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The Resurgence of Sea Piracy in Southeast Asia

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Éric Frécon

Chapter I. From Myths to Historical Reality

Entrées d'index

Mots clés :

Asie du Sud-Est

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1Contrary to terrorist movements and despite the recognised cruelty, pirates have widely inspired poets, painters and filmmakers. Some companies have made use of this fascination but the day has not (yet) come when Playmobil and Lego will substitute their “pirate” caskets by figurines of “Ben Laden” or “Islamic Jihad”.

  • 19 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince, Gallimard, Paris, 1946, p. 48
  • 20 Michel Wieviorka “Editorial”, in Cultures et Conflits, no 29-30, 1998, p 7-8,

2Piracy, though intriguing, holds a distinctive place, more explored by artists than by university research. The latter “deals with serious things” perhaps would reply Saint-Exupéry19, such as the “new paradigms of violence” so knowledgably conceptualised by Michel Wieviorka20.

  • 21 In the words of Gérard Jaeger (dir.), Vues sur la piraterie, Tallandier, Paris, 1992; see especiall (...)
  • 22 David-Anthony Delavoet, “La Piraterie, un fléau actuel”, Bulletin d’études de la marine, no 8, July (...)
  • 23 Delavoet, 1996, p. 24

3Piracy is however all the more interesting as it is “an adventure of all eternity21”. Already in the Iliad (Volumes III and XIV) and the Odyssey (Volumes IX and XIX), in The Histories (Volume I) or also in History of the Peloponnesian War (Volume I), Homer, Herodotus and Thucydides spoke of piracy which was respected and embodied by heroes such as Ulysses.22. At the same time, ancient civilisation was marked by the first counteroffensives by the State which have, subsequently, continued to inspire leaders. Minos, the legendary king of Crete, thus tried to pass a legislation against the pirates of the Mediterranean23. As for the marine expeditions led in the olden days by Pompei to safeguard the supply of wheat to the port of Ostia, neighbour of Rome, they do not fail to remind one of the suggestion of combined patrols in Southeast Asia, made in Tokyo in the spring of 2000. The objective from then on was to safeguard the Straits through which it is no longer wheat that transits but, as mentioned, 80% of the hydrocarbons intended for Japan: other times, other preoccupations, nevertheless the problem remains the same

  • 24 Gilles Lapouge, Les Pirates, Phébus, Paris, 1987, 198p.

4Without going too far back into the past, piracy sometimes throws up interesting analogies. It is thus that in the late sixties, Gilles Lapouge, a specialist in piracy, marked by the revolt of the students of the Latin Quarter (who were in fact looking for “sous les pavés la plage”-the beach under the cobbles), tried to draw a parallel between urban idealists and idealists on the seas24.

  • 25 Dialogue between Philippe Jacquin and Gilles Lapouge “La Piraterie revue et corigée”, in Philippe J (...)
  • 26 Philip Gosse, Histoire de la Piraterie, Payot, Paris, 1952 (1ère éd.) 383 p

5Pirates in fact evolve outside of time and space, occupying the expanse of the sea, devoid of all social norms. That is why some have spoken of “pirate Utopia”, swinging between nihilism and anarchism. The world of pirates constitutes a veritable counter-society, difficult to define, but which embodies a deep social revolt, in quest of “the promised sea25”. The purpose that has been generally attributed to the pirates over the ages is finally the establishment of a parallel system or even a State. Philip Gosse, whose work is a reference, identifies three typical phases in the historical evolution of piracy26. He first describes the poor and rejected sections of the population who band together in isolated groups and resort to armed robbery at sea. Later, these groups constitute organisations or structured networks. Finally, emerge solid communities or even States, originally founded on piracy but subsequently becoming players on the regional political scene.

  • 27 We will describe here three examples in history which are particularly significant, excluding for t (...)
  • 28 Romain Bertrand “Laffaire de la prise d’otages de Jolo: Un exemple de criminalisation du politique (...)

6We will see that the Mediterranean and Atlantic examples perfectly illustrate the ascent of piracy towards an ideal which is more or less praiseworthy, based on an egalitarian Utopia or on the thirst for power. On the other hand, Southeast Asia followed the opposite path from the 14th to the 20th centuries27. The “prestigious” pirate networks of olden times gave way to contemporary armed robbery at sea which replaces a certain form of exotism with sordidness28.

1.1. Mediterranean Piracy: From Ulysses To Barberousse

  • 29 Philippe Masson, “La Piraterie dans l’Antiquité”, in Gérard Jaegar (dir.), 1992, p. 29

7In the early days of ancient civilisation, bands haunted the waters of the Mediterranean and disrupted the nascent trade. At that time, no form of ideology or general organisation unified these bands. They simply plundered riches where they found them. The Phoenicians and the pre-hellenic Cretans (2500 B. C.) practiced cruel maritime banditry. Around the 9th century B. C, the Homeric pirates carried out the same pillage. It was thus that King Menelas, husband of the beautiful Helen, admitted frankly to having roamed for seven years and suffered enormously to amass these treasures and to bring them back home. He had been to Cyprus, to Phoenicia, to Egypt. He had seen the temples of Ethiopia and Sidon. He had been in Libya etc. We will note however that he does not mention trade29; and for good reason…

8Toward the 6th and 5th centuries B. C, the commercial vocation of Athens was becoming evident. The Hellenic capital created with its allies the Delos confederation which may be considered as one of the very first examples of regional cooperation. But the power of the Greek city gradually weakened and many unemployed sailors became pirates. They attacked the Carthagian ships and added to the ranks of the buccaneers in the Mediterranean.

9In the Roman era, piracy was still hardly any different from banditry. Illyria and Cilicia were the main areas where there was a high concentration of pirates, until Cnaeus Pompei was authorised by the Senate in 67 B. C. to hunt them down by heading 300 light craft and 120 000 sailors and soldiers. In 40 days, 850 pirate ships were destroyed. This was followed by true peace at sea, until the invasion of the barbarians who heralded the end of the Empire in 476.

  • 30 Ludwig Buhnau, Histoire des pirates et des corsaires, Hachette, Paris, 965, p. 104
  • 31 Philippe Sénac, Provence et piraterie sarrasine, Maisonneuve et Larose, Paris, 1982, 94 p.

10Once the Roman domination was forgotten and the Mediterranean trade relaunched through the Venetians and the Genoese, the harassment at sea in the Mediterranean resumed with full force. The pirates essentially regrouped themselves in Northern Africa and around the Saracens. At the dawn of the 9th century, these pirates carried out a number of raids on the Iberian and Provencal coasts. A little before the year 1000, these “pirates of Saint-Tropez30” settled down in the “Fraxinet” (massif of the Moors) to found a community of warriors dependent on the Caliphate of Cordoba31. This event illustrates the significant revival of the pirates’ambition in the North of the Mediterranean following the division of Charlemagne’s Empire in 843 based on the treaty of Verdun. The same pirates who previously formed only small isolated groups had organised themselves and had become much more dangerous.

111492, therefore, represents an important date. At that time, the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella had regained control of the Iberian Peninsula to the detriment of the Moors.

12Withdrawing to Northern Africa, the latter reached arid lands which did not correspond to the needs of a people avidly seeking power. The population of the Southern Mediterranean coasts and of the Mediterranean, found in Ouroudj (or Arouj) Barberousse, a heaven-sent leader likely to restore the art of navigation to its place of honour. Highly glorified by his recent exploits, such as the capture of the Papal galleys in 1504, Barberousse was an independent, powerful and frightening adventurer. Idolised by the people, he took control of Algiers in 1516 to lay the foundations of a veritable State based on maritime piracy.

