Danish Imperialists Commit War Crime Off the Coast of Their Former Slave Colonies

Image Description: Members of the Danish ruling class salute the flagship Esbern Snare before its send-off to the Gulf of Guinea.


Edith B.


  • The crew of a Danish imperialist flagship carried out extrajudicial executions of four „suspected pirates“ following an illegal attack on a nine-person vessel in the Gulf of Guinea.
  • This is part of the Danish imperialists‘ war of aggression in Western Africa, which is a continuation of centuries-old policies of slavery and colonialism.
  • The African peoples will not accept imperialist wars of aggression, exploitation and colonialism. The 21st century will be a century of awakening for the African working class and peoples.

In one of the most blatant acts of aggression by a European imperialist power against third world nations committed in many years, the imperialist Royal Danish Marine has illegally executed four persons, killed one, maimed another and imprisoned at least four, off the coast of Nigeria on Wednesday the 2nd of December, 2021.1

The Danish imperialists have been present in the Gulf of Guinea as part of Operation Meridian, which is scheduled to last for five months. The operation began in November and will last until April.

The incident in question occurred on Wednesday. According to Al Jazeera:

A Danish naval patrol killed four pirates in an exchange of fire in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Nigeria, Denmark‘s armed forces say.


The incident happened outside Nigeria‘s territorial waters, a spokesman said.

The incident occurred on Wednesday when the frigate Esbern Snare, which has been patrolling the area since early November, attempted to board the pirate boat.

The Danish forces fired warning shots, and the pirates immediately fired back.


The remaining four pirates were taken on board the frigate, the military said. After the shooting, the pirate ship sank.“2

This is an act of aggression violating international as well as Danish law. The event took place in international waters close to the territorial waters of Nigeria. However, as was made clear by Danish authorities:

The case has gotten attention because it was already clear beforehand that Denmark had not succeeded in establishing agreements about carrying out legal processes with some of the coastal States, when the frigate left port.“3

In other words — a Danish military vessel fired on a „suspected pirate vessel“ in a place where Danish military vessels have no business being, with no agreements with the actual authorities in the region, and then proceeded to illegally execute the crew of the „suspected pirate vessel“, who were not Danish, but Nigerian citizens. The aftermath of the war crime looks as follows:

One suspected pirate on the Esbern Snare had the leg amputated following bullet wounds. Four others are laying dead in the ship‘s freezer. A sixth most likely drowned. Three others are imprisoned in wire cages onboard.“4

Emeka Akabogu, a Nigerian lawyer specializing in maritime law, told Danish State TV the following:

From what we know about the episode, we might as well talk about extrajudicial executions.


We have not yet seen facts proving that this was a case of piracy, and we have not yet seen proof that they intended to attack a ship. So under certain conditions, this can be viewed as a summary execution.“5

Indeed, a war crime has been committed by the Danish imperialists against civilians off the coast of Nigeria. And why? The Danish Minister of Defense stated:

The purpose of being in the Gulf of Guinea is not to catch pirates. We are not present in order to chase pirates, capture them and put them behind bars. But if it does happen anyway, there are also guidelines for that. And not least, intense work is being done in order to finalize the agreements with the countries in the local area.“6

Indeed, the purpose of the operation is protecting Danish and other commercial vessels in the region7, according to Minister of Defense Bramsen.

From this admission by the imperialists themselves, one can clearly see the actual financial interests behind the aggressive military operation which Denmark is carrying out in the Gulf of Guinea. The purpose is the protection of Danish and allied economic and financial interests.

But there‘s more! Not only do the Danish imperialists view their own financial interests as a legitimate casus belli (or cause) for waging war on the people of Western Africa. They also claim extra-territoriality, like the imperialists used to do in China before the revolution there. Extra-territoriality means that the citizens of State A are not subject to the laws of State B, even when they are present in the territory of State B, but rather subject to the laws of State A no matter where they are. This was demonstrated in the show trial against the „suspected pirates“, who were not tried according to Nigerian law (even though they were Nigerian citizens, on a Nigerian vessel and closest to the territory of Nigeria). No — they were tried in absentia according to Danish law:

For the next 13 days, the four suspected pirates are to be administratively imprisoned, after they yesterday were in a close firefight with soldiers from the Frogmen‘s Corps.

That was decided by a judge of the Copenhagen City Court today.

