SYDNEY – The Sydney hostages pleaded for help — for those among them who were pregnant, sick and elderly. Also for those who were young and deserved a shot at a decent life.
After a gunman took 17 hostages at a downtown cafe Monday morning, he used them to try to make his strange demands through social and mainstream media: to be delivered a flag of the Islamic State group and to speak directly with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Video links were quickly removed from YouTube and other conversations went unpublished by newspapers and radio stations while the drama unfolded, lest they compromise the police response.
The 16-hour siege ended early Tuesday in a barrage of gunfire that left the gunman and two hostages dead. Some of the conversations and videos made by the hostages under duress have now been released.
One hostage called The Daily Telegraph newspaper, identifying her captor, 50-year-old Man Haron Monis, as "the brother."
"The brother has looked after us all; we're very, very tired," she told a reporter at the newspaper. "We've got pregnant ladies in here, and we've got sick and elderly, and we are very, very tired, and some very young staff who deserve to have a decent, normal life at this point, so get us the hell out of here, please."
The hostage said the gunman was next to her: "He's sitting right here, I have you on speaker, I can't compromise myself and my fellow hostages," she said, adding that people didn't seem to understand the danger they were facing: "We are not going to walk out of here," she said, later adding, "We just want to get out of here."
In a video message, filmed in front of a black Shahada flag with the Islamic declaration of faith written on it, one hostage said her captor had placed bombs around the city — which turned out to be untrue — and that he couldn't understand why his demands hadn't been met: "He's only asking for a flag and a phone call, and that's it," she said.