  • 32 Armel Wismes, Pirates et Corsaires, France-Empire, Paris, 1999, p. 63

13Adding his political shrewdness to the courage of his warrior brother Ouroudj, Khayral-Din (or Kheyr-ed-din) gave a new dimension to Berber piracy. He raised it to the rank of a real political and diplomatic tool. We can recognise here the third phase of the cycle described by Philip Gosse since pirates vie with the State on the global scene. If the first of the two brothers was a “lucky adventurer”, the second became “the head of a town of rogues32”. Khayr also took an oath of vassalage to the Ottoman Empire and the Sultan immediately named him beglerbeg (Governor general) of Algiers. The pirate became more powerful; his fleet became impressive and his alliances judicious.

14The European capitals had to reckon with this. A striking example: in 1543-1544, the Christian monarchy of France governed by Francois I, perpetually in conflict with his archrival Charles Quint, received the fleet of Kheyr-al-Din at Toulon.

  • 33 By “military missions” we mean all the operations undertaken previously by the corsair and therefor (...)
  • 34 The Vikings posed the same problem, being termed sometimes as pirates, sometimes as corsairs or ord (...)

15The last of the Barberousse died out in 1546. Succeeding them came Dragut, then Ochiali who, in 1571 was defeated in Lepante by the fleet of Don Juan of Austria. This battle proved decisive. It was midway between piracy and the highly official military missions33, proof of the importance that the Berbers had gained in the Mediterranean.34

16After this defeat, the pirate kings disappeared. They gave way to less eminent chiefs such as Murad who, for want of power, gained in independence. Thanks to vessels with round hulls, of the same type as those of the Atlantic, the menace became even more threatening, right upto the gates of England.

17The pirates turned corsairs were led by Simon de Danser in 1606, before Jan Jansz came to the fore, at Salé in Morocco, by creating an independent pirate republic, with its own language, its own legislative structure and a real autonomy.

  • 35 See Peter Lamborn Wilson, Utopies pirates, corsaires maures et renegados, Dagorno, Milan, 1998,138

18Salé illustrates the magnitude of Mediterranean piracy during this period. Lacking more classical international recognition, this pirate State, shrouded in mystery, achieved its goals at Salé, and also at Rabat35. This permanent revolution faintly reminiscent of Don Quixotism foreshadowed the future Utopias, such as the Republic of Libertalia at Madagascar in the 18th century.

19But this Mediterranean piracy did not end up destabilising the regional order. In 1541, Charles Quint had already lost to Algiers. In the 17th century, political calculations had pushed the various European States to choose inaction, such was their happiness at seeing their competitors face the attacks of the Moor pirates. Of course, some punitive expeditions were organised, such as that of the Englishman Cromwell in 1655 or the more brutal one of Admiral Duquesne in 1683. But these expeditions remained sporadic.

20At the time of the French Revolution and the Empire Wars, the Western States had decided to pay a tribute to the pirate cities. But this tacit recognition of their legitimacy did not last. In 1804, an American squadron destroyed the Citadel of Tripoli, before the Anglo-Dutch forces (two years later) and the Anglo-Franco-Russian forces (in 1821) brought to an end the reign of the pirates in the Mediterranean.

  • 36 Pedalo Pirates Swoop on Yachts”, The Times, 22nd August 1996
  • 37 “Greece sends Special Forces to Corfu after Killing”, Reuters, 30th September 1996
  • 38 Dina Kyriakidou, “Greece: Police Shoot Kidnapper to End Hijacking”, Daily Telegraph, 28th July 2000

21Today, Europe generally seems to be free of piracy. The rare cases of terrorist attacks against the Achille Lauro, on 7th October 1985, and against City of Poros, on 12th July 1988 remain specific as they are closely linked to the political situation in the region. Piracy in Greece seems hardly more worrying than a pedalo attack in the Italian waters36. In 1996, the Corfu police nevertheless had to intensify its patrols following attacks against foreign tourists37. At the end of July 2000, an insane Czech took five Swiss tourists and their Greek captain hostage on their yacht in the Aegean Sea38.

1.2. Ocean Piracy: From the Atlantic Coasts to Madagascar

22Let us firstly note the existence of small-time piracy during the early Middle Ages, along the Atlantic coast in Europe as also in the North Sea. The pirates followed the Viking raids of the 9th century. We therefore find on the high seas, the equivalent of highwaymen, motivated above all by economic considerations. This concerned the coastal communities of the Basque region, Brittany, Spain, Portugal, Normandy, England, Flanders and Ireland. All of them settled near big ports and at the crossroads of important navigable routes. The unstable political situation in feudal Europe favoured their extortion.

23Before the first real charters meant to protect maritime transport came into being, unions were formed. Let us cite the Hanseatic League, brought to Northern Europe by Hambourg and Lübeck in 1241, and the League of the five ports (including Dover and Hastings) constituted on the death of the “king of the sea”, Edward II, in 1327, a little before the great trans-oceanic expeditions. The piracy near Cornwall and Ireland, led by Sir John Killigrey, however maintained the coastal banditry at the end of the 16th century. But like the Saracens in the Mediterranean, this piracy only foreshadowed one which was more frightening and much more organised.

  • 39 Philip Gosse, 1952, p. 143

24In the beginning of the 15th century, a series of factors induced European pirates to venture away from European coasts. Steadily, the Mediterranean gave way to the Atlantic Ocean for commercial transactions. During this period, Spain was creating for itself a rich empire in the “Western Indies”, offering new prospects to seafarers. The islands on the other side of the Atlantic offered many a refuge to the pirates, while the wind system imposed specific routes on merchant ships. Finally, the Spaniards made the double mistake of neglecting the lesser West Indies and working to destroy the colonies of the other Europeans who were trying to settle in the North-American continent. The latter knew how to make them regret it. The sovereigns Francois I and Elizabeth of England were happy to see the Spanish ambitions thwarted by audacious pirates such as François le Clerc (alias Pic d’Alo or Jambe de bois), Hawkins or Drake. Not much more was needed for the epicentre of piracy to move further towards the West. The “rogues of the sea”, themselves, members of “this curious floating republic39” led by the Calvinist rebels of the Netherlands, seriously disrupted Spanish trade in the second half of the 16th century.

  • 40 Philippe Jacquin, “L’Age d’or de la grande piraterie”, in Gérard Jaeger (dir), 1992, p. 131-181.

25What had been simple coastal banditry now became a practice that, if not supported, at all events encouraged by the State and reached its peak between the 16th and the 17th centuries40.

26The second phase of the development process of piracy dear to Philip Gosse takes shape: the age of maturity before the realisation of big projects. Following the first wave of immigrants from Europe, the English settled down in Jamaica in the 17th century while the French occupied the island of Hispaniola (today’s Haïti) and the small Tortoise island.

  • 41 reality this is relating to the “name that is given to the corsairs or adventurers who sail the Car (...)

27It is there that the survivors of the Spanish attacks organised their survival. They hunted and ate smoked meat – the boucans. This is how they were given the famous nickname of “boucaniers”(buccaneers) of the West Indies. Further in order to survive, these “brothers of the coast”, as they were called, took to the sea to attack the Spanish. The “flibustiers”-from the English freebooter and the Dutch vrijbuiter (literally free booty”)41 – recruited men from among the buccaneers. The French governors hardly took offence at this, in fact it was quite the contrary. Bertrand d’Orgeron, one of the representatives of the kingdom of France in the heart of the Caribbean, even tried to federalise the brothers of the coast on behalf of the State.

  • 42 Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin, L’Histoire des flibustiers au XVIIe siècle, P. Saurat éditeur, Paris, (...)

28The West Indian buccaneering made its presence felt gradually. From 1626-1627, the main events took place on these small islands. The co-existence of the pirate communities which developed all along the Atlantic coast during the Middle Ages was succeeded by a veritable fraternity of freebooters. The brothers of the coast, who shared the booty of their attacks, created on the other side of the Atlantic their own universe with its own rules. For example, compensations were provided for injuries sustained: from 100 crowns or a slave for the loss of an eye, upto 600 crowns or 6 slaves for the loss of the right arm-the one which held the saber42.

