My heart was breaking this morning reading the report on Omar Khadr’s decision to fire his lawyers in protest over the horrors he is being subject to in what he considers to be a rigged trial. “He is a young man who has lost all faith in the process,” said Dennis Edney, one of his Canadian lawyers. And no wonder. Tortured as a teenager, imprisoned without conviction for years, the sole remaining prisoner in the disgraced Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and still there even after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that his rights were violated. And now the ultimate indignity of being faced by his torturers, one of whom boasted to the court “that he terrified teenage prisoners by telling them they would be gang-raped to death by ‘four big black guys’ unless they confessed.”
Omar Khadr is using the only power he has to resist, the power of refusal. After the nightmarish testimony of his abusers, he refused to attend the trial any further and now he has fired his lawyers not so much to delay the process as to shine a light on the injustices being heaped upon him. His action reminds me of the heroine of the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo who is massively and brutally abused by every level of the system only to emerge so strong and skillful she is practically a super hero.
I am hopeful that Omar Khadr will emerge from this nightmare as a strong and powerful figure along the lines of Nelson Mandela. On Saturday, I will MC a rally for civil liberties in Canada in face of the police state established to protect the G20 rulers. There is no single Canadian whose civil liberties have been more violated than Omar Khadr. Let’s add his name to the demands of the mobilizations around the G20. In any case I will give a shout out for him on Saturday, for his suffering and for his courage and dignity in face of the most unimaginable abuse and horror.