The four persons are accused of attempted murder of the Danish soldiers […]

It is unknown what position they take on the charge, but the four were administratively imprisoned in absentia — that is, without being physically present in the city court.“8

This is a complete joke! Trying Nigerian citizens for a supposed crime (defending your vessel against an aggressor vessel) off the coast of Nigeria, according to Danish law!? This is nothing but the principle of extra-territoriality applied in reverse — in complete violation of the Convention on the High Seas, which stipulates:

Ships shall sail under the flag of one State only and, save in exceptional cases expressly provided for in international treaties or in these articles, shall be subject to its exclusive jurisdiction on the high seas.“9

Furthermore, even if this ship was indeed a pirate ship, as the Danish imperialists claim, the following still applies:

A ship or aircraft may retain its nationality although it has become a pirate ship or aircraft. The retention or loss of nationality is determined by the law of the State from which such nationality was derived.“10

From the fact that Denmark signed no agreement with Nigeria and had to try the „pirates“ itself, we know that Nigeria did not take away the nationality of the vessel in question. The fact is clear: The Danish imperialist bourgeoisie breaks the very international law that it itself claims to adhere to!

Karl Marx pointed out:

Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10% will ensure its employment anywhere; 20% certain will produce eagerness; 50%, positive audacity; 100% will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300%, and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the slave-trade have amply proved all that is here stated.“11

One particular historical characteristic of the development of Danish imperialism was its reliance on trade with other imperialist superpowers and powers in order to get a share of „their“ colonial super-profits. Lenin explained:

[…] a specific feature of Danish imperialism is the superprofits it obtains from its monopolistically advantageous position in the meat and dairy produce market: using cheap maritime transport, she supplies the world‘s biggest market, London. As a result, the Danish bourgeoisie and the rich Danish peasants (bourgeois of the purest type, in spite of the fables of the Russian narodniks) have become ‚prosperous‘ satellites of the British imperialist bourgeoisie, sharing their particularly easy and particularly fat profits.“12

However, Danish imperialism has built its economic and financial world empire on the foundation of its own primitive accumulation — through slavery, the colonization of Greenland and the Faroe Islands (which remain colonies of Denmark to this day), the brutal enclosure of the Danish peasantry, etc. Danish capital could not have emerged without such crimes. Karl Marx pointed out:

[So great a task it was] to establish the ‚eternal laws of nature‘ of the capitalist mode of production, to complete the process of separation between labourers and conditions of labour, to transform, at one pole, the social means of production and subsistence into capital, at the opposite pole, the mass of the population into wage labourers, into ‚free labouring poor‘, that artificial product of modern society. If money, according to Augier, ‚comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek‘, capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.“13

Danish capitalism, as it transitioned to the stage of monopoly, continued with these practices, so as to consolidate its own position of strength in the era of imperialism. Lenin pointed out how the sale of the Virgin Islands to U.S. imperialism was part of this policy:

This is being said in the 20th century by the bourgeoisie and the monarchists of Denmark, who possess colonies with a population nearly equal to the number of Danes in Germany, and over which the Danish Government is trying to strike a bargain.

Who says that in our day there is no trade in human beings? There is quite a brisk trade. Denmark is selling to the USA for so many millions (not yet agreed upon) three islands, all populated, of course.“14

The Danish imperialists allied first with German imperialism in the 1st and 2nd World Wars and then with U.S. imperialism during the Cold War. Today, as tensions with the USA have increased due to such contradictions as the question of control of the fossil fuel resources in the Arctic Ocean, Danish imperialism is once more increasingly taking the side of German imperialism in its new bid to become a superpower and transform the European Union into a consolidated imperialist bloc — a project which Swiss imperialism is increasingly aligning itself with, hoping to receive a key position in Germany‘s superpower project. But even as it allies with the big powers, Danish imperialism increases to pursue its own amibitions — mainly in its own former colonies.

The Gulf of Guinea stretches between Gabon in the south-east and Ghana in the north-west. Ghana was a former Danish slave colony, known as the „Gold Coast“ — more than 100,000 Black people were taken as slaves from Ghana and brought to the Virgin Islands by Danish colonialists, which constituted the primitive accumulation of Danish capitalism. The Danish „welfare State“ is built on the blood of Africans — then as well as now.

The present-day Danish colonial empire spans three countries and a significant amount of oceanic territory in the Arctic and North Seas.

Operation Meridian is part of the continuation of the Danish legacy of colonialism and the slave trade in the Gulf of Guinea. Before the abolition of slavery in 1848 and the sale of the Gold Coast to Great Britain, Ghana was part of the Danish Empire. Thousands upon thousands of people were kidnapped and shipped off to certain death in the Danish Holocaust on the Virgin Islands from precisely those shores which the Danish imperialists are now once again patrolling. As with Greenland, the Danish imperialists are continuing their legacy of genocide for the sake of profit in Africa as well.

