The type of violence used by those who resort to it for political motives seems to follow a pattern.
The type of violence used by those who resort to it for political motives seems to follow a pattern. One year, the chief targets are aircraft; in another, diplomats or businessmen are kidnapped. 1975 looks like becoming the Year of the Siege. At least eight times, people have beeb held hostage inside their homes or workplaces by armed men and women using them as a counter to bargain with the authorities.
In April, six members of the west German Baader-Meinhof group entered the West German Embassy in Stockholm and took 12 members of the staff hostage, including the Ambassador. They were demanding the release staff hostage, including the Ambassador. They were demanding the release of 26 fellow-members of the group in prison in West Germany. One attache was shot when Swedish police refused to leave the ground floor of the building; another when the West German government announced that they would not meet the demands. After about ten hours of occupation, there was an explosion in the building, setting it on fire, and one of the terrorist group was killed. The other five fled, but were quickly rounded up by the Swedish police. The ten remaining hostages escaped alive, though they had all been injured in the explosion. The five surviving Germans were sent home for trial.
Only four days later, a lone gunman, David Protter held 18 people in the Israeli consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa, for 16 hours. His motives were obscure. One member of the consulate staff was killed. Protter was later convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.
Early in august, five members of the Japanese "Red Army" shot their way into a big commercial building in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, which houses the United States consulate and Swedish Embassy on the upper floors. They, too, were demanding the release of prisoners held for, or convicted of, offences of violence in Japan. The Japanese government agreed to release the seven demanded, but two of them refused to go to Malaysia. The other five were flown to Kuala Lumpur, and after three days the gunmen released about fifty hostages; they took four new ones, two Malaysian and two Japanese officials, with them and the released prisoners on the aircraft that flew them to Libya.
In September four Palestinian gunmen seized the Egyptian Embassy in Madrid as a protest against the disengagement agreement that Egypt had just signed with Israel. They held the Egyptian Ambassador and two other diplomats for sixteen hours, and forced the Ambassador to sign a document denouncing the agreement. Then they took the three diplomats and the Iraqi and Algerian Ambassadors, who had gone to the Embassy to negotiate, with them in an aircraft to Algeria, where all five hostages were released unharmed.
A five-day siege in London, which started right at the end of September, had no political motive. Six Italian employees of the Spaghetti House restaurant were held captive in a tiny store-room by three gunmen who, according to police, had planned to rob the restaurant of its Saturday-night takings. This was the first occasion on which the police used the tactics of just waiting for the morale of the gunmen to crack, after making it clear to them that there would be no negotiations. One of the gunmen, a Nigerian, shot himself in the stomach, but was not dangerously hurt. The other two gave themselves up and the hostages were released safe and well.
Immediately afterwards came the longest siege of all. The story began when the Dutch industrialist, Dr. Tiede Herrema, was kidnapped by two members of the Irish Republican Army near his home in Limerick. Threats were issued to kill him unless three other members of the I.R.A. were released from prison. An intensive search began, and his captors threatened to cut off Dr. Herrema's foot as proof that he was still alive. The Dutchman was moved twice, and eventually traced, after nearly three weeks, to a council house in Monasterevin. Police and troops surrounded the house and again settled down to waiting tactics. It was another sixteen days before those paid off, and Dr. Herrema's captors, Eddie Gallagher and Marian Coyle, released him and gave themselves up. Dr. Herrema won the admiration of the Irish people for his courage during his 36-day ordeal, and for his decision to return after a month's holiday, to his company in Ireland.
The Irish Republican Army were also involved in a second siege in London. It began on December 6th, when four men, escaping from a police car chase, burst into a first floor flat and took the two occupants, Mr. and Mrs. John Matthews, a couple in their fifties, as hostages. Once again, police barricaded off the area and waited. In this case, the men were just trying to secure their own escape. At last, after six days spent with their two captives in one small room, they released first Mrs. Matthews and then her husband, and gave themselves up.
Finally, there have been two linked sieges in the Netherlands, both involving south Moluccan extremists. They want independence for their homeland, formerly part of the Dutch East Indies and now Indonesian territory. To call attention to their demands, they first hijacked a train with about 80 passengers on board, at Beilen, in northern Holland. Some escaped, but the driver and two passengers were killed by the gunmen. It was twelve days before the hijackers, driven, it was thought by the extreme cold in the train, gave themselves up and released the last 23 passengers.
But the surrender at Beilen brought no relief for a second group of hostages, held now for thirteen days in the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam, also by South Moluccans. The consulate contains an Indonesian school, and originally about ten children were among those held captive; but they have all been released. Twenty-five people, however, are still imprisoned inside.
SYNOPSIS: The West German Embassy in Stockholm last April -- first of a series of buildings to be occupied this year by armed men seeking to enforce political demands. Six gunmen bargained unsuccessfully for the release of fellow members of the German Baader-Meinhof group. The diplomats were shot and one gunman died in an explosion before the siege was lifted.
Kuala Lumpur in August: Japanese Red Army guerrillas emerging from a siege after their demands to free prisoners in Japan had been met. They took four hostages with them in the plane that flew tem and the released prisoners to Libya.
Madrid in September: four Palestinians besieged the Egyptian Embassy, and took the Egyptian and two other arab Ambassadors off to Algeria in their protest against the latest agreement that Egypt had signed with Israel. All these hostages got back safely.
The Spaghetti House restaurant siege in London, also in September, was not political. The motive of the three men who held six Italian waiters in a small store-room was said to be robbery. The police settled down to wait for the morale of the gunmen to crack. After five days, they gave themselves up.
The people of Limerick in the Republic of Ireland were indignant when the Irish Republican Army kidnapped Dr. Tiede Herrema, the Dutch managing director of a factory in the town. After nearly three weeks, he and his captors were traced to a housing estate right across the country in Monasterevin. Soldiers and police surrounded the house and waited -- conscious of the fact that Dr. Herrema's life was in acute danger if they made a false move.
Their patience was rewarded. The two I.R.A. members, Eddie Gallagher and Marian Coyle -- who again had been demanding the release of other prisoners -- gave themselves up and let Dr. Herrema go. The courage of the Dutch industrialist in his thirty-six-day ordeal won the admiration of people far beyond the shores of Ireland.
There was a happy ending too for a London couple, Mr. and Mrs. John Matthews, who were set free after being held for six days in one room of their flat. Four I.R.A. gunmen had burst in there while escaping from a police chase early in December.
Once again, the police had the area sealed off and every movement covered as the gunmen, one by one, made their way across the narrow balcony to the adjoining flat, to be arrested and taken away in custody.
Finally, two linked sieges in the Netherlands. South Moluccan extremists seized a whole trainload of people. Some escaped, but three hostages had been shot before extreme cold drove the South Moluccans to give up and release the twenty-three remaining captives after twelve days.
Members of the same group are still holding out in the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam -- where they put a blindfold hostage on the balcony to show they were in earnest. They want independence for their homeland, once part of the Dutch East Indies, and now Indonesian territory.