Monday, September 14, 2009
"I was a Hostage of the Abu Sayyaf..."
On Easter Sunday in 2000, 10 tourists, 11 hotel employees & WWF rangers were abducted from the resort island of Sipadan by the extremist group, Abu Sayyaf, and taken hostage to Jolo Island in the Philippines 400km away.
Among them was German school teacher Werner Wallert, his wife Renate & their son Marc who were then on a dive vacation in Sipadan. Little did they (or the other hostages) know that they had become pawns in a tussle between the Philippine government and a small band of Muslim extremist rebels who were fighting for an independent state.
For some background to the Abu Sayyaf's Sipadan kidnapping,
Click here to view the Youtube video.
The sick lady in the video (filmed by journalists who were allowed to visit the hostages) is Renate. While she wasn't comfortable going on-air to share her experience, we did get to chat during the news break. What Renate said really shook me...
She had a dream. In that dream, her son Marc was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf. In her dream, his head rolled on the ground in front of her. In her dream, it was her that the Abu Sayyaf had wanted to behead, but her then-26 year old son sacrificed himself in her place.
Was the dream a premonition? Renate was so consumed by the possibility that she wanted to die. She wanted to kill herself.
"Why did you want to kill yourself?" I asked her, off-air.
"Because if I died, then the dream is not true," Renate explained. "In my dream, I lived, while my son died. And I would rather it be me who died. He was only 26!"
Such were the intense, maddening circumstances they were under! It was heart-stopping for me to hear the couple's story. Well, if you'd like to read about their first-hand experience, Werner has written a book that's currently out in the bookstores. It's called Hostage Terror: Abducted by Abu Sayyaf (Marshall Cavendish).
They Lived to Tell: German Werner & his wife Renate were abducted from Sipandan in 2000 and held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf.
The writings were taken from his journal, which he was allowed to keep while being held hostage. The photographs included in the book were also taken by Werner himself. This is a rare, first-person insight into the Jolo crisis, so do grab a copy if you're curious.
It's 9 years on. Werner & Renata have since put this terrifying experience behind them. He's now retired and produces documentary films for students. They still travel to Asia, and the couple recently went diving in Indonesia. Talk about triumph of the human spirit!
To catch the repeat broadcast of this interview, tune in to 938LIVE tonight, 10.40pm - midnight.