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National Post View: Give Omar Khadr his chance

National Post

One way or another, Omar Khadr will soon be a free man. On Friday, moments after judge J.M. Ross of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta granted the 28-year-old Toronto native bail from an Edmonton-area jail pending appeal of his war crimes conviction in the United States, the government announced — as predictably as day follows night — that it would appeal.

[np_storybar title=”Omar Khadr granted bail pending appeal, judge rules” link=”http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/omar-khadr-granted-bail-pending-appeal-judge-rules”]An Alberta judge granted bail to former Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr on Friday, saying keeping him behind bars while he appeals his American war crimes convictions would not be in the public interest.

In her ruling, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice June Ross said terms of his release will be determined by May 5.

“This is a circumstance where balancing a strong appeal and the public confidence in the administration of justice favour the same result,” Ross said in…

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FREE OMAR KHADR NOW Statement on Judge Ross’ Decision to Grant Bail to Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr age 15 22 28 (1)

 

Today the Free Omar Khadr Now Campaign, which advocates for the legal and human rights of Omar Khadr, welcomes the decision by Judge Ross to grant Omar bail. After thirteen years in prison, Omar has hope of freedom, so long overdue. 

Omar is excited to begin a normal life, continue with his studies, explore his new home town of Edmonton and spend time with friends. Those who have come to know him personally recognize his intelligence, kindness and optimism for the future.

Judge Ross, in her decision, affirmed Omar Khadr’s right to bail while he waits for an appeal in the U.S. before the Court of Military Commission Review. She noted that unchallenged expert advice indicated his appeal has a “strong probability of success.”

The Judge Ross decision is another victory in a long process of legal challenges for Omar. The Canadian courts have consistently ruled in his favour, affirming his rights and condemning the denial of fundamental freedoms and protections suffered throughout a thirteen-year ordeal. Referring to the sham process of the Military Commissions, Nate Whitling, Omar’s lawyer, has said that “Omar is fortunate to be back in Canada where we have real courts and real laws.” 

Although Omar’s bail application was successful, the government has announced it will appeal the decision, as it has all other court rulings in Omar’s favour. These appeals, which have been consistently unsuccessful, have resulted in a further delay of justice and huge costs for the Canadian taxpayer. 

Our group continues to hear from people across Canada and internationally who send messages of support for Omar and donations to help with his lawyers’ legal expenses. https://freeomar.ca/donate/

We celebrate that Omar is at long last receiving the standard of justice and human rights that are enshrined in Canadian law. 

For those who wish to learn more about Omar Khadr and his long journey to freedom, please visit us at  http://www.freeomar.ca

Contact us at : freeomar.ca@gmail.com

 

Some cases enshrine the defining moments of their time. Omar Khadr’s is one. Future generations will rightly judge our shocking dereliction of responsibility in this matter [and] our collective Canadian failure to extend justice and humanity.” – Constance Backhouse, Distinguished University Professor of Law, University of Ottawa. 

 

Omar Khadr is Granted Bail Today!

Dear supporters for Omar’s freedom and the Rule of Law in general: Omar is granted bail today!

Memorandum of Decision of the Honourable Madam Justice J.M. Ross:

http://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/2015/2015abqb261/2015abqb261.html

The conditions of his release will be determined on May the 5th.
And sadly – as always with every court decision in Omar’s favour – the Canadian government appeals; wasting more and more Canadian tax dollars.


Omar Khadr age 15 22 28 (1)

What has happened to Canada?: Speaking with Omar Khadr in prison


Originally published in Rabble.ca: http://rabble.ca/news/2015/04/what-has-happened-to-canada-speaking-omar-khadr-prison

By Aaf Post, rabble.ca | April 20, 2015


In May 2013, my son Kiran and I boarded a plane from Amsterdam to Toronto with a dual purpose. First, after months of exchanging letters with Omar Khadr, we were going to visit him in Millhaven Institution, where he was incarcerated following 11 years of mistreatment in Guantanamo Bay. Secondly we wanted to understand why Canadian citizens allowed this ongoing atrocity.

What had happened to this country with once high standards on human rights?

