Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Government Targeting of the Khadr Family

What does a Canadian have to do to prove he's not a security risk to a Conservative government that was ordered by a Federal court to give him a passport? That's the quandry Abdurahman Khadr faces once again.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has refused a passport to Abdurahman Khadr for reasons of national security, even though a federal court judge ordered Ottawa to cease denying the former terrorism suspect his travel document.

“It's not only our national security, it's the national security of other countries,” a senior government official told The Globe and Mail Tuesday. “And it goes to the integrity and the responsibility that goes with carrying a Canadian passport.”

The 23-year-old Mr. Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen, was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and was held for months as an “enemy combatant” by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was released in 2003, but only after he agreed to spy for the United States. He has never been charged with any crime; however, he had been denied a passport by the Canadian government.

On June 8, the Federal Court of Canada found that Mr. Khadr was entitled to the “fairness and legitimate expectation owed to all Canadian citizens” in terms of applying for a passport. Ottawa was told it had used dubious grounds to deny him a passport, and was ordered to cease doing so.

Khadr was held at Gitmo and released by the US government. Whether or not you believe in his CIA story, what we do know is this: it takes a helluva lot for anyone to be set free from Gitmo and the forces that be certainly wouldn't have released Khadr if they thought he was a national security risk to any country. Thet begs the question then: why is this Canadian Conservative government continuing to treat Khadr as if he's a criminal? Would it not be incumbent upon McKay to actually provide evidence to prove such claims or is he just going to hide behind Bushco's national security risk excuse, which is the same justification used to send Canada's Maher Arar to Syria to be tortured, in order to deny Khadr his right to travel outside of the country?

Mckay, in circumventing the Federal court decision used new rules written into passport laws that came into effect after Khadr's case was decided in order to deny his application. So, what exactly is in those new rules that would still deem Khadr as being a risk? Is McKay using 'dubious grounds' once again to stop an innocent man from attaining a passport? Is the Conservative government simply using guilt by association by pointing to the activities of his family members, past and present, to strip him of his rights? If you don't think so, look at this line in the Globe and Mail article:

The minister's decision amounts to a victory for the federal government in its decade-long legal battle with members of the Khadr family. Their links to al-Qaeda are by now well known.

What's wrong with this picture?

If the Canadian government has proof that Khadr and his family members are associated with al Qaeda or terrorist activities, why don't they arrest them? And what's with this vendetta against the family? They are not all guilty, yet they are all being lumped together: guilty until proven innocent.

That also explains why the government is doing absolutely nothing to secure the release or, at least, some humane treatment for Omar Khadr who has been tortured in Gitmo.

The passport fight is just one of the many battles the federal government is waging against members of the Khadr family, most of whom returned to Toronto after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001.

Omar Khadr, 19, remains in the U.S.-run Cuban jail, having spent the past four years there facing allegations that he had killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. U.S. courts judged this summer that the legal regime at Guantanamo Bay is illegal, making it anyone's guess as to when Omar Khadr may actually face trial.

The Khadr family has a long and controversial history. That, however, should not be used against members of that family by the Canadian government to treat all of them as if they are terrorists without even granting them a fair and just trial - not in the court of public opinion, which McKay can certainly manipulate - but in an actual court with a real judge, such as the one who decided that Abdurahman Khadr be given a fair chance to get a passport. Anything less is just revenge on the government's part and the puppeting of Bushco methods to hang people out to dry - and worse - in the name of the war on terrorism.

Is this the kind of Canada you want to live in?

Resource: You can view Frontline's 'Son of al Qaeda', a documentary about Abdurahman Khadr, online free.

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