"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Amanda Lindhout 'Fears Dying in Captivity'

I have written previously about Amanda Lindhout, the Canadian journalist captured in Somalia by militants.

It was reported at the time that the 27 year old was pregnant after being raped repeatedly by her captors, who are demanding $2.5 million for her release.

It seems that yesterday someone claiming to be her contacted a Canadian news agency:

A woman claiming to be Amanda Lindhout, a freelance Canadian journalist being held hostage in Somalia, called CTV’s National newsroom Wednesday afternoon, appearing to be reading from a statement in which she says she fears dying in captivity and pleads with the Canadian government to help bring her home.

“I’ve been held hostage by gunmen in Somalia for nearly 10 months. I’m in a desperate situation, I’m being kept in a dark, windowless room in chains, without any clean drinking water and little or no food. I’ve been very sick for months without any medicine,” she told CTV News.

She said she’s in need of “immediate aid” and begs the Canadian government to help her family to pay her ransom. “Without it, I will die here,” she said.
“I also tell them that they must deal directly with these people, (for) my life depends on it.”

Lindhout is a freelance print and television journalist from Sylvan Lake, Alta.

She travelled to Somalia on Aug. 20 to cover the famine and violence in Sudan for a French television station.

Three days after arriving in the capital city of Mogadishu, she and a group, including photographer Nigel Brennan of Australia, left a hotel to visit a refugee camp about 30 kilometers to the south. They were stopped on the road and abducted.

The kidnappers have been identified as a group called the Mujahedeen of Somalia, They originally demanded $2.5 million but have lowered their ransom price to $1 million.

According to reports, it’s believed the pair’s captors are moving them from location to location — and that negotiations for their release have broken down a number of times.

At the time of the abduction, Lindhout was 27 and Brennan was 37. The other members of the group, all locals, were released.

Lindhout had also worked in Afghanistan and has reported from overseas for Alberta’s Red Deer Advocate newspaper.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs would not comment on the case.

Transcript of the telephone statement made to CTV News from someone purporting to be Amanda Lindhout on Wednesday, June 10, 2009:

”Um. Yeah. I have a statement I can read and that’s all I can say. So…My name is Amanda Lindhout. I’m a Canadian citizen and I’ve been held hostage by gunmen in Somalia for nearly 10 months. I’m in a desperate situation. I’m being kept in a dark, windowless room in chains without any clean drinking water and little food or no food. I’ve been very sick for months without any medicine.

I’m begging my government and fellow Canadian citizens to assist my family in paying my ransom. The Canadian government must have some duty to help its citizen in such a crisis, and my fellow citizens to assist me by putting pressure on my government.

I love my country and I want to live to see it again. Without food or medicine, I will die here and I’m in need of immediate aid. I implore my family whom I love more than anything to continue searching for money for my release. Without it, I will die here.

I will also tell them that they must deal directly with these people, if my life depends on it. My life is worth more than any money spent. To fellow journalists in Canada, please help bring attention to my situation and contribute in anyway possible, in order that I may return home to Canada. That’s all I can say.”

I must say I have mixed feelings about this.

I genuinely sympathise with Lindhout and her colleague and wish for their well being and safe release.

However, I do wonder what they were doing there in the first place, and just what they hoped to achieve.

The ransom will be used to fund terrorist activity, Islamist gangs and bandits, as well as kill and maim innocent people.

Once the Canadian government is seen as willing to negotiate and pay a ransom, Canadian citizens may well be in more danger in the more troubled regions of the world.

Let's hope that if anything, people learn from Lindhout's mistake.

Hat tip: Vlad Tepes.

4 comments:

Dr.D said...

How do you suppose it would work to pay the money, retrieve Amanda, then napalm the entire village where she was held, and bring her home and tell her she is responsible for all cost of getting her back? That would discourage the Somalis and others from doing this again, and it would discourage Amanda and others from doing it again also. It seems like a win-win!

Nemesis said...

Dr.D...a little like those world adventurers who place themselves at risk in oreder to get their 'jollies'. In this regard, Tony Bullimore comes to mind here. He was rescued, a few years ago now, by the Aussie Navy from the Great Southern Ocean in which his boat had overturned. This stretch of ocean has a reputation for being one of the worlds most treachorous. Yet, Bullimore singlehandedly sailed his boat into it knowing full well the risks involved.

Would he have done so if the Aussie Navy had not been available to rescue him?

His rescue amounted to over a million dollars and while some would write this expenditure off as a valuable exercise for all those concerned, I would venture to say that the money would have been better spent elsewhere!

Which raises the same question that you have raised. Would knowing that he would be required to pay for any rescue attempt have dissauded him from his little adventure?

freeamandafreenigel said...

The public apathy shown Miss Lindhout is mind boggling. You don't often hear such comments made concerning male reporters going into dangerous countires; and if one does, it's usually with a reverence for their courage, as opposed to it being considered pretty stupid to put themselves in danger like that.

It shouldn't matter that Lindhout was a 'freelance' journalist, a woman or someone who took pride in how she looked, yes even in a foreign country. I'm not so niave as to think it doesn't matter, especially after reading some of the comments made to news reports about her.

What should matter is that she's a fellow Canadian being held against her will. If these outdated mindsets don't change neither will this planet.

Please sign Petition:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/free-amanda-and-nigel

Anonymous said...

You sit here and say she put herself there. Well, the truth will set you free and without brave people like her going into these war and famine zones to tell the truth about the atrocities we in the West will never know what's really happening. You can't trust BBC. Give her a flaming break!

I hope if you're ever in an unfortunate situation you will not be judged so harshly.