Demonstrators Rally For Release Of Guantanamo's Youngest Prisoner
The wind driven rain may have pounded the downtown Toronto streets on Saturday, but it wasn't enough to stop the hundred plus protesters who turned out in front of the American consulate, to demand the release of Omar Khadr, a Canadian who is being held at the infamous American prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Khadr, now 21, has been held in U.S. custody since 2002 when he was captured after a battle with U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. He’s been charged for allegedly murdering an American military medic with a hand grenade and is due for trial this October.
The Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, which was one of the protest organizers, called Khadr's detainment "a national disgrace, and an international embarrassment for all Canadians."
Members of Khadr's family, including his younger brother Karim, and older sister Zaynab, where also in attendance.
"We're hoping to raise awareness of Omar's situation," Omar's brother Karim said.
"If it was his (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) son , would he have waited six years to investigate?" Zaynab asked.
"If there was a case against my brother they wouldn't have waited six," She continued.
Amnesty International (AI) stated that Omar Khadr is one of over 800 detainees that have been held in Guantanamo Bay prison detention centre and the only western national still there.
They're calling on the U.S. government to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay and bring the remaining detainees to American soil where they can be tried in accordance with both U.S. domestic and international law.
AI is also calling on the Canadian government to intercede on behalf of Omar Khadr and re-patriot him to Canada.
"As early as 2003, the Canadian government was made aware that Omar Khadr was subject to mistreatment and torture in Guantanamo Bay and did not intercede on the behalf of this Canadian," An AI spokesperson said.
Weeks ago, Khadr's lawyers released a video filmed during an interrogation from Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) agents at Guantanamo in 2003, showing the distraught youngster pleading for help.
Stuart Trew of the Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut Council for Canadians stated that it's fairly obvious that Omar cant get justice at Guantanamo Bay.
"This place should be shut down immediately and we also know that in October, if we don’t bring him back home right now, he’s gonna' undergo what we can all say is a "kangaroo court", a show-trial process that’s designed to actually produce convictions and not to produce justice, so we demand that he be brought home right away," Trew exclaimed.
Another organizer of the event, the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) says Canada is a country lead by governments that has no respect for rule of law and no respect for Canadian citizenship.
"Shame on Harper for condoning the incarceration and torture of a Canadian Child. Shame on Harper for undermining the individual basic human rights of Canadian citizens. Shame on Harper for giving away Canadian citizenry to the Bush Administration," CAF President Khaled Mouammar said.
July 27th marked Omar Khadr's sixth year in U.S. custody, where he’s due to stand an American military trial which could sentence him to life in prison.