Did you see Omar Khadr's mother and sister's lambasting of Canadians? I did and it was upsetting. How ungrateful can one be? That is the atmosphere Omar grew up with. His parents were able to take him out of Canadian schools to Afghanistan where his father was well acquainted with Osama bin Laden.
Canada helped draft and was one of the first to sign an international agreement against the recruitment and use of child soldiers. They must have been concerned about what happens in Africa, but when they were really tested they failed. Although Omar is often pictured as our most concrete symbol of terrorist evil, in reality he is more a poster boy for the evils of child soldiers.
Different versions of what happened confuse the issue, but it seems certain people were killing one another. I am sure Omar felt an affinity with his comrades and acted like most would in a vicious gang fight, especially when he was also attacked. Perhaps we wonder why he couldn't rise above it all and see the opportunity to get on the right side. That is a lot to expect of a 15 year old. This was part of George Bush's "War on Terror that in its different theatres has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Most of them were not labeled murder.
Canadians take it for granted that we have a legal system that makes us superior to less civilized nations. Omar Khadr saw very little of what might be considered reasonable legal procedures. His lawyers have stated that he was tortured in various ways including water boarding and that he was coerced into confession.
The Harper government is embarrassing us again. Why are we the only western government not to stick up for our own citizens? Why are they still trying to curtail his freedom? It has been said that we don't want to offend the Americans. Perhaps that is true, but I don't think it is the government they are afraid of offending, but the conservative opposition to the American government. Maybe even more basic is the evangelical component.
There is really not a lot to decide. Do we hold 15 year olds responsible for their parents' direction?
Omar has overcome a lot of barriers and is now set to start a new life. Will we give him a chance/
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