17 September 2015

#47 Kids in Jail

Omar Khadr was 10 years old when his family moved to Afghanistan and still under 16 when US forces attacking a house in an Afghan village arrested the wounded youth and subsequently sent him to Guantanamo Bay. Canada refused to ask for his transfer to Canada until forced to do so by the courts, and steadfastly resisted any attempts to have his alleged crimes to be considered those of a child soldier or a young offender.

After enduring “enhanced interrogation techniques” (read: torture) and terrible treatment in detention, Khadr finally decided to plead guilty under a plea deal that would see him spend one further year in detention at Guantanamo before being transferred to Canadian custody, although ministers of the outgoing government denied that there were any guarantees that Canada would accept him.

The outgoing government has fought every step of the way, as Khadr was repatriated to Canada, eventually transferred from an adult maximum security facility to a medium security and then a minimum security facility, and eventually released on bail as he appeals the conviction by the US military tribunal.

On his release into the custody of one of his lawyers, Canadians were finally able to see a polite, mild-mannered young man, and not the vicious terrorist portrayed by every statement of the government. It is a wonder that a young man so terribly mistreated for almost half of his life did not emerge more bitter than he appears to be. A wonder as well that the Canadian courts can have found that he was tortured, his rights violated, and yet no one in power has paid for the Canadian complicity in all of that abuse.

Further reading here

We were complicit
in torturing a youth, then
fought his release. Shame!

No comments: