By Sara Naqwi | May 20, 2013
On the weekend of May 17th-19th, a global Twitter storm took place that rocked the cyber world to attention. Due to Omar Khadr’s ongoing illegal detention, from the tender age of 15, and the 100th day of the life-threatening hunger strike by the innocent prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, urgency is required to put further pressure on the Harper and Obama governments to release the extrajudicial detained men. All three days the hashtag #Khadr gained massive attention while fueled online with #GTMO17, #GTMO18, GTMO19.
Hundreds of people joined the Twitter storm to remember, learn about, and share the story of Omar Khadr who is currently detained in Millhaven Institution, Canada, which is otherwise known notoriously as “Gitmo North”.
Journalists, lawyers, students, activists, NGOs, and people from all walks of life “tweeted” about Omar’s haunting and illegal plight, wrongful capture and detention as a mere 15 year old. Those unaware of his plight before were shocked to learn that young Omar is now 26 years old, and still in a maximum security prison, but in a country which is his home. Canadians shared a public outcry regarding their government’s role in a 15 year old’s torture, and ongoing public and private persecution. Omar is falsely accused of crimes that are not recognized by Canadian law; hence his detainment is completely senseless, and mutual consternation was loudly felt.
Tweets that gained an increasing amount of attention were about Omar’s gentle character, soft speech and positive outlook on life despite his harrowing ordeal that continues to date. Omar’s ambition to become a doctor to cure the ill, despite nursing battle and torture wounds in solitary confinement with no proper medical care for the past 11 years, affected an increasing amount of people, Canadians et al.
Moreover, as the hashtag GTMO17-19 focused on the victims’ critical state in Guantanamo Bay, Omar’s participation in a hunger strike during his detention in Guantanamo gained significant attention. The tweet “DID YOU KNOW Omar #Khadr suffered in Guantanamo so much he also took part in hunger strike? Imagine the agony that entails. #GTMO17” rapidly became viral.
video by Sara Naqwi
From among the tweets that gained instant popularity, here are some samples:
“Omar #Khadr: From the tender age of 15: 3949 DAYS STOLEN YOUTH, 3717 DAYS BAGRAM & GUANTANAMO, 232 DAYS GTMO NORTH IN CANADA”
“No more excuses Canada. Honor our Human Rights and FREE Omar #Khadr! http://t.co/UFxPoIP35X ”
“Omar #Khadr should NOT be in prison right now. He should be given Nobel Peace Prize for surviving Gitmo, forgiving oppressors.”
“When media/politicians in Canada ‘recognize’ war crimes that do not exist in this country,they undermine our system of law. #Khadr”
Sara Naqwi is a member of the Free Omar Khadr Now Committee.