POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL
A little kindness I would hope.
Having been a child-soldier is only a small part of what happened to this bright and brave young man.
He was shot in the back by American soldiers.
Then he was treated in prison for a long period with no appreciation for his horrible wounds, wounds that would take a long time to heal.
Indeed, his early American military interviewer deliberately used the pain and discomfort of his wounds as a form of torture, making him sit up for his sessions.
He was held in Guantanamo with no access to lawyers or family or the Red Cross, a place which in those days resembled outdoor zoo cages with men in orange suits chained on their knees.
And we know terrible things were done, a number of prisoners having died from their abuse.
Every day would be smirking American torturers who did everything they could to make their prisoners uncomfortable, including sleep-deprivation and ugly acts like the desecration of the Koran.
It would be hard to imagine the terror a 15- or 16-year old experienced under such circumstances.
And in all of this, the basic fact remains that Omar Khadr did not kill that American soldier for which he has been found guilty. We have independent testimony to that fact.
But Khadr was finally reduced to pleading guilty to the charge since it was clear it was his only hope for any kind of future.
However, even supposing he had killed the soldier, Americans just overlook the fact that they were themselves the invaders of the country, and invading soldiers get killed all the time.
Khadr and others in volunteering over there only did what tens of thousands have done in the past, including in emotional events like the Spanish Civil War which drew volunteers from many lands.
And Americans have a long history of being soldiers of fortune, going over to distant lands to kill just for adventure and pay.
There is no tradition of treating such volunteers the way Khadr was treated.
And there is an international convention on the treatment of child soldiers to which the United States is a signatory and which the United States deliberately ignored in all of its dealings with Khadr.
On top of everything else, this is a boy of superior intelligence who has been deprived of any kind of proper education.
In God's name, one hopes that Harper does not display his worst instincts with this young man, playing to the ugly crowd of witch-burners and anti-humanitarians, but I am not hopeful and feel sure comments will be posted here by the hate-filled extremists to whom Harper regularly caters.