Lenin pointed out:

And you know that, apart from direct State, juridical dependence, colonial dependence presupposes a number of relations of financial and economic dependence, presupposes a number of wars, which were not regarded as wars because very often they amounted to sheer massacres, when European and U.S. imperialist troops, armed with the most perfect weapons of destruction, massacred the unarmed and defenseless inhabitants of colonial countries.“15

The nations of Africa are under assault from all sides by imperialist wars of conquest and aggression. In Mali, the European imperialists, headed by France, are carrying out a blatant colonial war of conquest, with such atrocities as the decapitation of Malian partisans by the French Foreign Legion taking place. Ethiopia is being ripped apart by the U.S. imperialists on the one hand and the Chinese social-imperialists on the other. Central Africa is a playground for Russian mercenaries trying to conquer the diamond mines. In Congo, the imperialists are backing tens of different warlord factions so as to conquer for themselves a slice of the cobalt mines. And in the Gulf of Guinea and the Horn of Africa, the Danish and other imperialists are carrying out punitive expeditions against supposed piracy, which is nothing else than the response of the robbed nations to their robber nations sailing the loot right past their noses in the first place.

But as hopeless as the situation seems, it is only the darkness before the dawn. As Comrade Amilcar Cabral, the greatest communist revolutionary ever produced by the African continent, correctly stated on the eve of the Guinean people‘s war against Portuguese colonialism:

No power can shake us from our determination, nor prevent the rapid and total elimination of Portuguese domination in our countries.

However, to free themselves from foreign domination is not the only desire of our peoples. They have learned by experience under colonial oppression that the exploitation of human by human is the biggest obstacle in the way of the development and progress of a people beyond national liberation. They are determined to take an active part in the building of a new Africa, truly independent and progressive, founded on work and justice, in which the creative power of our people which has been stifled for centuries will find its truest and most constructive expression.


Whatever the forces of the enemy, our victory over Portuguese colonialism depends mainly on ourselves, on our own militants. We must be conscious of the real forces at our disposal and base our revolutionary work on the people‘s masses.“16

The oppressed and exploited nations of Africa, whether colonial (as in the Canary Islands and Western Sahara) or semi-colonial (as in most countries on the continent) must unite to kick out the imperialists once and for all. The five centuries of humiliation of the great continent by the imperialists and colonialists will finally come to an end in the 21st century — as the African peoples unite as one, under the leadership of the modern proletariat, which imperialist investment is rapidly generating all over the continent, and found and refound Communist Parties to direct them in people‘s war against the foreign oppressors.

Guerrillas of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, led by Comrade Amilcar Cabral, with a downed Portuguese colonialist airplane. We hope to see some downed Danish helicopters in Western Africa soon as well.

Such Communist Parties cannot rely on imported dogma. They must apply the principles of marxism-leninism-maoism creatively. Africa has great variety in its social composition. There are primitive-communist societies, slave societies, feudal and semi-feudal societies, as well as varying degrees of development of bureaucratic-comprador capitalism. In a future series of articles, I will attempt to investigate some of these particularities. For example, two of the colonial countries on the African continent — the Canary Islands and Western Sahara — while victims of colonialism, are colonies of countries which themselves are semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries under imperialist domination (Spain and Morocco, respectively). This is an important specific characteristic to keep in mind. Amilcar Cabral pointed this out when he spoke of Portuguese colonialism.17

Mao Tse-tung pointed out:

The question of establishing a Communist Party must rest on whether there are any industrial workers. I see that there are industries in Africa. Many of the countries have industries, some have been established by the imperialists and some have been established by the Africans themselves; there are mines, railroads, highways, and other industries. Although there is no Communist Party at present, there will be one of these days.“18

He also made clear:

A new upsurge in the struggle against U.S. imperialism is now emerging throughout the world. Ever since the 2nd World War, U.S. imperialism and its followers have been continuously launching wars of aggression and the people in various countries have been continuously waging revolutionary wars to defeat the aggressors. The danger of a new world war still exists, and the people of all countries must get prepared. But revolution is the main trend in the world today.


