The night before his 29th birthday Omar can finally say farewell to persistent reminders that he is not a free man.
Justice June Ross of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruled on Friday September 18 that Omar can remove the electronic bracelet he has been wearing since his release from prison on May 7 this year, and that he is allowed to visit his family in Toronto.
She said that the conditions imposed on Omar were “unusually restrictive.”
The judge told Omar that when he will visit his grandparents in Toronto this fall, he must be joined by his lawyer and he has to meet with the authorities there.
Last week, Ross had already lifted Omar’s strict curfew conditions to make it possible for him to attend evening classes to become an emergency medical technician.
Before lifting many of the restrictions, the judge consulted with Omar’s bail supervisor who reported that Omar had met all his bail conditions up to now.
This was the deciding factor in the judge’s positive ruling on September 18.
To help Dennis Edney, Omar’s pro bono lawyer, in the ongoing legal battles please go to Free Omar Fund.
Omar was finally granted bail on May 7, 2015 and tasted freedom for the first time in almost 13 years. In an affidavit, Omar says that re-entry has been “going great” and, “I have been embraced by many members of the community and made many new friends.” However, the ankle bracelet – a perpetual reminder that he is not a free man – which is part of his bail condition has caused him embarrassment (naturally) in public when it went off by itself.
After 13 years of wrongful imprisonment, Omar also wants to visit his family in Toronto, particularly his grandmother to whom he is very close to, and who is ill. Therefore Omar asks a Canadian court to ease his bail conditions so he can at least visit his family in Toronto; a natural desire to proceed towards a normal life.
Omar Khadr is finally free, though on strict bail conditions while an appeal of his US military commission conviction is underway. He has been behind bars for the last 13 years, without any evidence of guilt. Many human rights issues in the case remain unresolved.
a short history
Omar (now 28) was born in Toronto.
In his youth, the family moved back and forth between Canada and Afghanistan, where his father worked as an aid worker,
On July 27, 2002, the house where his father had left Omar as a translator, was heavily bombed by U.S. forces. When found, barely alive under rubble, Omar was shot in the back and captured.
Months of brutal interrogations and torture followed during his captivity in Bagram. Fifteen-year-old Omar was falsely accused and forced to confess to the killing of a U.S. soldier who fell during the battle.
October 2002, just 16, he was sent to Guantanamo, where he spent the next decade – often in solitary confinement.
On October 30, 2010, he was forced to plead guilty before a U.S. military commission in Guantanamo. He knew his only chance of getting out of there was to ‘confess’. The Guantanamo paradox: you had to lose to win. Those lucky enough to get charged and convicted got out.
The “crimes” he had to plead guilty to did not exist under Canadian, U.S. or international law. The Guantanamo court is not a real court as it is not internationally recognized.
As a result, Omar is the only child ever convicted of a war crime and the only person convicted for any of the 7,000+ American casualties in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On September 26, 2012, he was repatriated to Canada and placed in a maximum security prison.
On May 7, 2015, after almost 13 years of wrongful imprisonment, he was finally released on bail, pending the appeal of his Guantanamo ‘conviction’.
Excerpt from Omar Khadr: Out of the Shadows – the 40 min. version of the documentary.
In helping edit this article, a personal note of deep gratitude to Marlene Cuthbert, who was passionate and completely devoted to seeing justice brought to her friend, Omar, until her last days. Marlene passed away on March 25, 2015.
I was twenty-five years old when I first saw Omar Khadr’s young face, staring back at me through my laptop screen. The innocence in his big brown eyes combined with the sombre expression drew me in; the straight-backed posture which is typically alien on a teenager confirmed he was staring into the lens of a camera for a passport photo, perhaps being told by the cameraman to remain expressionless, yet the photograph still captured his cheerful disposition. There was a trace of a faint moustache on his baby face, with a hint of a smile in his eyes and mouth. This was a photograph of a young boy, who was barely fourteen years old.
