Close Guantánamo. No More Excuses. | May 23, Global Day of Action, Toronto

Omar Khadr, Guantanamo's Child - Still in a Canadian Prison.

Toronto Event: May 23, Dundas Square at noon


The Canadian Close Guantanamo event on Dundas Square will have a special focus on Canadian Omar Khadr, who – after 93 days Bagram and 3624 days Guantanamo – is now held in a Canadian jail for 601 days, based on an illegal Guantanamo conviction.

On Facebook: Close Guantánamo. No More Excuses. | May 23, Global Day of Action, Toronto.


The story of Guantánamo remains that of nearly 800 men and boys thrown into an island prison designed to exist beyond the rule of law. Most were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, refugees fleeing the chaos of war in Afghanistan. The U.S. military captured only one in twenty; many were sold for significant sums of money to the U.S. by local authorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of the 155 men who remain at Guantánamo as of January 2014, approximately half were cleared for release years ago. The vast majority will never be charged with any crime.

On his second day in office, President Obama pledged that he would close the prison within a year. He has reiterated his promise many times since then, and under current law, he has the power to make it a reality, But in 2014, Guantánamo is still inexcusably open and entering its thirteenth year. No more excuses. Guantánamo must be closed.

The men detained at Guantánamo brought the prison back into the consciousness of the world through their mass hunger-strike in 2013. They effectively helped pressure the Obama administration to begin releasing men, after nine months without a transfer. But today, the base is looking more and more like an internment camp for Yemen men. Yemenis now constitute more than half the population at Guantánamo, and most have long been cleared for release.

– Courtesy of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, New York, USA

The May 23rd Day of Action is being coordinated by Witness Against Torture in collaboration with the Free Omar Khadr Now Campaign and many others in 38 cities around the world.

Read more: May 23 2014 Global call to action to Close Guantanamo.


Omar Khadr, innocent and illegally detained for 4318 days, since the age of 15.


 

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After 12 years, finally some relief for war crimes committed against Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr, who was 15 at the time, was shot twice in the back by a US Special Forces soldier who found him unconscious and lying in rubble. It is only now, 12 years later, that Omar Khadr has begun to receive proper medical treatment for his damaged shoulder. Hopefully his surgery and rehabilitation will be successful and the chronic pain and infection over these past 12 years will be over. His deteriorating eyesight still demands urgent treatment.

The war crime committed by the US soldier when -after the battle-, he shot Omar Khadr at point blank range, twice in the back still goes unaddressed. Khadr’s Pentagon lawyer has spoken about this war crime in a lecture given in Edmonton. The video of that lecture is on our website: Omar Khadr Did Not Commit a War Crime

Omar Khadr found under the rubble and then shot in the back

Omar Khadr (front) found in the rubble and then shot in the back

Omar Khadr (15) was shot in the back twice after he was found as an unconscious and wounded

Omar Khadr, who was 15 at the time, was shot twice in the back by a US soldier who found him unconscious and wounded.

 

Read more about Omar’s shoulder surgery here: Colin Perkel in Globe and Mail Omar Khadr in Sask. prison hospital after surgery on damaged shoulder

 

Government Interference vs the Rule of Law | Omar Khadr

The unacceptable government interference in the case of Omar Khadr first came to surface in 2009 when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Canadian government was responsible for the violations of Omar Khadr’s rights under Article 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Many Canadians clearly understand that Omar Khadr is wrongly imprisoned, as also this recent tweet indicates :

“When people say “Omar Khadr is a terrorist, etc” then I know they’re ignorant (or sadistic) without too much examining.”

And again today, the Government of Canada is criticized, from three different angles, for their continuing interference and the unjustified detention of Omar Khadr:

1) Why is Omar Khadr still in jail? – Kathy Copps for Rabble.ca

Do tortured child soldiers belong in Canadian prisons? The fact that Omar Khadr has spent 4254 days in prison, 537 of those days in Canadian detention, should make every Canadian question the essence of our humanity and respect for the rule of law.

Omar’s recent transfer from a maximum to a medium-security prison is a hopeful indication that Correctional Service Canada (C.S.C.) is making decisions independent of prejudicial government pressure, but we have to ask ourselves why Omar is still in jail? Unfortunately for Omar, political interference in the judicial process has a disturbing history, and since his repatriation the intervention of right-wing, Islamophobic government officials, foreshadowed an unjust delay or even a complete denial of his freedom.

… read more

2) Prisons ombudsman raps officials over Omar Khadr | 3rd complaint since Omar’s return – Colin Perkel

Canadian correctional authorities have unfairly classified former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr even though they lowered his risk rating from maximum to medium security, the federal prisons ombudsman complains. The Office of the Correctional Investigator urges prison authorities to take into account evidence that Khadr poses minimal threat and should be classified as such.

“(Correctional Service of Canada) officials also note that there is no evidence Mr. Khadr has maintained an association with any terrorist organization,” the letter to CSC’s senior deputy commissioner states. “It is well documented by CSC officials that Mr. Khadr is fully engaged in his correctional plan and he has actively developed a strong, pro-social network of support since his incarceration.”