  • 43 Philippe Jacquin, in Gérard Jaeger (dir.), 1992, p. 128

29The legend goes that this brotherhood, called “the happy family” during its early years, was sometimes tainted with homosexuality, which would have strengthened the relations between sailors led into a terrible adventure43. Olonnois (reputed to be a savage), de Grammont (an “intellectual”) and Morgan (an English hero) were part of this informal organisation.

30Many events accelerated the transition towards the structuring of the fraternity of the coast.

31In 1713, with the Treaty of Utrecht which put an end to the war of Succession in Spain and till the second decade of the 18th century, a number of soldiers were demobilised and came to swell the ranks of a new piracy. This was the great era of Stede Bonnet, Don Quixote of the seas, of Low, of Roberts the Puritan, of Blackbeard, of Rackam as also of some women among whom were Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Progressively, things were moving to the last stage described by Philip Gosse. The truce with the Spaniards marked the passage to a Utopian piracy, founded as much on equality as on solidarity.

  • 44 Daniel Defoe, Histoire générale des plus fameux pirates, vol 1, Phébus, Paris, 1990, p. 17

32Hunted by the French and the English Navy who wished to ensure the safety of navigation, the pirates took to the high seas gradually to try to achieve an ideal that was strongly anarcho-nihilist. Contrary to the Berbers whose system was perpetuated for more than three centuries, few of these pirates managed to attain their ideal of liberty. More or less idealogists, they moved upto Guinea, in the Pacific and especially to Madagascar. Between 1714 and 1726, they built a solid network, through meetings, rallies, division and transfers of “personnel”44. Most of them used the Bahamas as a meeting-point.

  • 45 Daniel Defoe, Histoire générale des plus fameux pirates, vol II, Phébus, Paris, 1990, p. 15-57 and (...)

33At the heart of this network romanticised by Daniel Defoe, Misson’s adventure in the Indian Ocean, on board the Victoire, illustrates the outcome of this Utopian piracy45.

34The French sailor is a precursor of the 18th century (Illumination). He would have succeeded in establishing on the coasts of Africa his Republic of Libertalia, founded on the values of liberty and equality, succeeding where the other Utopian pirates of the Atlantic had failed.

35Since twenty years, after a long interlude punctuated only by the misdemeanors of Benito de Soto in the 19th century, piracy has resurfaced on the African coasts.

36Between 1982 and 1986, West Africa (and particularly Nigeria) witnessed a large number of cases of armed robbery at sea. About twenty-five incidents were reported annually, most often relating to berthed ships attacked during the night by about ten people armed with knives. As a result, the Nigerian authorities took measures permitting raids on the pirates’ haunts. The results of these operations proved spectacular as only some isolated cases were recorded during the following decade. However, today, there is an outbreak of the phenomenon with twelve incidents recorded in 1999 and nine in 2000. The Senegalese port of Dakar and Angolan port of Luanda, as also Guinea, the Ivory Coast and Cameroon are victims of similar incidents.

  • 46 “Somalie – un bateau français attaqué, sept marines pris en otages”, Reuters, 12th July 2000.

37Since 1991 and the overthrowing of the dictator Mohammed Siad Barre, the situation has been unstable in Somalia. Following the departure of the UN forces in 1995, 14 acts of piracy were reported. Another fourteen acts were reported in the area in 1999 and about ten in 2000. On 12th July 2000, an attack on a French boat as also an incident in which seven sailors were taken hostage, were brought to light. Following a breakdown, the ship had drifted into these dangerous waters46. Today, the weekly reports of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) warn ships about the Somalian coasts and suggest that foreign ships sail more than fifty nautical miles away from them. Under the circumstances, the connection between maritime piracy and political instability seems real.

  • 47 Edward Furdson, “Sea Piracy or Maritime Mugging?”, in Intersec, vol. 5, no. 5, May 1995, p. 166

38If the relations between the African and the American pirates, established at the time of Blackbeard and of Misson, do not exist any more, the two shores of the Atlantic nevertheless remain threatened. In 2000, the IMB recorded around thirty cases of piracy in South America. In spite of a few boarding incidents reported in Colombia, in Guyana, in Venezuela and in the Equator (thirteen boarding incidents in 2000, as against only two a year earlier), the Brazilian ports of Santos and Rio were subject to 80% of the acts of piracy recorded in the region in the mid-nineties. The attacks were often perpetrated with extreme violence. Sometimes, late in the evenings, women, certainly very charming, climbed on board on valuable reconnaissance missions before the assault took place47.

  • 48 Michel Colomès, Bernard Deguy, ‘Caraïbes: Pilleurs d’ épaves”, Le Point, 8th August 1992.
  • 49 D. Leppard, “Slaughter in Paradise”, The Times, 6th February 1994 and D. Adams, “Drug Pirates Bring (...)

39Central America is not spared either, whether it is in Jamaica or in the Dominican Republic, but the attacks here are different from the classical ones. In addition to the attacks on some luxury yachts, the piracy here is closely related to drug trafficking as some attacks serve to conceal illicit cargo. In the eighties, yachts disappeared and were transformed into “drug caches48”. These boats were normally stolen at the port and were rarely subject to attacks49. The American coastguard has since stepped up the surveillance of anchored vessels.

1.3. Is History Going Backwards? From the Networks of the Malay Archipelago to the Brigands of Southeast Asia

1.3.1. Pirates and Corsairs

40The case of Southeast Asia is a particular one. The pirates, initially at the base of a veritable economic system in the Malay Archipelago (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei), were gradually reduced in number, put into difficulty, before becoming the brigands of today. According to Philip Gosse, they would have taken history backwards, if at all we retain the decline of the Indian influence as the starting point in the history of contemporary Southeast Asia.

41In the beginning of the 13th century, the Chinese traveller Tchao Jou-Koua (or Chau-Jukua) describes in his explanatory note on San-fo-ts’i the Chinese name of the Sumatran maritime power of Sriwijaya, the tight control that the local authority exercised on the navigation in the region.

  • 50 Quoted by George Coedes, Les Etats hindouisés d’Indochine et d’Indonésie, éd de Boccard, Paris, 196 (...)

42“This country rules the straits through which foreign traffic has to pass. (…) If a merchant ship passes through without putting into port, the boats go out to attack it in accordance with a planned maneuver; the people are ready to die (to carry out this enterprise). It is for this reason that this country has become an important maritime centre50”.

  • 51 George Coedes, 1964, p. 43

43But soon the authority of this “Hinduised” State which was being exercised since the 8th century, fell apart, while a new decisive era began at the heart of the Malay Archipelago, marked as much by the arrival of Islam as by that of the Europeans. L’Histoire de Ming mentions trouble in the country of Sriwijaya after its invasion by the Javanese. The Chinese led by a Cantonese called Leang Tao Ming began gaining definite influence towards the end of the 14th century and it is with this observation that George Coedes ends his description of the ancient Sumatran kingdom “fallen into the hands of the Chinese pirates51”.

  • 52 Auguste Toussaint, Histoire des corsaires, PUF, coll. Que sais-je?, Paris, 1978, p. 91-92.

44These Muslim sultanates, developed along the maritime routes and constituted a new political and economic system. They differed from agrarian kingdoms constituted in the interior and opposed them. In the European context, it would probably have been a question of corsairs at the service of their monarch. Although unofficial, the idea is similar at the heart of the Malay Archipelago of the sultanates. It is moreover in this way that Auguste Toussaint defines in his Histoire des corsairs, these terrible sailors who have been fighting against the Europeans since the 16th century on behalf of the Muslim princes52. The regional relations were mainly regulated by the maritime guerilla, as was the case with the Berbers in the Mediterranean.

