He peeled the bark off and turned it into a whip. He started to whip us - our bodies, shoulders and heads. I had my arms trying to protect Rachel’s neck,” said Paul Chandler.
“We were still trying to hang on to each other - but you can’t in the end when brute force is applied. I was pulled away from Rachel and dragged on to my feet. As I looked back, I could see that Bugas was slamming the butt of a rifle into her head,” adds Paul.
Rachel raises her hand to a cheek, and shows me the tooth she lost in the assault.
Although she says she was not hit hard, “I was shouting my head off, I was so distressed. I think I was calling them murderers. And then I lay on the ground for a long time.”
They passed their time in captivity playing crosswords and puzzles, and doing yoga.
Rachel says she was harrassed by the pirates during her ordeal.
Paul was also traumatised, but simply had to trust the gang members and even managed to establish some rapport with them.
Their journey home has been bitter sweet, with the news that Paul’s elderly father died before he could see them free.
“I would have so liked him to have seen that picture of us waving on the steps of the High Commission. He would have loved that,” said Paul. (ANI)
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Tags: armed men, bottled water, captivity, chandlers, fortnight, fried liver, goat, leavened bread, matter of time, mattresses, one desire, ordeal, public interest, rachel chandler, remorse, sandy floor, somali pirates, such good friends, tunbridge wells kent, typical breakfast