U.S. imperialism, which looks like a huge monster, is in essence a paper tiger, now in the throes of its deathbed struggle. In the world of today, who actually fears whom? It is not the Vietnamese people, the Laotian people, the Kampuchean people, the Palestinian people, the Arab people or the people of other countries who fear U.S. imperialism; it is U.S. imperialism which fears the people of the world. It becomes panic-stricken at the mere rustle of leaves in the wind. Innumerable facts prove that a just cause enjoys abundant support while an unjust cause finds little support. A weak nation can defeat a strong, a small nation can defeat a big. The people of a small country can certainly defeat aggression by a big country, if only they dare to rise in struggle, dare to take up arms and grasp in their own hands the destiny of their country. This is a law of history.“19

The Danish imperialists, as well as all the other imperialist and colonial powers, will fall. When the African giant finally rises, the chains binding 90% of the world population will shatter, and all the enemies of the people will crawl back down in their holes and take the same coward‘s way out as Hitler did when he finally met the Soviet giant.




(Below, we reproduce an excellent poster by Comrade Rashid of the Revolutionary Intercommunalist Black Panther Party in the Black nation of the USA, which calls for precisely the unity of Africa in people‘s war against imperialism and colonialism.)











11T. J. Dunning, quoted in Karl Marx: „Capital“, Volume One, 1867.

12V. I. Lenin: „Ten ‚Socialist‘ Ministers!“, 06.11.1916.

13Karl Marx: „Capital“, Volume One, 1867.

14V. I. Lenin: „Ten ‚Socialist‘ Ministers!“, 06.11.1916.

15V. I. Lenin: „The 2nd World Congress of the Communist 3rd International“, July-August 1920.

16Amilcar Cabral: „Guinea and Cape Verde Against Portuguese Colonialism“, March 1961.

17Amilcar Cabral pointed out: „Faced with the power of the main imperialist nations, one is forced to wonder how it was possible for Portugal, an underdeveloped and backward country, to retain its colonies in spite of the redistribution to which the world was subjected. Portuguese colonialism managed to survive despite the sharing-out of Africa made by the imperialist powers at the end of the 19th century because England supported the ambitions of Portugal which, since the treaty of Metwen in 1703 had become a semi-colony of England. England had every interest in using the Portuguese colonies, not only to exploit their economic resources, but also to occupy them as support bases on the route to the Orient, and thus to maintain absolute domination in the Indian Ocean. To counter the greed of the other colonialist powers and to defend its interests in the Portuguese colonies, England found the best solution: it defended the ‚rights‘ of its semi-colony. That is why, for example, Portugal granted to a private enterprise controlled by English interests sovereign rights over an area covering 17% of the total territory of Mozambique.

In fact Portugal has been no more than the sometimes envious guardian of the human and material resources of our countries, at the service of world imperialism. That is the real reason for the survival of Portuguese colonialism in Africa, and for the possible prolonging of our struggle. Thus to a greater extent than the presence of other powers in Africa, the presence of Portugal has been, and still is dependent on the presence of other colonising powers, mainly England.“ („Guinea and Cape Verde Against Portuguese Colonialism“.)

Lenin had also pointed out previously:

A somewhat different form of financial and diplomatic dependence, accompanied by political independence, is presented by Portugal. Portugal is an independent sovereign State, but actually, for more than 200 years, since the war of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), it has been a British protectorate. Great Britain has protected Portugal and its colonies in order to fortify its own positions in the fight against its rivals, Spain and France. In return Great Britain has received commercial privileges, preferential conditions for importing goods and especially capital into Portugal and the Portuguese colonies, the right to use the ports and islands of Portugal, its telegraph cables, and so on and so forth. Relations of this kind have always existed between big and little States, but in the epoch of capitalist imperialism they become a general system, they form part of the sum total of ‚divide the world‘ relations and become links in the chain of operations of world finance capital.“ („Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism“.)

A similar situation exists with regards to Spain, which never had a bourgeois-democratic revolution of its own. To insist that Spain is imperialist — which is often done by the mouthpiece of the modern-day 2nd International, ci-ic.org, is in essence to proclaim Fransisco Franco a bourgeois-democratic revolutionary. It is tailing the Spanish bureaucratic-comprador and landlord class and leaving the Spanish proletariat isolated in its fight for new democracy of its own, which must be in solidarity with the nations colonized by the imperialists through Spain — such as the Canary Islands — and the internal colonies of Spain, which find themselves in a peculiar situation. It is also no surprise that the new revisionists promote the purest bundism when it comes to Spain, since they don‘t understand the character of the Spanish revolution. The topic of Spain, Portugal, and so on, will also be discussed in a later article of mine.

18Chairman Mao Tse-tung: „Conversation with the Zanzibar Expert M. M. Ali and His Wife“, 18.06.1964.

19Chairman Mao Tse-tung: „People of the World, Unite and Defeat the U.S. Aggressors and All Their Running Dogs!“, 23.05.1970.