I was completing my final year of Bachelors in English from a Canadian university and had decided to take a course, “Introduction to Law and Justice”, out of curiosity. One of the assignments I was asked to write about was on Omar Khadr’s case, and that is how I came to know about the young man who was to become an integral part of my life eventually. When I scanned the details of his case online, I was overwhelmed by the amount of heavy information revolving around this child. The words Guantanamo Bay, torture, war on terror, indefinite detention combined with the images of hooded men in orange jumpsuits, chained like animals and caged under the blazing sun in Cuba, where the prison is based, confounded me. I knew it was wrong – who wouldn’t be horrified by this abnormal treatment of human beings? – but I couldn’t fully appreciate the gravity of the situation. Even though I was aware of how Muslims had suddenly become targets of racism since 9/11, and Continue reading →
On the morning of Tuesday, March 24, Omar will be back in court at the Court of Queen’s Bench Alberta. His lawyers will present arguments that, if successful, will lead to his release on bail pending the result of the appeal in the United States of his Guantanamo Military Commission conviction. Public and media interest will be very high and we hope to clearly communicate to Canadians that Omar has strong support within the community from a diverse group of Edmontonians. Please join us at the courthouse on Tuesday morning to get that message across!
08:30 – Assemble at the Three Bananas Café on Churchill Square. We will have Orange Ribbons available for all to show solidarity. 08:55 – Process as a group to the Court of Queen’s Bench. 09:00 – Brief assembly in front of the Court. This is the key media moment. 10:00 – Expected time for the bail hearing to begin. Courtroom # to be determined.
Our key focus is to get the largest possible group out for the Tuesday morning procession and assembly. If we can amass a large number of supporters to fill the courtyard out front, it sends a strong positive message to Canadians who will watch this on the evening news. For those with interest and time, the hearings will probably run all day Tuesday and again on Wednesday. If you are approached by media at this event, there are two key messages we would like to communicate to Canadians:
Omar deserves true justice. None of us would be content to have our family members subjected to the injustices that are inherent in the Guantanamo Military Commissions that ‘convicted’ Omar.
Omar is welcome here. We are here to let Edmontonians know that there are many reasonable, intelligent people here today who know Omar personally; all are convinced that he will make a very valuable contribution to our community.
Please confirm your attendance [via this link] so we can plan to have enough Orange Ribbons ready AND so we can advise the court if an overflow crowd is expected.
For more insight into Omar’s legal odyssey, his journey of life and his personal character see: [Fact Sheet Omar Khadr]
In the November issue of Walrus magazine, readers can learn more about the personal life of Omar Khadr through the eyes of his volunteer teachers, in particular Arlette Zinck, Professor of English from Kings College University Edmonton. Up to now, Canadians have never hear Khadr tell his own story as the Canadian government has refused all requests from the media to interview him.
Here are a few excerpts from that article:
“Also out of the ordinary that day: the teacher-student roles had been reversed, and Khadr was instructing Zinck. The prisoner had a math final coming up, one of three remaining grade eleven courses, and he needed practice. “He’s a natural science guy,” she explained a few weeks later, when I met her at her house. Math energizes him; it is a more purposeful and logical discipline than literature, sociology, or law. Zinck, on the other hand, is more comfortable discussing John Bunyan and William Shakespeare—“How absolute the knave is!”—rather than absolute numbers”
“She soaked the lessons in CanLit classics, representing every province and territory—from BC’s Obasan, Joy Kogawa’s story of Japanese internment camp survivors, to PEI’s Anne of Green Gables . “If you’re dreaming of home,” she said, “we’ll structure it around a collection of novels about home.”.
“If he were a university student of mine, he would be in the top 5 percent,” said David Goa, director of the University of Alberta’s Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life. Zinck asked Goa to teach the prisoner-student about the intersections of faith and science. “I left thinking that this young man, somehow, by the grace of God, has turned prison into a monastery,” Goa recalled.
Omar Khadr Welcome Here: A compilation of the numerous photos we received from Canadians who welcome Omar in their community. Like to add your picture? Go to [+] Free Omar Khadr Now on Facebook This video is made for Omar’s 26th birthday, September the 19th … Continue reading →
12 – 20 March 2014 – Omar Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney QC speaking tour hosted by the London Guantanamo Campaign.
Talks and events
Wednesday 12 March – Omar Khadr and the Betrayal of International Law: a public meeting with Dennis Edney, chaired by Professor Bill Bowring at Garden Court Chambers, London. Organised by CAMPACC, the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and the London Guantánamo Campaign.
time: 6.30 -8.30 pm
place: Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A
Thursday 13 March
– Defending Guantánamo’s youngest prisoner: The struggle to free Omar Khadr. Lecture with Dennis Edney at York University Centre for Applied Human Rights.
time: 4.00 – 5.30 pm
place: Bowland Auditorium (BS/005), Berrick Saul building, University of York, Heslington, York