I learned about Omar when I saw the documentary ‘Four Days in Guantanamo’ on Dutch television, shortly after he was ‘convicted’ in a sham military trial at Guantanamo. Omar, who shared the same dreams as my children, had received so little opportunity in life and my sons, so much. His plight touched me deeply and I began an advocacy campaign.

From the Netherlands we had made arrangements to visit Omar twice in Millhaven, near Toronto. Reports from Guantanamo had declared him a model prisoner and completely non-radicalized. Yet, the Canadian government had incarcerated him in a maximum-security prison under harsh conditions; solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

Upon arrival we learned that Omar had been transferred to Edmonton the same night we had traveled. This required a hasty switch of plans, allowing us to be the first visitors for Omar in Edmonton Institution. Prior to the visit we were x-rayed, sniffed by dogs and presented a video showing the violent power relations between prisoners when drugs were smuggled in. We were led to a closed room with a glass divider. I realized that we didn’t even know what Omar would look like. His last photos were, after all, taken five years earlier by the Red Cross in Guantanamo.

Suddenly Omar appeared; a tall, athletic, young man with an extraordinarily gentle appearance — someone who transcends the environment. Of course we recognized him!

Omar was all smiles. Arlette Zinck, English professor, who had also come to welcome Omar, opened the conversation, “Omar, I came all the way to meet you at Guantanamo, and now I am so happy to welcome you here in my hometown.”

She introduced us: Aaf Post with her son from the Netherlands. “Aaf Post!” Omar’s face brightened even more. It reminded me of his hopeful look in the documentary, when Canadian officials finally visited him in Guantanamo and 16-year-old Omar thought they had come to save him. Sadly, they just came to contribute to his torture. His look made our visit beautiful and sad at the same time. Beautiful because he is such an extremely kind man, so worthy of every second that we, Free Omar Khadr Now, advocate for his freedom, and sad because he is still mistreated and used as a political pawn by the Canadian government.

I was relieved he was so well-balanced and optimistic. He had survived! We had hours of amazing in-depth conversations. Omar enjoyed and absorbed every moment and didn’t allow a moment of silence. He had hardly spoken English in the long months of solitary confinement.

Omar has a highly developed empathy and spoke differently with Arlette, me and Kiran. Arlette and I were treated with the greatest respect, while Kiran, five years younger, was seen as a friend. This was his first ‘regular guys encounter’ in 11 years! They talked about movies, books, cars, schools … young man stuff. They talked incessantly. And every conversation with Arlette or me invariably ended with: “Can I speak with Kiran again?” … eyes twinkling back and forth. Kiran said later: “Speaking with Omar is like talking to your best friend.”

Omar told us his faith had become his anchor to guide him through the tough years; it structured his day and grounded him. It prevented him from judging others and helped him in forgiving his oppressors. Although he had been denied all that a youngster needs to develop properly, he had raised himself more than well.

In the years that he was deprived of schooling, he had seized every opportunity to gain knowledge. I could easily talk at an academic level with Omar. It was evident that he has a high potential in social and technical skills. When I told him my other son has aspirations to become a doctor, he said, “That makes two of us.”

Omar was deeply moved by our visits. He said, “Even though my ordeal has been difficult there is a positive side, it has blessed me with people like you in my life. Prison is not an easy place, people who care about me are the light in the darkness.”

An announcement sounded: our time with Omar was almost over. This was our last visit. When I asked him what he would like people to write about in their letters to him, Omar replied he would be most happy with details about people’s every day lives. After spending so much time in prison, he was totally unaware about ordinary life. Time was over; by way of farewell, we pressed our hands against the glass. Bye Omar, see you soon — in freedom!

Leaving him behind felt so wrong. How much pain should someone bear for the dirty political games of governments? We could only guess why this country, part of the Western ‘civilized’ world, was acting so unlawfully against this innocent young man — who had admirably found a way to hold his head high and maintain his dignity.


Aaf Post is a Dutch urban planner. In 2011, she was co-founder of the Free Omar Khadr Now campaign when she became aware of Omar Khadr’s plight. By now the campaign has developed into a vibrant, Canadian-oriented team with many active members. Its core activities are:

  • Maintaining the well-sourced Free Omar Khadr Now website with current and background information on all aspects of the case;
  • Monitoring the media to encourage accurate and objective coverage of the Omar Khadr case;
  • Providing community reach out to schools, universities, faith based groups to educate the public on facts of the case;
  • Fundraising for Omar’s pro bono lawyer to help with ongoing legal costs.

