13 July 2010

Omar Khadr - why is our government deaf to the truth?

"I will not willingly let the U.S. government use me to fulfill its goal. I have been used too many times when I was a child, and that's why I'm here - taking blame for things I didn't have a choice in doing, but was forced to do by elders."

With those words, Omar Khadr described his situation precisely. He was indoctrinated by his elders, by his own parents, from the time he was born, into an extremist ideology and then sent at the age of 14 to Afghanistan and placed in the hands of the Taliban. There he had no choice but to do their bidding. He is, in other words, a classic example of a child soldier. And it is because of this sordid exploitation of children's total vulnerability that civilized people do not punish child soldiers. We rehabilitate them.

I am saddened that our government refuses to recognize this truth and defend Omar's rights as a child soldier and, of course, as a Canadian. Why are they so determined to see this young man suffer? Is it to placate the Americans? Or do they share the Americans' blood lust for revenge?

Whatever their motives, they shame this country. They implicate all Canadians in this egregious injustice. And, worst of all, they unnecessarily extend the suffering of Omar Khadr.

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