Omar Khadr: Growing Up In Gitmo
Omar Khadr at age 14 (in 2000)
Omar Khadr (born 9/19/86) is a Canadian who has been imprisoned in Guantanamo in connection with the alleged killing of a US soldier during a battle in Afghanistan in 2002. At the time of his capture by US forces, Khadr had been shot three times and was near death. Khadr was 15 at the time, a child soldier. He will be 22 in September. He has been detained in Gitmo for more than 6 years in essentially solitary confinement. Today some video of his interrogation was released in Canada.
The video is here via BBC. It is not of good quality, but the audio works. It is revolting.
Please join me in Gitmo.
The NY Times reports:
Video recordings released Tuesday showing interrogations of the only Canadian held at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba provided an unprecedented glimpse inside the compound.
The mood of the detainee, Omar Khadr, just 16 years old at the time of the interrogations, in February 2003, swings between calm and indifference to rage and grief in the recordings, which were released by his lawyers.
The video footage,... snip... shows Mr. Khadr pleading with a Canadian intelligence agent for help and, at one point, shows him displaying chest and back wounds that had still not healed months after his capture in Afghanistan. ...snip...
They show Mr. Khadr, who is accused of killing a United States soldier in Afghanistan during a battle in July 2002, being questioned by an unidentified member of the Canadian intelligence agency.
In all, about seven hours of recordings were given to Mr. Khadr’s lawyers, but the lawyers released a selection of only about 10 minutes of video recording on Tuesday.
Khadr has said he was abused by American interrogators both at Guantánamo Bay and in Afghanistan. With regard to the videos released today, Khadr apparently thought that the Canadian agent had come to help him. Later, he realized that the agent was only there to extract information from him:
Much of the material released shows Mr. Khadr — who is wearing an orange uniform — sobbing and repeatedly saying, in a moan, “Help me, help me.”
In the interrogation, Mr. Khadr says he wants to return to Canada, but the agent suggests that the situation is so good in Cuba he might want to stay there himself.
“The weather’s nice,” the interrogator, whose face was electronically obscured, said. “No snow.” ...snip...
At one point, [Khadr] lifts his shirt to show the agent the wounds on his back and stomach that were still not healed.
The agent, however, is unmoved. “I’m not a doctor, but I think you’re getting good medical care,” he responded.
Later, a sobbing Mr. Khadr said: “You don’t care about me.”
That's quite an understatement.
Many details sure to provoke outrage and shock about what has happened to Khadr are here in a Wiki, which notes his factual innocence of the killing, a Rolling Stone feature story, and Lisa Lockwood's excellent essay yesterday.
The capture, detention, yes, torture, and long term, solitary confinement of a child soldier, Omar Khadr, is the face the United States has put on display for all the world to see. This is the face of the Global War On Terror. This was an utterly mortifying display of barbarism before the video was released. And now, a small part of a very long detention can be viewed across the world in all of its inhumanity and obvious brutality. If there were any justice at all, Omar Khadr would be released.
According to the Times:
Amnesty International and several Canadian groups have been pressuring the Canadian government to ask the United States to return Mr. Khadr to Canada from Guantánamo Bay. Last week, however, Prime Minister Stephen Harper again rejected those calls.I'm disgusted by Khadr's further confinement at Gitmo and want it to be viewed and weighed across the world in the court of public opinion.
Nathan Whitling, one of Mr. Khadr’s Canadian lawyers, said that he hoped the airing of the videos, which were prominently featured on the morning new programs of Canadian television networks, would change the government’s mind.
“The only way to get him released is through a political process,” Mr. Whitling said from his office in Edmonton, Alberta. “So we are pleading in the court of public opinion.”
Maybe that's where we can be of help to Omar Khadr. Maybe by spreading the word and writing and sending emails we can do something to galvanize public opinion about this case and ultimately free Omar Khadr.