45Until the 19th century, entire communities lived by pirate raids, and were armed by the local authorities and contributed to the development of the commercial warehouses established in strategic sectors, in the heart of the Malay Straits (Malacca, Johor, the Riau Archipelago).

46For a war chief, the strategy consisted of making his presence felt through some raids, before gathering together a group of seafarers, creating warehouses, subduing the neighbourhood in order, finally, to attract the trade in the region towards his ports. These raids were at the heart of the commercial competition and the establishment of powers and counter-powers.

  • 53 Denys Lombard “Regard nouveau sur les pirates malais-Première moitié du XIXe siècle” in Archipel, n(...)
  • 54 Denys Lombard, 1990, 422 p.

47The Moniteur des Indes of 1844, in a report entitled “Historical notes on acts of piracy committed in the East Indian archipelago”, describes in detail the networks which control the major part of the trade on the islands between the Malacca Straits and the Sulu Sea53. Until the colonisation by Europe, these networks, clearly described by the historian Denys Lombard, structured the Southeast Asian area54.

  • 55 For a more complete insight into the history of piracy, see James Francis Warren, Iranun and Balang (...)
  • 56 Ch. Meyer, “Pirates des mers de Chine”, in Gérard Jaegar, 1992, p. 56.
  • 57 Ch. Meyer, 1992, p. 56

48Veritable political and commercial systems, they were built around two central points at the dawn of the 19th century. The first, centered on Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago (Philippines), constituted the starting point of the expeditions which scoured the Moluccas, the coasts of Borneo, of Celebes (current-day Sulawesi) and even the Malay peninsula55. Big suppliers in the slave markets, these pirates, in return for certainfinancial benefits, often enjoyed the support of the local municipal officers in Brunei and in the Island of Labuan situated near Borneo or also in Bali56. The second core of these networks was situated in the outskirts of the Island of Lingga, in the Malacca Straits. The pirates organised themselves to dominate the seas and to procure huge profits57.

  • 58 Alain de Sacy, L’Asie du Sud-Es: L’unification à l’épreuve, Vuibert, Paris, 1999, p. 124.
  • 59 Ayuman literally meaning “giving one, receiving two” (Ch. Meyer, 1992, p. 56). See also C. Lavollée (...)
  • 60 In the terms of Guislaine Loyré “Piracy and Islamism”, in Antonio Guerreiro and Pascal Coudere, Bor (...)

49These orang laut (“seafarers”) offered their services directly to the Malay sultans58. The dignitaries associated themselves with the bandits through the ayuman, veritable system of redistribution of profits59. Those who undertook this activity said to be “commercial60” were closely linked to their political partners, more concerned with increasing the revenues of their Sultanate than with fighting the spread of Christianity in the name of a growing Islamism in the Malay archipelago.

50It is said that in the past, fishermen/pirates always demanded the payment of a toll, first from the Chinese junk boats and then from the European galleons; when collected for their benefit, it was piracy, and when collected for the benefit of the various States in competition, it was considered customs duty.

  • 61 The trépang (or tripang) is an edible holothurian (also called “sea cucumber”) much appreciated in (...)
  • 62 Charles Meyer, 1992, p. 55
  • 63 David Anthony Delavoet, La Piraterie maritime en Asie du Sud-Est et ses conséquences, thesis for Ma (...)

51At the family level, just as the father used to teach his son the techniques of catching the trepang61, pirate attacks were also considered a real profession (rompak) and an “original institution62”. Thus it was recorded that piracy in the sultanates of the Malay had been able to continue because it was found to be “deeply enmeshed in the Malayan culture and tradition63”.

52In the middle of the 19th century, in Southeast Asia which was under the European influence, the Malay pirates lost control of the trade. Initially on the defensive, they entered progressively into a struggle against the Dutch, English and American powers who tried to dismantle their networks. Thus, Raga who, between 1813 and 1831, caused trouble in the vicinity of Makassar, Java and even in Sumatra, was vanquished by the American frigate Potomac.

  • 64 Denys Lombard, 1979, p. 246.

53Insofar as the pirates were still capable of gathering together upto 200 prahu (Malay ships) for the Dutch Indies alone, some refused the amnesty measures and the modest market shares that the authorities of Batavia were offering them in order to attract them to their own commercial sphere64.

  • 65 Jacques Baudou et Jean-Jacques Schleret, Les Feuilletons historiques de la télévision française, 8e (...)

54Brooke, the “White Raja” of Borneo, took control of one part of the island, inspiring the novel Les Tigres de Monpracem (The Tigers of Monpracem) written by Emilio Salgari (1862-1911) which inspired the famous Franco-Italian serial drama Sandokan in 1976. This “Robin Hood of the seas” during his fight against Brooke, falls in love with Marianne, an English aristocrat, before escaping to Labuan, to the North of Borneo65.

55From 1832, the Chinese of Singapore organised their self-defense before making a petition to the British Parliament. Warships were assigned to them and with the help of these steam ships, the pirate attacks reduced in number. In the middle of the 19th century, the bandits were finally forced to go underground.

1.3.2. Pirates and corsairs with respect to French colonisation

Abu Sayyaf, they could have become French: The France of Louis-Philippe exposed to the Sulu pirates66

  • 66 Read Denis Nardin on this subject, “Les Françias à Basilan, un projet de colonization avortée”, in (...)
  • 67 C. Lavollée, “Les Pirates malais”, in Revue des deux mondes, 3rd trimester 1853, p. 598.

56“Blind are they who do not notice the irresistible movement which draws the West towards the East! Borneo, Sumatra, Mindanao, these big islands still wild, are destined to become magnificent colonies67”. In the middle of the 19th century, France gradually developed a craze for the Far East.

57In 1819, the English seized Singapore before taking possession of Hong Kong in 1842. In dire need of finding a base in the Far East for refurbishing the supplies of its military and trade fleet, the Government of François Guizot was not quite as intuitive, when opting for the island of Basilan, in the Sulu Archipelago. But at that time, more than any other Asian territory, the Philippines seemed to be perfectly suitable as a base. In October 1844, the corvette Sabine was discreetly sent to Basilan, to the northeast of the now famous island of Jolo, to carry out initial hydrographical surveys under the command of Captain Guérin. Though curious, the natives did not attempt any hostile action against the French engineers. Everything changed when the mission led by a certain Meynard arrived at the mouth of a small river. He received on board a local leader and placed before his guests a spread of arms. However, as he refused to lend his rifle, tension mounted and krisses were unsheathed. Meynard was killed, his companions captured.

58The sailors remaining on board the Sabine were informed of the incident by the residents of a rival village. It was decided that the matter should be referred to the Governor of Zamboanga, capital of the Spanish establishments, who obtained the liberation of some captives for a few piastres. Joined by the Victorieuse, the Sabine then moved towards the Sulu Archipelago to demand an explanation from the Sultan. The latter gave the French carte blanche to organise a punitive expedition against Basilan. At the end of November, the Cléopatre and the Archimède, alerted at Manila by the Victorieuse, arrived at the island a few hours earlier than a Spanish ship. Finally, gathered together under the command of Admiral Cécille and the diplomat Lagrené, the French fleet of the Far East prepared to commence the second act of its expedition in the Sulu Archipelago.

  • 68 Denys Lombard in Archipel, no 18, 1979, p. 231-249

59On 12th January 1845, all the ships dropped anchor on the coasts of Basilan in the Bay of Malamawi. They then had to negotiate with the Spanish, who were vexed by the liberties taken by the French who had just set up a blockade in a zone theoretically placed under the control of Madrid. In fact, for the French it was a question of placing Basilan under their control. However, Lagrené appeared puzzled. The piracy, active in this area, worried him68. Admiral Cécille, on the other hand, was most enthusiastic: “On seeing Malamawi, this admirable port that some compared to Brest (…), I felt that I could not leave Basilan without ensuring that my country had potential rights to its possession.”