… read more

3) Canada: Open Letter to Ministers Peter MacKay and Steven Blaney on the Omar Khadr case -Amnesty International

We are writing to express Amnesty International’s ongoing concern that numerous, serious human rights matters remain unresolved in Omar Khadr’s case, in both Canada and the United States. A substantial amount of time has passed in his case.  It has been more than eleven years since Mr. Khadr was taken into US custody in July 2002.  It has been over four years since the second of two important Supreme Court of Canada rulings in his favour.  And it has been almost eighteen months since Mr. Khadr was transferred to Canada to serve the balance of his sentence.  It is time to resolve the outstanding human rights concerns.

As such, we urge the Canadian government to take steps to ensure full and proper review and resolution of the outstanding human rights concerns and related legal matters in Mr. Khadr’s case.  Specifically, we call on the government to appoint a sitting or retired judge and provide him or her with a mandate to examine the range of outstanding human rights and other legal concerns in Omar Khadr’s case and make recommendations to the government as to how those concerns should be resolved.

… read more

Dennis Edney awareness tour in the UK for Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr Fund for Dennis EdneyDONATION BUTTON:  < PLEASE HELP FUND THIS AWARENESS TOUR FOR OMAR KHADR>Omar Khadr tortured Canadian Child

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.

Friday 14 March 
– An audience with Dennis Edney QC, chaired by Dr Douglas Guilfoyle at the UCL Faculty of Laws.

and
– Where is the Law in War? An Analysis of Omar Khadr’s case. Organised by the Westminster Law Review.

Monday 17 March
– Afternoon lecture with Dennis Edney at Birkbeck College, University of London. Organised by a coalition of student societies.Omar Khadr 4250 days in jail

and
– Dennis Edney talk on Omar Khadr at the Veterans for Peace UK event.

Tuesday 18 March
– Lecture Dennis Edney at Queen Mary, University of London, organised by the Amnesty society.

  • time: 4.30 – 5.30 pm
  • place: Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS

and
– Amnesty International event with Talks from: Dennis Edney, Aaf Post and Andy Worthington about Omar Khadr at the Human Rights Action Centre.

  • time: 7.00 – 9.00 pm
  • place: Human Rights Action Centre, 25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA.

Thursday 20 March
– Q&A with Dennis Edney QC lawyer of Omar Khadr former Guantánamo Bay prison inmate at Amnesty St John’s Wood event

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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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Omar Khadr’s pro bono lawyer wins prestigious Human Rights Award!

On International Human Rights Day:

Dennis Edney QC who has defended Omar Khadr on a pro bono basis for over a decade, wins the Gerald L. Gall Human Rights Award.  It is the highest honor one can receive from the John Humphrey Centre.

There are times in your life when something is so terribly wrong that to walk away is not an option” -Dennis Edney

Two excellent articles on Omar Khadr on the International Human Rights Day:

[+] Harper, International Human Rights Day and Nelson Mandela | Kathy Copps, Rabble.ca

[+] Khadr lawyer receives human rights award | Sheila Pratt, Edmonton Journal

 

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Omar Khadr appeals two court decisions

Appeal in the U.S. – Against the conviction in Guantanamo Military Court

Today, November 8, Omar and his lawyers filed an appeal in Washington, to fight his illegal conviction in a Military Court in Guantanamo, for the war crimes that didn’t exist under international law, when he was captured by the U.S. as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan in 2002. Therefor the military commission had no legal authority to try him or accept his guilty pleas. He pleaded guilty to the war crimes to get out of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre where he was held for 10 years.

Read more here:

Appeal in Canada – Against judge Rooke’s decision; that thwarts transfer from maximum-security federal prison to a provincial jail

On the 6th of November Omar and his lawyer filed an appeal against the Court of Queen’s Bench decision that denied his request to be transferred to a provincial jail. There he can finally receive appropriate rehabilitation. Dennis Edney states: “I am essentially arguing that the judge got it wrong in both fact and law”.
Omar’s detention in the Edmonton maximum-security institution is illegal because he was a child when captured by the U.S.. 

Read more here:

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Lecture Nov 12 | Attorney Samuel Morison, US Department of Defence

The last in the series of three lectures in Edmonton about Omar Khadr.

OMAR KHADR | THE LAWMorison

With:     Attorney Samuel Morison, US Department of Defence
When:   Tuesday, November 12, 19:00
Where:  The Atrium at King’s University College, 9125 – 50 Street, Edmonton

Samuel Morison has practiced law for more than 20 years and is a national recognized expert on federal executive clemency and the restoration of civil rights. He will speak about Omar Khadr’s appeal before the US Federal Court.

[+] the poster of the lectures

[+] the video of the second lecture, by Brigadier General (ret) Dr. Stephen Xenakis

Court Decision on whether Omar can move to a provincial prison

Herewith the decision of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. The nightmare for Omar Khadr continues. He has to stay, day in day out, in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison because the judge has decided this is the correct place for a child who has survived the horrors of Guantanamo.