MV ICEBERG - click photo for TheNational story about crew's treatment
After 122 weeks - that's 2 years, 4 months and (endlessly) counting - the 22 surviving sailors on MV ICEBERG are still captive. Still captive, still held almost incommunicado, and still subject to beatings and abuse, according to their families. 

And - most painfully - they're still being ignored! Especially by those who should be morally charged with obtaining their release, including their employer and their own national governments. It seems the only folks who haven't forgotten these men are their families - and of course the pirates who hold them.

(To recap their story to date click "Iceberg 1" and "Iceberg I Movie" in the "Categories" listing to the right of the page. And for an excellent video about the human side of the piracy problem, click "Piracy The Human Cost Video" in that same list. Those posts also hold links to other resources about the captives.)

I know I just put up a post about MV ICEBERG a short time ago. And there's no breaking news to report. But tonight I came across a reference to Ansar Burney, the Pakastani lawyer and activist who played a role in the release of MV SUEZ last year. 

At that time, July 2011, it was reported that for his next project Burney would try to negotiate release of the seamen of MV ICEBERG I. Here is a news story from TheNational to that effect that was published last year - it's over a year old. 

Hope rose on that announcement. Mr. Burney had won praise for the job he did in breaking the MV SUEZ stalemate. He had even raised money from private citizens all over Pakistan for the cause. So it looked like his involvement in the MV ICEBERG I negotiations would signal an end to the cruel status quo for those captive seamen.

But that's essentially the last I've heard. News searches on the Web yield nothing but old news. What became of Mr. Burney's mission? Like the rest of the MV ICEBERG I story, it seems to have sunk into inaction and obscurity.

So I'm appealing to seamen everywhere! Have you seen later or better information about MV ICEBERG I, Ansar Burney's mission, or other info about this tragically murky saga? Please enlighten the rest of us with links and info. 

And as always, keep doing what you can to put the shameful MV ICEBERG I story front & center. Let the rest of us know what we can do to help in your efforts - concerted action gets results!

Being held in close captivity under inhuman conditions is cruel. Being beaten and mistreated in that captivity is even worse. But being ignored for years at a time while this is going on is unconscionable

Let's raise the heat on those who feel they can discount the humanity of these men - our own humanity is diminished if we fail to do what we can. 

Kennebec Captain
8/19/2012 11:41:02 pm

Hey Reid,

Glad to see this post.


8/21/2012 10:07:29 am

It ought to be a shocking situation. But for some reason - because they're seamen, because they're from third world countries, who knows - it doesn't seem to matter to anyone.

I know there's lots of pain in the world, but I can't seem to understand why we're so resolutely ignoring theirs. As fellow seamen, I'm hoping that our sympathy for them - we could be in their shoes - will result in some action.

Thanks for the inspiration!


Lauren Phillips
9/16/2012 11:30:20 pm

I've come here as a person not employed in the industry, but just as a concerned person, looking for information on the MV Iceberg 1. This seems to be the most recent information around.

Has anyone got any idea where interested members of the public can contact Mr. Burney in order to see if there's anything that can be done?

I've been following this story for a while, and it really makes me sick to think people can be held under such conditions without the assistance of government or their employers. Not even a wage for their distraught families!

Mr. Burney seems to have a twitter account (@AnsarBurney) and a website ( I'm happy to send him a tweet, but maybe a petition may be in order?

Just two cents, again from a concerned bystander...

Lauren Phillips
9/16/2012 11:45:11 pm

Hello again,

I went ahead and sent a tweet, and this was the response:

To copy it here into the comment:

"Sure I am working on it and in UAE to meet the owner of the Shipping Company."

"am also looking International support in this regard to get them release as soon as possible as 2 already committed suicide"

(Obviously you have to take into account twitter character limits when looking at the shortness of the responses)

This was replied to within minutes, which is fantastic. It also shows that there's someone out there who cares and wants to lobby organisations and governments. If there was a place for the public to show support, I'd certainly go there.

Hopefully this will lead to some change in status for the crew of Iceberg 1.

Reid Sprague
9/18/2012 12:34:51 pm

Dear Lauren,

Fantastic! I'm ashamed that my approach was relatively so passive - just looking for news items and blog posts instead of taking your inspired, direct action! Great job - thank you for doing that.

Thanks also for including Mr. Burney's responses and contact info - I hope it will lead others to get in touch with him, and generate concerted action to bring attention to the ICEBERG I's captive crew.

I'll be contacting him myself, referring to your initial contact. Will also be highlighting your initiative in a blog post, if you don't mind that. And I'll update on anything he has to say - especially if any action results that we can all take part in.

Thank you for taking action! Maybe you've started the groundswell of awareness that can help bring attention to this abandoned crew - and others in similar straits.


Lauren Phillips
9/18/2012 10:45:22 pm

Hello Reid,

Thank you! When I see things that get my back up, particularly in regards to something that gets at my humanity (I consider this completely inhumane), I tend to be a bit assertive! Usually I wouldn't be so blunt. But this had a really great result, so it's reassured me to try it in the future.

I'm happy to be referenced. If you do use my name and need to link it to anything, I'd prefer e-mail over twitter. However, if you're going to contact Mr. Burney I will understand using the twitter links and my account being known. I just find that if I get any hits to my twitter account I get spammed with bogus accounts, that's all.

I think that social media is a great tool for lobbying for change. My next thought would be an online petition, sort of in the style of However, I'm really not that knowledgeable about how to put these things together, and what body/government we should be lobbying. Maybe you know more about that sort of thing?

I really, honestly hope this starts a groundswell. No ego involved. These people need freedom. Anything that helps to get them that is a great thing!

- Lauren

Reid Sprague
9/18/2012 11:02:51 pm

Dear Lauren,

I wouldn't make reference to your email address or twitter address directly in a public post, unless that was what you wanted. I did think it might tie things together for Mr. Burney if I referred to your contact with him via Twitter, since he responded to it so readily.

I've initiated a contact request with him through LinkedIn, and will see where that takes me. Will post soon with results - and thanks again for breaking the logjam in this decidedly opaque situation!


Reid Sprague
9/28/2012 10:58:01 pm

Dear Lauren,

Hope you've seen the new Facebook page - KC and I are working on a Google+ page and a dedicated website, as well. Check the latest post about MV ICEBERG 1 for links.

I'm still working on the petition idea, need to find an intelligent way to direct it - let me know if you have any beams of inspiration so far as that goes!

Your involvement has borne fruit and is much appreciated! Thanks again for your action and ideas.


Lauren Phillips
10/1/2012 09:48:49 pm

Hello Reid,

Sorry I didn't reply to your first comment on the 19th - I'd subscribed to this blog post but for some reason it didn't notify me via e-mail of it. What you've linked it perfect, and I have no issues with it. Thanks for the recognition! :)

I've liked the FB page and I think it's fantastic. It's a challenge indeed to figure out the direction of the petition, and I'm still not able to give you any suggestions, but continuing to create attention should eventually lead to the source needed. I think the Indian Government, and Governments of each of the seamen employed would be excellent. Would there be a point in petitioning the shipping company to reinstate wages? Even if it won't lead them to paying a ransom, helping the families would be a great step too.

If I do have any ideas I'll happily let you know. And if there's anything else you'd like to ask you can e-mail me direct as well.

All the best,

Lauren :)

10/3/2013 06:40:52 pm

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