  • 69 C. Lavollée, 1853, p. 594.

60On 27th and 28th February 1845, the French officials launched an attack against the village responsible for the murder of Meynard. The action is narrated to us by Lavollée, a member of the expedition who would write about it in the Revue des deux mondes in 185369.

61“The Malays, attacked unexpectedly, took immediate flight, leaving in our hands their arms, and cannon, which were later taken to Paris as trophies of this expedition. The next day, the crew returned to the place of combat. The Malays had abandoned everything (…). In a few hours, the village of Youssouk was reduced to ashes and the population completely ruined.”

62The extreme violence of the French punitive expedition triggered bitter reactions from Lavollée against a “work of devastation” which “a civilised country could hardly use to glorify itself”. Anyhow, on 2nd March 1845, everything came to an end. The fleet left the Sulu waters and dispersed to Macau, Manila and especially France where the Archimède was going with a letter from the Sultan Mohamed Pulalou offering Basilan to France. Admiral Cécille saw the island as “a rival to Hong-Kong, (…) a beautiful jewel added to the crown of France”. In his Report to the King, the Admiralty suggested that they get around the Spanish relunctance. Though the Council of Ministers supported such an operation, Louis-Philippe countered them with his veto on 26th July 1845 by bringing up the constraints of the European diplomatic game.

  • 70 At that time, Louis Philippe who was living in the hope of sealing marriage pacts with the Spanish (...)
  • 71 For example: Ghislaine Loyré, 1991.

63It was very much in the interests of Paris to avoid hampering the negotiation of the Spanish alliances which then represented one of the most daring acts of its foreign policy70. It was not at all conceivable to vex Queen Isabella in Madrid by contesting her authority in the China seas at the very moment when the marriage of the Duke of Montpensier was being negotiated with the Princess of Spain. In order to justify the abandoning of the project of an establishment in Basilan, Louis-Philippe also evoked the not so favourable location of the island and… the high prevalence of piracy in the region71.

64The fact is that it would take more than a decade for the Spanish to establish their domination South of the Philippines beginning from the construction, in 1845, of their first small fort in Basilan.

65Lavollée however regretted this wasted opportunity and suggested that France maintain its sights on the Far East:

  • 72 C. Lavollée, 1853, p. 598

66“It is bitterly regrettable that France has no stake in the interests offered in these Asian regions. Other races, better advised and more fortunate, made sure of all the archipelagos and all the islands; we arrived too late, there was nothing left. Should we therefore be eternally condemned to watch from afar, and not take part, in the extension of the European influence over such a vast arena (…) Among the big islands that depend on the Philippines and Indonesia, there are some on which Spain and Holland wield authority in name only72.”

  • 73 Cf. Philippe Franchini, “L’Or et le sang de la France”, p. 20, in Tonkin: 1873-1954-Colonie et Nati (...)

67Paris would no longer evince any interest in the island territories. In 1858, in recognition of Louis-Philippe’s tact, Madrid would even send a contingent to participate in the first phase of conquest in Indochina73. It would then be confronted, amongst other forces, by other pirates under various “flags”.

In Vietnam, corsairs against pirates-tricolored flags against multicolored flags

  • 74 See for example Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 1450-1680, Silkworm Books, Chi (...)

68Between the 16th and the 18th centuries, the Dai Viet, ancestor of today’s Vietnam, was barely integrated with the Southeast Asian networks. It hardly participated, therefore, in what historians qualify as the “Golden age of Commerce in Southeast Asia.74” The abundance of pirate ships which used to cruise the high seas off its coasts is certainly one of the main reasons.

  • 75 Letters of Jacques de Bourges to foreign Missions in Paris, cited in Alain Forrest, Les Missionnair (...)

69In March 1682, the missionary Jacques de Bourges, who was going to Siam from the Tonkin, barely avoided “the encounter with 80 boats and Chinese vessels” loaded with pirates75. A few months later, on his return trip to the Tonkin, he was hardly any luckier.

  • 76 Letters of Jacques de Bourges to foreign Missions in Paris, cited in Alain Forrest, 1998, Tome III, (...)
  • 77 Cited in Alain Forrest, 1998, Tome III, p. 86

70On 4th August, he was attacked by four Chinese vessels which he then called “corsairs”. The captain of the boat, the Saint-Joseph, was killed by a bullet and the boat owed its salvation only to its ballast that guaranteed better speed even in stormy weather76. A century later, the danger was still very much present. And in 1781, the missionary Pierre Blandin described the manner in which his ship faced many more or less furtive attacks77. Besides, racked by several internal revolts, the Court of Hué would never truly succeed in reducing the armed bands that sailed the high seas off its coasts.

71Following the defeat of Sedan in 1871, France could not spare more than one naval unit to satisfy its desire for the Tonkin. Adventurers such as Dupuis from Roane, is who led the initial combats during the first phase of the strike, therefore played, in a certain way, the role of corsair of the Third Republic.

  • 78 Nguyen Khac Vien, Vietnam, une longue histoire, Editions en langues étrangères, Coll. Connaissance (...)

72Against them in combat, were the “Black Flags” commanded by Luu Vinh Phuc and subject to the Court of Hué78, but also several totally independent armed groups like the “Yellow Flags” of Hoang Sung anh who after having been veritable enemies of the States of the Nguyên monarchs, involuntarily served their interests by resisting the French.

  • 79 Pierre-Richard Feray, Le Viet-Nam, PUF, Que sai-je?, Paris, 1992 (1984), p. 20 and 23.
  • 80 Philippe Franchini, 1994, p. 33-50, See also Nguyen The Anh, “L’Image de la piraterie tonkinoise da (...)

73The protectorate treaties of 1883-1884 bestowed upon France full authority over the country. The “pacification” began79. But the occupation troupes would still encounter on their way, the insubordinate faction of the Tonkin, both brigands and political opponents80.

74In support of Dupuis’s action, Admiral Dupré, Governor of Cochinchina, entrusted an expeditionary corps to Francis Garnier, famous for having opened numerous routes in the region. The latter died under the pikes of the Black Flags whom the Governor of Son Tây called to the rescue.

75The French were not welcome in the delta of the Red river. China itself was unable to tolerate this European intrusion on its Southern borders, but could not resist it for long. The Treaty of 1874 opened the Tonkin to French trade and many agreements, concluded between 1883 and 1885, guaranteed France non-intervention by the Chinese.

76The authority of the protectorate however still found it difficult to make its presence felt in the territory. Dupuis, a pale Franco-Tonkinese version of the English rajah Brooke, would not have been as successful as his counterpart of Borneo. The French had to face the incessant harassment of the Black Flags. Other chiefs of rebel bands like Hoang Hoa Tham, alias Dê Tham, swelled the ranks of the forces hostile to the European order.

77Apart from the military posts deployed by the occupant in the region, one had to wait till 1891 for a change in the French policy of pacification which would permit it to cross a new threshold in its domination of the region. The collaboration of the Vietnamese mandarins was solicited. Military camps were set up between the delta and the mountainous periphery where those who had long assumed the responsibility of informal corsairs of the government had sought refuge.

78In 1897, only the forces of Dê-Tham still resisted to such an extent that they had to be granted a concession at Phon-Xuong, in the hope of obtaining his submission. The result was nowhere near expectations, as the rebel made good use of his new position to pursue his attacks. Though he was assassinated in 1913, the various “Flags” would in any case continue to hamper the colonisation efforts for a long time.

