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The Tragedy of Omar Khadr


Omar Khadr, a then 15 year old Canadian citizen captured in Afghanistan by the US in 2002, held at Guantanamo Bay and labelled an 'enemy combatant', will will soon face a Military Commission 'trial'.

The incidents leading to his capture: (from Wikipedia, links intact)
On July 27, 2002, 15-year-old Khadr was in a compound near Khost that was surrounded by US special forces. According to Master Sgt Scotty Hansen of Utah, "we [sent] a couple of Afghan interpreters to go in and talk to them because we didn't want to be storm troopers unless we had to." The two interpreters were shot "point blank in the face," however, according to Sergeant Layne Morris, after which "all heck broke out," according to Hansen[6]. Sergeant Layne Morris was injured early in the skirmish. The Americans called in a devastating air strike, such that no survivors were expected. Khadr, however, survived and allegedly threw a grenade, which injured Sgt. Christopher Speer and led to his death, and injured three other members of the squad.[4] Omar was shot three times, and left nearly blind in one eye.

Unlike most other inmates at Guantanamo, charges have been laid against him, first on Nov. 7th 2005 with conspiracy, murder, attempted murder and aiding the enemy. Then on Feb. 2nd 2007 more charges were brought: murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, spying, and providing material support for terrorism. These were then dismissed and then later reinstated. More...

Read the above account of his capture and tell me if these charges make sense. Conspiracy? To what, protect himself? Spying? On who, the Taliban? Murder? And what of the "...devastating air strike, such that no survivors were expected."?

He was 15 fucking years old, having been indoctrinated by his father into a militant mindset, in a country ravaged by war and colonialism for decades which had just been invaded illegally under false pretenses by the most powerful army on the planet. What's he going to do, tell his dad to go to hell, I'm joining the Salvation Army? Maybe, to fit with the circus of legal limbo he finds himself mired in, he should have been charged with 'the audacity not to have died on schedule'.

In 2006, Khadr was finally granted permission to see his lawyers. But subsequently this right has been redacted:
Omar Khadr fought for the right to consult with Canadian lawyers since his arrival at Guantanamo.[32] In 2006 Dennis Edney and Nathan Whiting were given permission to visit him at Guantanamo. However, in late October, the new Chief Defense counsel barred Edney from visiting Khadr, or attending his trial.[33] According to the Associated Press Edney was barred because he has criticized Lieutenant Commander Keubler's efforts.

From Edney:
"It's a travesty of justice. It's dark politics that's what it is. The office of the military defence counsel is giving the impression that it's working in Omar's best interest when they're denying his fundamental right to choice of counsel."

While detained, Khadr suffered inhumane treatment. From Amnesty International.:
...he says he has been beaten, “short shackled” (wrists and ankles chained together to a fixed point on the ground), exposed to extreme temperatures, held in isolation for prolonged periods and threatened with rape. An expert on the mental health of juveniles in correctional facilities... concluded that Omar Khadr’s symptoms were “consistent with those exhibited by victims of torture” and he had a mental disorder “including but not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder.”

And the official Government of Canada response to the whole situation? There is this inexplicable ruling:
In August 2005, the Federal Court of Canada issued an injunction barring Canadian officials from conducting any further interviews or questioning him on a variety of the grounds including that his rights were not being adequately protected.

And pathetically from then Defence Minister Bill Graham:
"It is an unfortunate reality that juveniles are too often the victims in military actions and that many groups and countries actively recruit and use them in armed conflicts and in terrorist activities. Canada is working hard to eliminate these practices, but child soldiers still exist, in Afghanistan, and in other parts of the world."

But strangely, Canada's involvement in Afghanistan continues unabated despite the prevalence of child soldiers there. What do you suppose 'working hard to eliminate these practices' means in this situation?

The kowtowing Harper government needs to defend Canadian citizens' rights no matter who they are or what they are accused of. We are not subject to Orwellian US law. Omar Khadr has the absolute right to be tried by jury in Canada.

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