Friday, March 13, 2009

The price of a Life

I read this morning in the Globe and Mail about how a Canadian freelance journalist was kidnapped back in November and about how the Taliban were asking for a 375,000$ ransom in exchange for her life. The woman's name is Beverly Giesbrecht, also known as Khadija Abdul Qahaar, after converting to Islam. She publishes a pro-Islamic website, Jihad Unspun.

I'm not sure what the Canadian government is going to do, but I'm assuming we'll pay the ransom and get this woman back to West Vancouver as soon as possible. Regardless of her political views she is still a Canadian and should be treated with the same respect as any other Canadian would if he/she were in the situation.

The whole article has lead me to ask myself: who comes up with these dollar amounts and how are they evaluated? What is the price of a human life? How is a life valued?

Does the ransom amount depend on your job, your looks, your country of origin? Your countries willingness to pay? I'm not sure, but I find the idea of putting a price tag on a life something absolutely disgusting.

Just by typing the words TALIBAN and RANSOM into Google I came up with a few figures:
-Korea paid 4,000,000$ for the release of 21 hostages (190,476$ each)
-Korea also paid 20,000,000 for the release of 19 hostages (1,052,631$ each)
-Channel 4 (England) paid 150,000GPB (266,736$ CDN) for a hostage
-India paid 15,000,000INR (370,212$ CDN) for the release of a hostage

Newsweek claims that ransom demands is the second largest source of income for the Taliban. Which also brings me to the question of: how can we stop these kidnappings if we keep paying? And the even bigger question of: Are we willing to sacrifice people to end the cycle of extortion and kidnapping?

One the one hand, I hate the idea of paying a terrorist group any amount of money for any kind of reason. But I hate even more the idea that people are held captive and may die if we don't. It's a lose-lose situation. If someone dies, we lose. If we pay, we lose.

All I have to say is that I find this entire practice of kidnapping to be absolutely appalling and that anyone from any faith, Islam or anything else, should be punished by whatever god they believe in when judgment day comes.

Muchacho Enfermo

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