1.3.3. 1945-1989: the genesis of modern piracy in Southeast Asia

  • 81 Michael Pugh, “Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea: Problems and Remedies”, in Low Intensity Conflict a (...)

79Maritime crime persisted after the Second World War. Between 1946 and 1949 the pirates had their lair at Sumatra. In 1956, another base was reported in Thailand. Malaysia, which, from 1958 to 1966, was in the throes of its struggle for independence, was prey to internal strife conducive to violence. At its borders, Indonesia attempted unsuccessfully to defy it, displaying a tolerance towards piracy81 to serve its own interests. Jakarta would have ignored, if not controlled, the maritime raids.

  • 82 David-Anthony Delavoet, 1995, p. 40.

80But it is particularly the attacks against the Vietnamese boat-people fleeing the Communist regime that, from 1978, heralded the great come-back of pirates into the region. This piracy, often practiced near the border between Thailand and Malaysia, differed in many aspects from contemporary boarding incidents. By its opportunism, first of all, as it was not part of the culture of the people living in the coastal areas. The case of the Malay world was not the same as that of the Gulf of Thailand where piracy was not the act of specialists82. The economic difficulties of the Thai fishermen, made unscrupulous by their already hostile sentiments for the Vietnamese newcomers, permitted them to take up this practice without any inhibitions.

  • 83 Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, “Violence at Sea: Maritime and the Risk of Piracy”, in Jane’s Defense, 1996, (...)

81At the end of the eighties, organised gangs capable of tackling the biggest ships were constituted83. Pillage and violence followed one after another against the refugees who were very vulnerable on their rudimentary craft. Just like the Cuban balseros in 1994 or the refugees of the Moluccas in 2000, the escapees represented potential prey.

82From 1988, the policy of the host countries towards the refugees, who were quite happy to land on a foreign coast, became more ambiguous. Selected in Thailand, categorised and interned in Hong-Kong where they were considered as potentially illegal, the boat-people were sometimes driven back to the high seas where no help was given to them. One must say that on the political scene, this cruel practice was right from the beginning, part of the game of the two big rivals, China and America, causing considerable harm to the image of Vietnam.

83Progressively, the freedom of the pirates to act however triggered the indignation of international public opinion. In 1992, ten years after the initial interventions of NGOs and the initial measures of the United Nations, a special force was put into place, with eight warships and some planes at its disposal.

1.3.4. 1990-1996: from the Straits of Singapore to the South China Sea…

84Up to 1989, the Malacca Straits were considered relatively safe despite an average of seven incidents reported every year. Then, between early 1990 and mid-May 1992, the Riau Archipelago became the hotbed of world piracy with at least 200 incidents recorded. In 1992, the report of the IMB specifies that 47% of the attacks perpetrated in Southeast Asia took place near the island of Bintan and the Phillip Channel to the south of Singapore.

  • 84 Nathalie Fau (with the contribution of Yoslan Nur), “Le Pari des triangles de croissance Sijori et (...)

85Amongst the causes put forward were the establishment of the growth triangle of Singapore-Johor-Riau84 and the massive immigration caused by this sudden economic development. The evolution of the Indonesian island of Batam, symbol of this massive industrialisation, explains that its neighbor, the island of Bintan, has become the Asian equivalent of Tortoise island, which in the past sheltered the Caribbean freebooters. While in 1991, 82% of the total acts of piracy all over the world were staged in Southeast Asia, the proportion fell to around 16% two years later, to a large extent due to the institution of combined patrols in the region of the Straits.

  • 85 Peter Chalk, Grey-Area phenomena in Southeast Asia: Piracy, Drug Trafficking and Political Terroris (...)
  • 86 Peter Chalk, 1997, p. 30-31.

86In the mid-nineties, around two-thirds of the global pirate activity affected East Asia. The statistics of the IMB85 highlighted three areas: the South China Sea (42 attacks between 1993 and 1996), the vicinity of Hong-Kong and Macao (47 attacks between 1993 and 1996) and the Hong-Kong-Luzon-Hainan triangle (50 attacks between 1993 and 1996). Some authors saw here the hand of China. Perhaps anxious to maintain a certain degree of insecurity in the region, China could have tried, in this manner, to dissuade foreign ships from approaching the politically contested areas that it was demanding. Peking could thus have adopted the same strategy of indirect intervention as that adopted by Queen Elizabeth with the Caribbean freebooters four centuries earlier86.

87Towards 1996, however, China would have given up its tacit support to the bandits before committing itself to the repression of their activities. This resulted in a significant drop in the acts of piracy in East Asia while they increased in the Malay world (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei).

1.3.5. Piracy today

Return to the Malay archipelago…

88From 1997, the menace became more widespread. The pirates established themselves well and truly in the society of their origin. In doing so, they adopted an ancestral practice which had long since been dormant.

  • 87 Daniel Perret “Notes sur la piraterie moderne en Méditerranée sud-est asiatique», in Archipel, no 5 (...)

89In the Philippines, in 1995-96, a sudden outbreak of piracy was observed not far from Manila, on the Pasig river as also in the Sulu Sea87. In 1997, the Gulf of Moro witnessed an outburst of activity following the deactivation of naval district VII and the Neptune antipiracy force. Among the Filipino pirates were found a number of rebels in search of supplementary income. Others were true bandits who, in Davao, were called ambak pare (literally “jump, my mate”) because this is what they suggested to the occupants of the ships. Near Manila, criminal groups even used official uniforms.

90While the IMB did not record a single attack in the Philippine archipelago in 1991, it recorded close to 80 between 1995 and 1997. As it happens, the reinforcing of the naval patrols proved to be effective as only six incidents took place in 1999 and nine in 2000.

  • 88 Perret, 1998, p. 133; “Indonesia remains Top World Piracy Centre”, AFP, 1st November 2000

91During the second half of the 1990s, the Malay state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo constituted one of the centers of piracy in the region88. The geographical context played a very important role here. The eastern coast of Sabah is 1400 kilometers long and has about 500 islands close by. With a powerful engine, international waters can be reached in about twenty minutes only. Semporna, Sandakan or Lahad Datu, the principal islands of the state are not more than two to four hours away.

92The socio-economic and even political environments were decisive factors. In the atmosphere of the conquest of the East – or of the far east – which characterised these areas where law and order was non-existent, mount Kinabalu replaced the Rockies. The buses (sometimes attacked) played the role of the diligences. On the penal side, the police and the navy eclipsed the sheriffs and the cavalry. Lastly, the outlaws ceded their place here to the pirates, Indonesian or Filipino (Tausug, Sama, or Moro), who spread out from their coastal villages. Thus, despite a drop in the attacks following the governmental measures from the end of the nineties, the Association of seafarers of

  • 89 “No Reports of Piracy After Tighter Security”, The Star, 1st October 1999

93Sandakan (Asosiasi Tongkang Sandakan) was concerned about the economic future of the region. It feared that the fishermen of Sabah would be afraid to go to sea, which could possibly push the ship owners to resort to hiring labour from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi89.

  • 90 “More Piracies in Malaysian Waters, Says Maritime Report”, The New Straits Times, 21st October 1999
  • 91 Pulau means island in the Indonesian language.
  • 92 AFP-Agence Bernama, “Malacca Strait Piracy Heading for 10-Year High”, The Straits Times, 10th Octob (...)

94At the end of the 20th century, the waters extending between Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan in Sabah, the port of Bintulu in Sarawak as also the neighbouring areas of the island of Penang and Port Dickson on the West coast of the peninsula were the most dangerous in Malaysia90. From the year 2000, the sectors lying further South of Tanjung Tohor (in the neighborhood of Batu Pahat), Pulau Pisang91 not far from Johor Baru and Pulau Undan towards Malacca should be added to this list. On a bright morning of October 2000, at 4.30 a. m., off the coast of the province of Selangor, a customs ship was, for example, surrounded by about fifteen sampans and other fishing boats. The four officers had just intercepted three boats carrying smuggled goods: 10000 drums of brandy and whisky and 38000 boxes of kretek, these famous clove flavoured cigarettes which are so much in demand in Indonesia. The Customs officers had not yet had time to unload their haul to put them away in a safe place and this had instigated the covetousness…92.

