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Omar Khadr | This week’s Events – London Ontario, Vernon B.C. and Edmonton Alberta

Vernon B.C.: TUESDAY January 28 at 6.30 p.m. | In the upstairs lounge at the Bean Scene

Event by Amnesty Vernon to discuss Omar Khadr.

Local performer Christine Pilgrim had recently attended an moving talk by Omar Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney. She will talk about the human rights violations endured by Omar and invite those who also believe in the power of the pen to address letters on his behalf.

“Dennis Edney ended his moving talk about Omar Khadr’s situation by saying, ‘The only crime worse than willful inhumanity is the crime of indifference, of silence, of forgetting.’”

Admission to the event is free and open to everyone, from youth to senior. For more information, e-mail info@amnestyvernon.ca or call 250-542 4152.

London, Ontario EventLondon, Ontario: WEDNESDAY January 29, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. | In the UCC Room 67

Screening of the documentary “You Don’t Like the Truth: Four Days Inside Guantanamo” followed by human rights discussion with Law Professor Michael Lynk. Come out and discuss the truth about Omar Khadr.

Event is sponsored by MSA and Amnesty International at Western. For more information contact Homaira at HSIDDIQ5@gmail.com

Edmonton, Alberta: FRIDAY January 31, 5 p.m. – 6.20 p.m. | UTC-07 Telus Centre 150 University of Alberta

Amnesty International – U of A Chapter organizes “The Friend I’ve Never Met” as a part of University of Alberta’s International Week.

Human rights advocacy work has an emotional impact, both on those who benefit from advocacy and on those who perform it. We will explore the connection between social justice work, solidarity and mental health with panelists such as Dennis Edney, defence lawyer for Omar Khadr, and Dr. Arlette Zinck, educator and advocate for Omar Khadr. Each panelist will share their experience and how their life and sense of community waschanged. A question and answer period will follow.

Amnesty The Friend I've Never MetFEATURING:
Dennis Edney, QC; Dr. Arlette Zinck, King’s University College; and other panelists

Sponsored by Amnesty International.

Please bring your friends, come listen to some new perspectives and join in on the conversation! Following the event, there will be a reception featuring student groups tabling about their advocacy work and refreshments!!!

Tory MP shares government’s prejudices about Omar Khadr

Free Omar Khadr Now committee member, Helen Sadowski, contacted Tory MP, Laurie Hawn, in November 2013, informing him about the facts of Omar’s case and asking when will his government stop using Omar Khadr as a political scapegoat to win votes. She invited him to hear Omar’s U.S. Dept. of Defense lawyer, Sam Morison, speak about the appeal to overturn all of Khadr’s convictions at Kings College University in Edmonton.

The following is MP Hawn’s response:

In our view, Omar Khadr was convicted of a crime by a legitimate judicial process. When he has finished serving his sentence, he will be released and treated like anyone else. There is a bit of a contradiction in your request. At the time, some people were saying that Khadr couldn’t possibly be a soldier, because he was only 15 when he murdered Sgt Speer. A great many Canadians understandably put the Canadian context onto a place like Afghanistan. I have followed that conflict very closely and have been there several times. A 15-year-old in that environment is not like a 15-year-old in Canada. He is effectively an adult and there are many, many Omar Khadrs in Afghanistan and other primitive societies the likes of radical Islamism. I can have sympathy for Khadr growing up in a freely-admitted terrorist family, who took disgraceful advantage of their Canadian connection. But, I don’t agree that he should not pay for what he did, and there are more sides to the story than the one you’ll hear from his lawyers. I also appreciate your concerns on press releases regarding Omar Khadr. I don’t necessarily agree with everything that we do in this regard either. Thank you once again for writing. If there is any other way that my office can be of assistance to you in the future please do not hesitate to contact us.
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Sincerely,
Laurie Hawn

Our response to Laurie Hawn’s email:

Dear Laurie
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Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comments. I’m not sure how open you are to debating these issues, but I would like to share the following with you in regards to your comments:
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1. You say: “Omar Khadr was convicted of a crime by a legitimate judicial process”.   
The crimes that Omar Khadr was convicted of were “invented” in 2006 by the US government and these crimes are not recognized by Canada nor other international jurisdictions. In addition, these newly defined laws were then applied retroactively to actions of 2002.  The US Federal Court has already ruled  in another case of a Guantanamo detainee that retroactive convictions are illegal. The judicial process was a military process and therefore an inferior legal process. US citizens are prohibited by law from being tried by a military tribunal as it would be a violation of their rights as it is of course for Canadian citizens.
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Omar Khadr’s legal rights were violated and this was well expressed by Romeo Dallaire, retired LGeneral: “During the 10 years that this nightmare has gone on, we have realized that the most serious violations of Khadr’s rights have been covered up: violations of the right to due process, the right to protection from torture, the right to protection from arbitrary imprisonment, the right to protection from retroactive prosecution, the right to a fair trial, the right to confidential legal representation at the appropriate time and place, the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal, the right to habeas corpus, the right to equality before the law and the rights stemming from the Convention on the Rights of the Child”.
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If the above violation of legal rights was the case, how is it possible to determine guilt or innocence?  Both national and international law associations as well as academics have spoken on the “legal blackhole” that is Guantanamo. While your government has shown a disdain for academic elites and scientists in the past, there is no doubt that a democracy relies on its citizens and representatives to have respect for the law, otherwise we are bordering on fascism.
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2. You say: “When he murdered Sergeant Speer“.
The laws of war don’t recognize this as murder, but it is rather a combat fatality.  Paul Koring recently wrote in the Globe and Mail: “Sergeant Christopher Speer, helmetless and wearing Afghan garb, was killed by a grenade blast. Sgt. Speer, a qualified medic, was part of assault team when he suffered fatal head wounds”.  Being a military man yourself, you might also wonder why Speer was dressed in Afghan garb when he undertook the assault and if he was in fact an unlawful combatant himself.
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It  is highly improbable that Khadr who was unconscious, blinded in one eye and covered in rubble could have thrown a grenade 80 ft. backwards over a high fence. There were no eyewitnesses to the actual throwing of the grenade and later evidence shows that it was an American grenade that killed Speer. Omar Khadr while in a prone position and defenceless was shot twice in the back by a US soldier. Omar Khadr was himself a victim of a war crime, that is internationally recognized. The Pentagon lawyer Sam Morison who is launching an appeal to overturn all the convictions  has evidence of this breech in the laws of war.
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3. You say: “A 15-year-old in that environment is not like a 15-year-old in Canada. He is effectively an adult and there are many, many Omar Khadrs in Afghanistan and other primitive societies the likes of radical Islamism”. 
That comment and especially “primitive societies” made me feel sick to my stomach. I worked in the Federal government for 30 years and was for a period of time head of the Citizenship Court. For me it is deeply insulting to categorize other countries in such ways.  Again, respect for the law is fundamental to a democracy.  While you may not agree with the definition of a minor, you are not in a position to just make up some other laws that suit you better. Canada recognizes child soldiers in Africa and gives them refuge in our own country. Can you explain the difference as to the treatment of Omar Khadr? Does someone’s ethnic, religious or racial background disqualify them from the rights and protections normally guaranteed by citizenship and our laws?
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4. You say: “I can have sympathy for Khadr growing up in a freely-admitted terrorist family who took disgraceful advantage of their Canadian connection“.
You have no facts to prove that  the family of 7 children and 2 parents was a terrorist family. Comments made by the mother and daughter while dressed in a hijab were not terrorist actions, even if you didn’t agree with them. One son was an informant for the US government. Family members, including Omar cannot be held responsible for the alleged actions of the father. At this point in time, Khadr has been denied his legitimate rights as a Canadian citizen and that has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada and will be part of an upcoming civil suit against the government. Most likely the mistakes of this government and its decision to ignore the rule of law will cost taxpayers upward of $20M.
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5. You say: “Press releases regarding Omar Khadr”.
Vic Toews, while the Minister of Public Safety oversaw the return of Omar Khadr to Canada. Toews used a publicly discredited analysis by a forensic psychiatrist and prosecution witness to condemn Khadr as a jihadist and threat to Canadian society.
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The psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Welner spent less than 15 hours with Khadr while another military psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen Xenakis, also a retired Brigadier General spent more than 100 hours with Khadr.  Toews would not accept the expert findings of Xenakis as they contradicted Welner’s findings. In addition Dr. Marc Sageman, recognized expert in terrorism,  wrote a lengthy critical analysis of Welner’s findings. In his piece https://freeomarakhadr.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/dr-sageman-letter.pdf  he states “However, Dr. Welner is not known to have any knowledge of terrorism, Islamic extremism or deradicalization. In his c.v. he has not contributed to the literature on terrorism, al Qaeda or deradicalization. He is not known as an expert in these fields. Furthermore as an internationally recognized expert in terrorism and counter terrorism, I know of no published study that addresses the issue of dangerousness in terrorists.
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 The similarities of the Omar Khadr case to the French Dreyfus affair, the Jewish military man charged with spying, are truly haunting … interference at the highest political levels, miscarriage of justice, racism and the dissemination of misinformation and emotionally charged material.
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I share the above as a concerned citizen who believes that our country’s democracy depends on the equal treatment of citizens,  a respect for the rule of law and an informed and educated population.
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I hope elected representatives will start a debate about the treatment of Omar Khadr and seek to consider all available information. In that respect, please share your sources with me on any of the above points that support your views.
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All the best
Helen Sadowski
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Call for Fair Reporting on Omar Khadr!

