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Ten years ago during the invasion of Afghanistan by US forces, a child soldier was apprehended. He was the only survivor of Afghani fighters . An American medic was killed in the firefight. That child soldier was Omar Khadr. He was 15 at the time. Those facts it seems that all can agree on.
What we can’t seem to agree on is whether Khadr threw the grenade that killed the American. The evidence that an adult who subsequently was killed was first blamed for the death. More than a year later the evidence changed and Khadr was blamed. After nine years in a “black prison” Khadr confessed in a military trial to all charges against him. He was promised one more year at the offshore prison of Guantanamo Bay and then he could be repatriated to Canada.
That year passed last November and he still is in Gitmo prison. Now the federal government seems to be using all its available tactics to stall his repatriation. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has asked for a psychiatrist report compiled two years ago. Others in the federal government are making noises that they were duped into agreeing to take Khadr back. He is a Canadian citizen and the last remaining detainee from the western world to be incarcerated in the US prison in Cuba.
While many have worked over the years to see justice done in the former child soldier’s case, he remains behind bars. Now Canadian senator Romeo Dallaire has taken action to spur his return to Canada. Dallaire is a retired brigadier-general who has taken up the cause of child soldiers and is circulating an on-line petition to prompt the Canadian government to fulfill their part of the deal which saw Khadr “confess” to all charges with the understanding that he would be repatriated. After only a few days, over 28 000 people have signed urging the federal government to bring him home to Canada.
A child soldier is a person under the age of 18 as defined by the UN.
During the fight in the compound in Afghanistan, Khadr was shot in the back and lost sight in one eye. He alleges torture during his incarceration. He has grown up in a “black prison”. He could very well be angry and resentful of the country that failed to lift a finger to repatriate and rehabilitate him.
It makes me wonder about the real issue here. Is the federal government seeking to punish Khadr for the actions of his hostile and toxic family? His father was a close companion to Osama Bin Laden. His mother is an outspoken enemy of Canada, except when she is claiming the benefits of Canadian citizenship. The Khadrs are an unlovable group.
Is the issue about child soldiers? Share the petition on Facebook and ask your friends to sign
From Child Soldier Initiative:
"any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force in any capacity, including but not limited to cooks, porters, messengers, and those accompanying such groups, other than purely as family members. It includes girls recruited for sexual purposes and forced marriage. It does not, therefore, only refer to a child who is carrying or has carried arms."