95Whatever be the magnitude of the problem in Malaysia (peninsular or Eastern), Indonesia remains the principle centre of regional piracy and, very often, serves as a base for the expeditions into the Malacca Straits. Sumatra and the Northeast of the Anambas islands, not far from Natuna, have for a long time served as shelter for various pirate bands and the situation still persists.

  • 93 Daniel Perret, 1998, p. 133

96Between 1995 and 1999, the big archipelago served as the stage for nearly a third of the incidents reported across the world93. A year later, the total of 119 attacks still remains staggering even though – it is to be emphasized – the figure has declined relatively when compared with the number of attacks across the world (469). As the minutes of the discussions show, Indonesia remained passive during the meeting in Bombay held in October 2000 and it has for a long time given the impression of putting up with this rampant piracy; perhaps because the former Chief of State Abdurrehman Wahid had other priorities.

Detour in South Asia

97A broader vision of Southeast Asia cannot a priori justify an in depth study of the cases reported in Southern Asia. But India cannot escape totally from our field of observation. On the one hand, because it is using these incidents to justify its initiatives in Southeast Asia. On the other hand, because it so happens that the ships captured in the Malay Straits have been found on the waters of the sub-continent. It is said that the Alondra Rainbow would have served in the trafficking of arms for the “Tamil Tigers” of the LTTE via Cambodia (Refer to Boarding Incident10).

  • 94 “Piracy Plagues Bangladesh’s Main Port”, AFP, 25 October 2000
  • 95 The IMB recorded 14 attacks in the port of Chittagong and 8 in the port of Mongla in Bangladesh; 11 (...)

98The significant emergence of piracy in the neighborhood of the Indian sub-continent is not unrelated to what is happening further to the East. Bangladesh, where the problem did not exist in 1993, faced 55 attacks in 200094. During this same period, India recorded 35 incidents in 2000, 21 more than in 1999. According to the International Maritime Bureau, these attacks affected particularly the port facilities. In 2001, 22 of the 25 attacks listed in Bangladesh and 22 of the 27 attacks which India faced took place at night against berthed ships95.

Recent evolution in the Malacca Straits

  • 96 “Piracy on the Rise in Malacca Straits”, The New Straits Times, 19th June 2000.

99Since the month of May 2000, the Malacca Straits have once again been in the news. Seventy-five incidents have been reported at the end of the year, while the IMB had recorded only two incidents the previous year. This evolution has naturally aroused the anxiety of Noel Choong, director of the Regional Center of Piracy (based in Kuala Lumpur), who feared possible consequences on the volume of trade in the area96.

100The naval patrols instituted in 1992, had had the effect of reducing to a tenth the acts of piracy in the Straits. These measures however proved to be insufficient to stop the resurgence of the phenomenon which many attribute to the political and social instability of Indonesia. Moreover, the islands of Bintan and Bengkalis, near Dumai and Pekanbaru, attract the attention of the authorities at least as much as some areas on the West coast of the Malay peninsula. In the eyes of the IMB, the most critical sector in 2001 was located within twenty-five nautical miles around the point situated at the latitude of 2° North and longitude of 102° East off the coast of the little island of Rupat (Sumatra), between Dumai in Indonesia and Malacca in Malaysia.

Location of the reported attacks worldwide (1991-2001)

Location of the reported attacks worldwide (1991-2001)

Source : International Maritime Bureau, data from 2002

Piracy* and the major Asian sea lanes

Piracy* and the major Asian sea lanes

* Data from the IBM, for the 1991-2001 period.

Notes

19 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince, Gallimard, Paris, 1946, p. 48

20 Michel Wieviorka “Editorial”, in Cultures et Conflits, no 29-30, 1998, p 7-8,

21 In the words of Gérard Jaeger (dir.), Vues sur la piraterie, Tallandier, Paris, 1992; see especially p. 13-23

22 David-Anthony Delavoet, “La Piraterie, un fléau actuel”, Bulletin d’études de la marine, no 8, July 1996, p. 24.

23 Delavoet, 1996, p. 24

24 Gilles Lapouge, Les Pirates, Phébus, Paris, 1987, 198p.

25 Dialogue between Philippe Jacquin and Gilles Lapouge “La Piraterie revue et corigée”, in Philippe Jacquin, Sous le pavillon noir, pirates et flibustiers, Gallimard, Paris, 1998, p. 180.

26 Philip Gosse, Histoire de la Piraterie, Payot, Paris, 1952 (1ère éd.) 383 p

27 We will describe here three examples in history which are particularly significant, excluding for the clarity of the demonstration the pockets in Northeast Asia (the Wokon of Japan in the 16th century, the Koxinga fleet towards Taiwan in the 17th century, the bands of Madame Ching in the beginning of the 19th century…) and of the Middle-East. The Djoasmis, mentioned way back in the 13th century by Marco Polo, haunted for a long time the region of the straits of Ormuz, along the “coast of the pirates”, attacking English ships until the 19th century. The cases of piracy against yachts and cargo ships are increasing in the waters of Yemen.

28 Romain Bertrand “Laffaire de la prise d’otages de Jolo: Un exemple de criminalisation du politique en Asie du Sud-Est”, in La Revue internationale et stratégique, autumn 2001, no 43, p. 42

29 Philippe Masson, “La Piraterie dans l’Antiquité”, in Gérard Jaegar (dir.), 1992, p. 29

30 Ludwig Buhnau, Histoire des pirates et des corsaires, Hachette, Paris, 965, p. 104

31 Philippe Sénac, Provence et piraterie sarrasine, Maisonneuve et Larose, Paris, 1982, 94 p.

32 Armel Wismes, Pirates et Corsaires, France-Empire, Paris, 1999, p. 63

33 By “military missions” we mean all the operations undertaken previously by the corsair and therefore on behalf of an official government.

34 The Vikings posed the same problem, being termed sometimes as pirates, sometimes as corsairs or ordinary warriors. See Pierre Boyer, “Etat pirate ou Etat corsaire: les Barbaresques”, in Gérard Jaeger (dir.) 1992, p. 61-69

35 See Peter Lamborn Wilson, Utopies pirates, corsaires maures et renegados, Dagorno, Milan, 1998,138 p

36 Pedalo Pirates Swoop on Yachts”, The Times, 22nd August 1996

37 “Greece sends Special Forces to Corfu after Killing”, Reuters, 30th September 1996

38 Dina Kyriakidou, “Greece: Police Shoot Kidnapper to End Hijacking”, Daily Telegraph, 28th July 2000.

39 Philip Gosse, 1952, p. 143

40 Philippe Jacquin, “L’Age d’or de la grande piraterie”, in Gérard Jaeger (dir), 1992, p. 131-181.

41 reality this is relating to the “name that is given to the corsairs or adventurers who sail the Carribean Sea and Sea of America” according to the dictionary of Furetière quoted by Jean-Pierre Moreau, “Les Origines de la flibuste antillaise”, in Gérard Jaeger (dir.), 1992, p. 106

42 Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin, L’Histoire des flibustiers au XVIIe siècle, P. Saurat éditeur, Paris, 1987, p. 49

43 Philippe Jacquin, in Gérard Jaeger (dir.), 1992, p. 128

44 Daniel Defoe, Histoire générale des plus fameux pirates, vol 1, Phébus, Paris, 1990, p. 17

45 Daniel Defoe, Histoire générale des plus fameux pirates, vol II, Phébus, Paris, 1990, p. 15-57 and p. 88-112

46 “Somalie – un bateau français attaqué, sept marines pris en otages”, Reuters, 12th July 2000.

