Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Those of us who have followed Omar Khadr’s situation are profoundly shocked at the outrage expressed by some Canadians at the compensation Khadr has been awarded as a result of the shameful — and even criminal — treatment he suffered from the Canadian government(s). The negative reactions demonstrate some combination of ignorance of the facts of Khadr’s case and blatant racism.
The compensation has been awarded because of the many ways in which our government betrayed its obligations to Omar Khadr.
I wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister Ralph Goodale, and my own MP in support of the decision to apologize to Omar Khadr and pay him compensation.
As a Canadian of conscience, please take a few minutes to send your MP a letter that supports the government’s effort at justice for Omar Khadr to counter the reactions that do not reflect our values.
1. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
E-mail: Justin.Trudeau@parl.gov.ca tel: 613-995-0253
2. Minister Ralph Goodale
E-mail: Ralph.Goodale@parl.gov.ca tel: 613-947-1153
3. You Member of Parliament (see below)
Find you MP and his/her address by following the instructions from the CJPME WEBSITE:
If you don’t already know who your Member of Parliament (MP) is, there are two steps to determining this.
First, determine what federal riding you are in. This can be done by entering your postal code into the Canadian Elections Website main page: http://www.elections.ca Once you have determined your riding, you can go to the Canada Parliament Website to determine your MP: http://www.parl.gc.ca After you have chosen your language preference, there is a link Members of Parliament in the center of the Parliament main page. When you click on this link, you will see all the members of parliament with their ridings indicated. Search on this page for your riding, and you will identify your MP.
The rule of law demands that there be a remedy – no government can act as if it is above the law. The reported settlement and apology recognizes this principle that is critical to the protection of everybody’s rights.
If you wish, please copy me so that I can share your support for justice with Omar Khadar, who must be devastated by the ugliness of so many of the responses.
You can access the very informative article BCCLA from July 5 here.
For those who are interested in more of the background, here are some of the details that came out:
Omar Khadr was born in Canada and at 9 years old, his father took him to Afghanistan.
Omar Khadr, when a child of 15 in Afghanistan, was found badly injured in a building the US had just (illegally) bombed in July 2002; one of Khadr’s eyes was injured and an initial photo showed his eyes covered with debris from the bombing. A US soldier was shot and killed when subsequently entering the building. The US took Omar into custody, making the incredible claim that he had committed a « war crime » by killing the soldier.
Later investigations indicated that 1) the US had hidden the initial report which noted that an Afghan soldier had also survived that bombing (who might have killed the solider before he was quickly murdered), and 2) a forensic test suggested that the US soldier could have been killed by friendly fire. Regardless of what happened, Khadr bore no responsibility for the soldier’s death.
Despite Omar’s injuries, he was sent to the torture center in Bagram, where « Monster » torturer, Damien Corsetti, was appalled at his youth, his condition and the way he was being treated. Despite Omar’s age, he was not only sent to Guantanamo, but placed in the worst part of the torture gulag.
Canadian agents assisted in Omar’s terrible treatment by working behind the scenes with his torturers. Omar’s father had been head of a charity with connections — like the Bush family — to Osama bin Laden, which interrogators used as the excuse for Omar’s torture.
In 2010, the US tried Khadr for the alleged killing of the US soldier — in a military court that was widely censured for not meeting standards of fairness. According to a 2010 op-ed by lawyer Audrey Maclin, one interrogator, who was later court martialed for his abuse of prisoners, began interrogating Khadr less than 12 hours after his discharge from a hospital when Khadr was still sedated and on a stretcher.
[The interrogator « 1 »] did remember that he and other interrogators had threatened Khadr by telling him a story about the rape and murder of a fictitious young Afghan by “four big black guys” in a U.S. prison.
But Interrogator 1 couldn’t recall if he had ever shone a bright light into Khadr’s eyes. He couldn’t remember forcing Khadr upright on his stretcher in order to cause him excruciating pain. He couldn’t recall setting barking dogs on Khadr while the teenager was hooded. He didn’t recall making Khadr stand for hours to inflict both physical pain and sleep deprivation, though he did acknowledge that sleep deprivation was a technique used at Bagram, and he had said under oath at his court martial that it was “the practice” to do it to new detainees.
Interrogator 1 didn’t deny using these or many other “non-traditional interrogation techniques” (the prosecution’s euphemism for torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment), he just couldn’t recall one way or the other. …. It may well have been difficult for Interrogator 1 to recall specific details of what he did in the course of his “six-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week” interrogations of Khadr.
The abuse of Omar Khadr was so apparent that at one point, every former Minister of Foreign Affairs signed a letter to Harper asking him to repatriate Omar Khadr. The government’s continued abuse of Khadr’s rights– until it was forced by the courts to respect them– will stand as one of the most shameful chapters in our government’s history.