The Canadian Abandonment of Omar Khadr Rant
The American gulag in Guantanamo Bay has one - just one - remaining Western captive still being held by the U.S. government. His name is Omar Khadr. And he's Canadian. Every other Western government did all it could and eventually won the release of every single one of its citizens held in that Kafkaesque joke of a camp. But not our government. No, the Canadian government has abandoned this guy. And the worst thing is he was already abandoned back when he was just a 15 year old kid. That's how old he was when the American's locked him up and started their mental and physical torture regiment on him. Torturing kids? Yup, that's how fucked up the American government has become. Abandoning Canadian kids in foreign gulags? You bet, that's exactly how fucked up the Canadian government has become.
Rolling Stone magazine wrote an excellent in-depth feature on Khadr last year called "The Unending Torture of Omar Khadr". Well worth reading if you're at all concerned with America, or any other liberal democracy, torturing prisoners, particularly 15-year-old prisoners. This kid, according to those bozos in the White House and the Pentagon, is one of the most dangerous threats to Western Civilization alive today. But, that's the Bush Administration, which is nearly universally disdained and is obviously more than just a little loony, paranoid and illogical. But what's with the Canadian government? That's what I want to know. How is it possible for the Canadian government to show a complete lack of interest in one of its citizens being held incommunicado for years and years. Yes, it's true, Khadr now has American lawyers representing him in his show trial at Guantanamo, which sort of began this past week, but the fact is he's been denied his rights as a captive prisoner of war for 5 years now. And the Canadian government, it would seem, simply couldn't care less. And where, by the way, is the outrage by the good people of Canada?
Our government has not just abandoned a Canadian citizen, it has abandoned a minor to torture, solitary confinement and a farce of a trial. Are we so petty that we don't even stand up for our child citizens held illegally and denied the protections of the Geneva Conventions? Even Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have won the freedom of many of their nationals held at Guantanamo. We don't even try. Doesn't this piss anyone else off?
I'm hardly a defender of the Taliban. In fact, I used to rant and rave to friends about the horrors being perpetrated by the Taliban on the people of Afghanistan back in the '90s, but this isn't about that. This is about a Canadian kid being locked away and tortured by Canada's number one ally while our government stands by not lifting a finger.
In case you haven't heard already, Khadr is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier and injured another in Afghanistan back in 2002 when, like I said, he was just 15 years old. He was taken there to Afghanistan at an even earlier age by his radical bin Laden-loving father and was subsequently brainwashed into believing he should fight for the Taliban and/or Al-Qaeda. Or maybe he wasn't brainwashed. Either way, he fought the Americans when they invaded the country he was living in and, therefore, the Americans, using their ridiculous Orwellian Doublespeak bullshit, call him an "unlawful combatant" (whatever the hell that means). It's a term with no legal meaning under international law. It's truly straight outta, well, if not Compton, then Kafka. That's right, straight outta Kafka! If you haven't figured it out yet, an unlawful combatant is who- and whatever the Americans say an unlawful combatant is. Farcical, straight and simple.
They call Khadr a murderer, but he was fighting in a war on the other side. They call him a dangerous terrorist, but he was just a kid. They call him a war criminal for fighting for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan as a teenager. But I'll tell you who I consider the real war criminals, pilots who drop bombs on villages, towns and cities, slaughtering hundreds or even thousands, simply "because those were my orders". Mass slaughter of civilians, all part of a day's work, eh? Now that's a war criminal for ya. Though I realize that in certain war-loving countries they're actually called "heroes".
Anyhow, back to Omar, the American gulag, and the pathetic Canadian government.
Back in August the Canadian Bar Association demanded that the Canadian government stand up for Khadr's rights, as did Amnesty International in this plea by Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty's Canadian arm:
"His rights as a child, including to be considered a child soldier were ignored. His right to freely choose his legal counsel -- ignored. His right to a fair legal process -- ignored. His right to be protected from torture and ill treatment -- ignored. Canada can no longer remain silent."
But our government did, in fact, remain silent... even after Neve presented an open letter to Prime Minister Harper that was signed by 25 current and former parliamentarians, including several former foreign affairs ministers, as well as academics, lawyers and human rights groups. "This letter makes it absolutely clear that Canadians want the Canadian government to act now, to restore Omar Khadr's fundamental rights and to call for an end to the travesty of justice that Guantanamo Bay has become," Neve said. "His case now almost stands alone in terms of individuals who have been abandoned by their government," Neve continued. So what did Harper and Co. do?
Nothin'. Nada. Zip... a dee do da. That's what our government did and continues to do to this day. You might want to say it has something to do with Harper's ass-kissing love of George Bush, but the reality is the Liberals did absolutely nothing for Khadr when they were in power either.
So, where is the justice? Are we really the type of nation that is comfortable with this situation? Can we really call ourselves a just nation if we abandon kids to overseas prison camps? Am I the only one who feels ashamed, repulsed and sickened by this? A Canadian kid thrown into a gulag, a Canadian kid tortured, a Canadian kid abandoned. It's simply sad... sad, pathetic and shameful.
And that's all I have to say on this sleazy, sordid, sorry situation.
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Saturday, November 10th, 2007