The Price of a Human Life

Prof. Hovhannes I. Pilikian,The Open University, 23 November 2010

Hrant Dink was an Armenian journalist who was assassinated in Turkey in 2007. In September the Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey failed to protect his life and must pay his family 105,000 Euros compensation. Hrant’s friend and fellow Armenian scholar, Professor Hovhanness Pilikian, reacts for Society Matters…

Hrant Dink – I knew him well, Horatio … Alive, he was one man who could reconcile the Armenians with their genociders, the Turks. Hrant was murdered in Turkey in 2007 by those who obviously do not want such a deal. The killers? As with all political assassinations anywhere in the world, you might safely start with the CIA …

Prof. Hovhannes I. Pilikian,The Open University, 23 November 2010

Hrant Dink was an Armenian journalist who was assassinated in Turkey in 2007. In September the Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey failed to protect his life and must pay his family 105,000 Euros compensation. Hrant’s friend and fellow Armenian scholar, Professor Hovhanness Pilikian, reacts for Society Matters…

Hrant Dink – I knew him well, Horatio … Alive, he was one man who could reconcile the Armenians with their genociders, the Turks. Hrant was murdered in Turkey in 2007 by those who obviously do not want such a deal. The killers? As with all political assassinations anywhere in the world, you might safely start with the CIA …

I should be delighted that the European Union Court of Human Rights has ordered a compensation to the family of 105,000 Euros – the precision is jaw-dropping, why not as the British do add £3.03 for postage … or make it a fiver if you feel generous today!

There is a spine-chilling sordidness about this news I find despicable – the shamelessness that any committee can decide the price of a priceless human being. For me, not even a billion is enough as a price tag for my friend Hrant Dink.

As during the times of slavery, there may soon arise a hierarchy of price tags – what price a Dr Kelly, the British UN weapons inspector in Iraq? What’s the price tag for Allende, the once democratically elected President of Peru murdered by now the self-confessed CIA braggarts? Should the European Court force our Mrs Thatcher still alive to pay the compensation, as she was the defiant defender of the arch-murderer Pinochet, when he was arrested in London?

In the Marxist system of Das Kapital, everything, but everything has a price – when it comes to money-making, there is no ethics, no common humane decencies; profit is the only interest (pun intended!) of transactions. And I think it is this which makes me despise it – the commoditisation of the human being, which is what gave rise to formal slavery in the first place, and post-modern whoredom today.

While I welcome the EU decision – it may even be a first in historical terms evaluating the dead (not only compensating the injured) – I abhor its grand formalisation of the capitalist commoditisation of human beings. Hitherto the dead were commemorated in stone, public sculptures and poetry. Now, political assassinations are turned into a profitable business. And this sends chills down my spine.

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