Pending the Bail Decision: Canada shouts for Justice for Omar Khadr


NEWSLETTER Free Omar Khadr Now  –  BAIL OMAR KHADR  –  MARCH 2015



Why Omar Khadr Deserves Bail – Editorial Globe and Mail 

| March 25, 2015

…. Mr. Khadr was not tried in anything resembling a normal, First World legal process. He pleaded guilty under duress: He faced indefinite incarceration without trial unless he pled guilty. The crimes themselves were invented retroactively. The court did not follow normal American domestic or military law, and it denied standard legal protections to the accused, who was a child when he was captured.

Bail Omar - G&M

Continue reading  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/editorials/why-omar-khadr-deserves-bail/article23620688/


Time to Set Omar Khadr Free – Editorial Toronto Star

| March 26, 2015

“But one thing is clear: Khadr has done more than enough time. He presents no credible threat to Canadian society and should be set free to take up an offer to live with the family of his longtime Edmonton lawyer, attend a Christian university there and rebuild his life”

Bail Omar - Editorial Toronto Star

Continue reading  http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2015/03/26/time-to-set-omar-khadr-free-editorial.html?referrer=http%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FkxmweDFTZx


“Hypocritical blather on Khadr” – Letters to the Editor, Toronto Star 

By Chris McNaught, Ottawa lawyer | March 27, 2015

What hypocritical blather from two federal puppets. First, from federal lawyer Bruce Hughson in opposing Omar Khadr’s bail application: “It’s critically important that Canada meet its international obligations” — you mean, by recognizing Khadr’s clear status as a “child soldier” under the UN protocol originally championed by Canada? Or, by formally condemning — it never has — the perversion of international law through torture, abuse and other crimes at Guantanamo, in whose tenure, by way specifically of our off-loading of Khadr, Canada is complicit? Second, from Jeremy Laurin (Minister Steven Blaney’s press conduit): “Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to heinous crimes . . .” — any criminal lawyer with a pulse understands the plea was made to avoid Khadr spending his entire life in either Guantanamo or a U.S. prison. No allegations were ever proven by trial and tested evidence, and there is no legitimate international law providing a charge of “murder” against a soldier in any armed conflict defending himself against an enemy assault.

Bail Omar - Letter Toronto Star

Continue reading http://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2015/03/27/hypocritical-blather-on-khadr.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed


Misleading headlines – Letters to the Editor, Edmonton Journal

By Helen Sadowski, Edmonton

All stories on the Edmonton Journal’s website that carried news about Omar Khadr’s bail hearing included in the headline “convicted terrorist.” That phrase, so emotionally charged and misleading, should have had a huge asterisk beside it. Omar Khadr was put before a military tribunal that was outside the American legal system and Geneva Conventions. The main evidence against him was a confession obtained through torture and illegal interrogation methods.

Bail Omar Edmonton Journal

It’s time to use another headline.

Continue reading http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Friday+letters+create+true+justice/10923656/story.html


In room 317, with Omar Khadr’s Edmonton ‘family’ – Metro News 

By Omar Mouallem | March 30, 2015

… Khadr, in blue jeans and a white polo, sat in a box off to the side. He could spot the orange ribbons and friendly faces in the courtroom, thanks to corrective eye surgery last month, repairing his right eye from the shrapnel that blinded his other eye. So when they smiled and waved, he was able to smile and wave back.

Continue reading → http://metronews.ca/voices/footnotes/1326440/in-room-317-with-omar-khadrs-edmonton-family/



OMAR KHADR’S LONG MARCH TOWARDS JUSTICE | VANCOUVER EVENT


SORRY, TICKETS NO LONGER AVAILABLE – SOLD OUT.


Attention Free Omar supporters in B.C.’s lower mainland: An opportunity to meet Dennis Edney, lawyer for Omar Khadr, share a meal and help cover Omar’s upcoming legal costs.

Wednesday April 8th 6:30 p.m. Tamam Restaurant 2616 E Hastings St. Vancouver, B.C.

$45 (pay at the door) Limited seating so be sure to contact freeomar.ca@gmail.com for reservations.