Sunday, November 9, 2008

Students rally in support of Omar Khadr in Edmonton

Sunday » November 9 » 2008


 Students rally in support of Omar Khadr in Edmonton


Trish Audette

Canwest News Service


Saturday, November 08, 2008


EDMONTON - Omar Khadr's lawyer says teenagers understand best the plight of his young client, who has been held for six years in Guantanamo Bay accused of war crimes.


"I would be speaking to students," Edmonton lawyer Dennis Edney said Saturday night at a downtown Edmonton rally. "(They) get it. They understand rights. Kids understand."


As many as 200 people, mostly students from local universities and colleges, took part in the rally, which was followed by an event to launch Michelle Shephard's book on Khadr, Guantanamo's Child.

The Canadian-born Khadr was 15 when he was arrested in an Afghanistan firefight in 2002 and taken to Guantanamo Bay, accused of killing an American soldier with a grenade.


Edney has always framed the battle to get him out of the U.S. jail as an issue of human rights and child protection under the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child.


Khadr's trial on five counts under the 2006 Military Commissions Act is set to begin in January, six days after Barack Obama takes office as president.


Obama has indicated he wants to shut down the war prisoner detention camps at Guantanamo Bay altogether.

Khadr's defence lawyers, meanwhile, have long called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to request Khadr be extradited and tried in Canada.


"Even as late as today, we have been speaking to officials in the Bush administration, and the clear message is, 'If you want Omar out, get your prime minister to call'," Edney said.


Geoff Brouwer, 20, was one of the rally's key organizers. A student at King's University College in Edmonton, Brouwer said he was inspired to lead the event after hearing Khadr's story when Edney visited his school.


"It really impacted me that this is a Canadian citizen, a child captured," Brouwer said. "There's so many human rights violations in the world . . . but this is an issue that hits close to home. He's the same age as many of us."


Ozair Vicaruddin, a 21-year-old University of Alberta student, said he's as old as Khadr.

"It's kind of scary thinking that a 15-year-old can get caught up (for) so many years," he said.


Edmonton Journal


© Edmonton Journal 2008


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