At least, to the Harper government.
At first it was just Omar Khadr and Maher Arar. Oh, and Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin also had lovely “vacations” in Syria. Abousfian Abdelrazik was detained and tortured in Sudan (with apparent collusion, if not at the direct request of, our government), and when he finally got out of prison, Ottawa put every hurdle they could come up with against bringing him home. Then there are Abdihakim Mohammed and Suaad Haji Mohamud, who in separate incidents were stranded in Kenya and left to fend for themselves by their government – in fact, in Mohamud’s case it was the Canadian government that accused her of identity fraud. These people seem to have something in common besides having gotten the shit-end of Harper’s foreign policy stick*.
Although available evidence indicates otherwise, maybe Omar Khadr really was in Afghanistan entirely of his own free will, because of a commitment to wage violent jihad to bring down the decadent West. Maybe he did throw the grenade that killed the American medic – though even if he did, I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around the idea that the Military, of all organizations, would call killing a soldier on the other side during a time of war murder.
None of that, however, should matter to the Government of Canada. Not who his parents are, what kind of person he is, what he did or didn’t do, or why he (allegedly) did them. There are precisely two things that should matter. First of all, that Khadr is a Canadian citizen being held by a foreign country without trial, for a crime that carries the death penalty. And secondly, that as a fifteen-year-old at the time of his capture, Khadr was a child soldier. Khadr’s detention and treatment in Guantanamo Bay have been in direct violation of international humanitarian law concerning child soldiers.
From the moment of Khadr’s capture, the government of Canada should have been doing for him, everything they would do for a white, Christian teen awaiting trial for a capital crime in Iran – only it should have been much easier to get him home since he’s being held by a regime a bit friendlier to Canada than Iran. The kid – now a man – has been in Gitmo for seven years without trial and without protest from our America-fellating lapdog government. Two lower courts have already ruled that Ottawa must demand Khadr’s return. The feds have appealed both times. Sometime today we’ll hear whether the Supreme Court will hear this latest appeal.
I find myself wondering if the Canada I once believed in still exists – or if it ever did. Once upon a time, Canada, due to our opposition to the death penalty, would go to bat for Canadians sentenced to execution in other countries. All the time. Even if they’d done really awful things. Because the death penalty is wrong and as Canadians we want to stand up for justice and humanitarianism. Nowadays, not so much. To the point that they’re rewriting our foreign policy. Go read both articles; either one is scary, but together and in the face of what’s been in the news lately, it’s chilling.
*To be fair, there is a white guy on death row in the States that Harper has done fuck-all about, and a brown Muslim kid in Saudi Arabia that they’re at least making token efforts for, so it’s not a 100% brown/Muslim = you’re on your own, and correlation isn’t causation. But it sure is an interesting correlation, isn’t it.