47 Edward Furdson, “Sea Piracy or Maritime Mugging?”, in Intersec, vol. 5, no. 5, May 1995, p. 166

48 Michel Colomès, Bernard Deguy, ‘Caraïbes: Pilleurs d’ épaves”, Le Point, 8th August 1992.

49 D. Leppard, “Slaughter in Paradise”, The Times, 6th February 1994 and D. Adams, “Drug Pirates Bring Deathly Fear to Caribbean Paradise”, The Times, 5th February 1994.

50 Quoted by George Coedes, Les Etats hindouisés d’Indochine et d’Indonésie, éd de Boccard, Paris, 1964, p 335.

51 George Coedes, 1964, p. 43

52 Auguste Toussaint, Histoire des corsaires, PUF, coll. Que sais-je?, Paris, 1978, p. 91-92.

53 Denys Lombard “Regard nouveau sur les pirates malais-Première moitié du XIXe siècle” in Archipel, no 18, Paris, 1979, p. 233.

54 Denys Lombard, 1990, 422 p.

55 For a more complete insight into the history of piracy, see James Francis Warren, Iranun and Balangingi-Globalisation, Maritime Raiding and the Birth of Ethnicity, Singapore University Press, Singapore, 2002, XXII-585 p.

56 Ch. Meyer, “Pirates des mers de Chine”, in Gérard Jaegar, 1992, p. 56.

57 Ch. Meyer, 1992, p. 56

58 Alain de Sacy, L’Asie du Sud-Es: L’unification à l’épreuve, Vuibert, Paris, 1999, p. 124.

59 Ayuman literally meaning “giving one, receiving two” (Ch. Meyer, 1992, p. 56). See also C. Lavollée, “Les Pirates malais”, in the Revue des deux mondes, 1853, quoted by Ch. Meyer, 1992, p. 57.

60 In the terms of Guislaine Loyré “Piracy and Islamism”, in Antonio Guerreiro and Pascal Coudere, Bornéo: des chasseurs de tête aux écologistes, Autrement, Paris, 1991, p. 58-66.

61 The trépang (or tripang) is an edible holothurian (also called “sea cucumber”) much appreciated in the Far East.

62 Charles Meyer, 1992, p. 55

63 David Anthony Delavoet, La Piraterie maritime en Asie du Sud-Est et ses conséquences, thesis for Masters, Université Paris 1, Panthéon – Sorbonne, 1995, p. 17

64 Denys Lombard, 1979, p. 246.

65 Jacques Baudou et Jean-Jacques Schleret, Les Feuilletons historiques de la télévision française, 8e art, Paris, 1992, 131-132

66 Read Denis Nardin on this subject, “Les Françias à Basilan, un projet de colonization avortée”, in Archipel, no 15, 1978, p. 29-40, or the testimonies of the participants in the mission: Louis-Joseph Brossolet, Souvenirs des mers de Chine et d’autres eaux (1823-1898), Belin, Paris, 1996, p. 71-94, Marc Boulanger, L’amiral Jean-Baptiste Cécille, figure illustre de Rouen (1787 – 1873), éditions Bertout, Luneray (76), p. 87-88 and “Revue: lettres des mers de Chine” in Revue des deux mondes, no 10, 1845, p. 1033-1036.

67 C. Lavollée, “Les Pirates malais”, in Revue des deux mondes, 3rd trimester 1853, p. 598.

68 Denys Lombard in Archipel, no 18, 1979, p. 231-249

69 C. Lavollée, 1853, p. 594.

70 At that time, Louis Philippe who was living in the hope of sealing marriage pacts with the Spanish Crown did not want to offend the latter by setting up a colony in Basilan as the British had done in Hong-Kong and then in Singapore. Read Denis Nardin, in Archipel, no 15, 1978, p. 37.

71 For example: Ghislaine Loyré, 1991.

72 C. Lavollée, 1853, p. 598

73 Cf. Philippe Franchini, “L’Or et le sang de la France”, p. 20, in Tonkin: 1873-1954-Colonie et Nation: Le Delta des mythes, Autrement, séries mémoires, no. 32, Paris, 1994.

74 See for example Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 1450-1680, Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai, 1988, 2 vol., XVI-275 p. and XV-390 p.

75 Letters of Jacques de Bourges to foreign Missions in Paris, cited in Alain Forrest, Les Missionnaires français au Tonkin et au Siam, XVIIth, 18th century – L’Analyse comparée d’un relatif succès et d’un total échec, L’Harmattan, Coll. Recherche Asiatiques, Paris, 1998, Tome III, “Organiser une Eglise, convertir des infidèles” p. 86.

76 Letters of Jacques de Bourges to foreign Missions in Paris, cited in Alain Forrest, 1998, Tome III, p. 86-87

77 Cited in Alain Forrest, 1998, Tome III, p. 86

78 Nguyen Khac Vien, Vietnam, une longue histoire, Editions en langues étrangères, Coll. Connaissance du Vietnam, Hanoi, 1987, p. 150.

79 Pierre-Richard Feray, Le Viet-Nam, PUF, Que sai-je?, Paris, 1992 (1984), p. 20 and 23.

80 Philippe Franchini, 1994, p. 33-50, See also Nguyen The Anh, “L’Image de la piraterie tonkinoise dans la littérature coloniale», p. 180, in Denys Lombard (dir.), 1993, 486 p.

81 Michael Pugh, “Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea: Problems and Remedies”, in Low Intensity Conflict and Law Enforcement, vol 2 no 1, summer 1993, p. 2.

82 David-Anthony Delavoet, 1995, p. 40.

83 Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, “Violence at Sea: Maritime and the Risk of Piracy”, in Jane’s Defense, 1996, p. 80.

84 Nathalie Fau (with the contribution of Yoslan Nur), “Le Pari des triangles de croissance Sijori et IMT-JT”, in Hérodote, no 88, 1st trimester 1998, p. 125-140.

85 Peter Chalk, Grey-Area phenomena in Southeast Asia: Piracy, Drug Trafficking and Political Terrorism, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre-Australian National University, Canberra, 1997, p. 30

86 Peter Chalk, 1997, p. 30-31.

87 Daniel Perret “Notes sur la piraterie moderne en Méditerranée sud-est asiatique», in Archipel, no 56, 1998, p. 135.

88 Perret, 1998, p. 133; “Indonesia remains Top World Piracy Centre”, AFP, 1st November 2000

89 “No Reports of Piracy After Tighter Security”, The Star, 1st October 1999

90 “More Piracies in Malaysian Waters, Says Maritime Report”, The New Straits Times, 21st October 1999.

91 Pulau means island in the Indonesian language.

92 AFP-Agence Bernama, “Malacca Strait Piracy Heading for 10-Year High”, The Straits Times, 10th October 2000

93 Daniel Perret, 1998, p. 133

94 “Piracy Plagues Bangladesh’s Main Port”, AFP, 25 October 2000

95 The IMB recorded 14 attacks in the port of Chittagong and 8 in the port of Mongla in Bangladesh; 11 in the port of Chennai, 4 in Cochin, 4 in Kakinada and 3 in Haldai in India.

96 “Piracy on the Rise in Malacca Straits”, The New Straits Times, 19th June 2000.

Table des illustrations

Titre Location of the reported attacks worldwide (1991-2001)
Légende Source : International Maritime Bureau, data from 2002
URL http://books.openedition.org/irasec/docannexe/image/476/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/, 252k
Titre Piracy* and the major Asian sea lanes
Légende * Data from the IBM, for the 1991-2001 period.
URL http://books.openedition.org/irasec/docannexe/image/476/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/, 216k

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