One of the main goals of the Free Omar Khadr Now-campaign is to hold the media accountable for proper coverage of all aspects of Omar’s case. While there has been significant improvement in the way the mainstream media covers the story, misinformation, inaccuracies and lies continue to be printed!

Below the usual falsehoods that Canadian media imposes on us and our call for factual, fair reporting, voiced by Gail Davidson of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada:
Juridical Facts in Omar Khadr's case

Misinformation, inaccuracies and lies continue to be printed by the mainstram media in their covering of the Omar Khadr story. Their legally and factually wrong reporting is dangerously misleading.

Mr. Khadr cannot reasonably (or legally) be considered to have ‘admitted’ to the U.S. accusations against him. In October 2010 Mr. Khadr had been arbitrarily (i.e. without legal justification and without access to judicial oversight to determine the illegality of his detention or his treatment) for over 8 years.

Throughout that 8+ year period Mr. Khadr was subjected to a variety of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment and treatment, first at the notorious Bagram prison and then at the extra-legal Guantanamo Bay prisons. His treatment throughout is prohibited by U.S., Canadian and international law binding on the U.S. and Canada. In advance of his October 2010 scheduled appearance before the Guantanamo Bay tribunal, it was known by all that this process –the Gitmo tribunal– would not result in Mr. Khadr gaining his freedom. In August 2010, the White House had issued a public statement confirming the U.S. intention to continue to hold Guantanamo Bay prisoners indefinitely, irrespective of a finding of not guilty by the Guantanamo Bay tribunals. Mr. Khadr’s acceptance in October 2010 of the ‘get out of jail in eight years and go back to Canada in one year’ plea bargain offered by the U.S. would not be considered by any properly constituted court in Canada as an ‘admission’ that could be used or relied upon, to establish guilt.

Having been obtained by torture and other impermissible coercion, Mr. Khadr’s acceptance of the plea bargain is not and cannot be considered, an admission of guilt. This is a principle of law well understood by the public. The mainstream media’s insistence on referring to Omar Khadr as a convicted murderer invites listeners/readers to assume that the media knows of factors unknown to listeners/readers, that render the wholly illegal capture, detention, treatment and extraction of statements through the use of torture, the charging and ‘conviction’ of Omar Khadr, as somehow (exceptionally) legal and justified.

For several years, Canadian mainstream media has persisted in parroting the erroneous pronouncements of the very governments implicated in the horrific and illegal maltreatment of Omar Khadr.

Gail Davidson
Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada – LRWC
3220 West 13th Avenue
Vancouver, BC CANADA, V6K 2V5
Tel: +1-604 736-1175
Fax: +1-604 736-1170
Skype: gail.davidson.lrwc
Email: lrwc@portal.ca
Website: http://www.lrwc.org


Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally by protecting advocacy rights. LRWC campaigns for advocates in danger because of their human rights advocacy, engages in research and education and works in cooperation with other human rights organizations. LRWC has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.


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