Khadr supported in hunger strike

July 2, 2014

Omar Khadr, who is central to the following article, has been released from the American prison in Guantanamo Bay and is now detained back here in Canada. It can be assumed that this is a good thing for Khadr because his family lives in this country so can more easily visit him and be in touch with him. Also, torture is not practiced in the Canadian penal system and other standards are better than in the Guantanamo Bay prison. Generally, Canada has a more humane penal system than the United States does. We do not have the death penalty, for example.

I was motivated to write the article below for several reasons. When you know someone who is on a hunger strike then, if you are a journalist, you want to write about it by way of supporting the person who feels strongly enough about a societal issue that he or she will risk health and possibly loss of life.

In addition to this, I believe Guantanamo Bay prison should be abolished. It is infamous for its extreme torture practices. President Obama has been known to condemn the South African penal system but yet, as one of my friends on Facebook recently pointed out,the United States has a larger percentage of its population in jail than anywhere else in the world. The television series, Orange is the new Black, on Netflix is giving us a window into what that country’s prison system is all about.

The article is a bit of a milestone in that I quote Facebook and Wikipedia. In 2009, social media was on the cusp of becoming the social news source that is now is. As well, I quote CBC radio.

As a reporter, I like to go directly to the source but in this case my source was on a hunger strike. He was in no condition to give me all of the background details I felt I needed to put together the back story so readers would grasp the situation more fully.

Here is the story:

Island Tides

January 29, 2009

Khadr supported in hunger strike

by Tanya Lester

Christian Tatonetti, a former Salt Spring Island resident, spent over half of January on a hunger strike in support of Omar Khadr, the Canadian imprisoned for seven years, since the age of 15, in the United States prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Tatonetti, a musician who now lives in Victoria, wrote to his 340 supporters on Facebook, “I believe that Obama should and will do the right thing and Omar will be sent home in light of the false evidence that has been brought before the courts.”

The day before Tatonetti ended his 18-day strike on January 20, President Obama announced suspension of Khadr’s trial for 120 days while the new US administration investigates how it should proceed with Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Tatonetti, who lived for a decade on Salt Spring and sold his ‘Bare with Me’ soap at the Saturday market, also stated that his friends were concerned for his health after two-and-a-half weeks of a liquid-only diet.

On a CBC television news story, Lieutenant Commander William Kuebler, Khadr’s lawyer, said based on his client’s ‘child soldier’ status, he doubted whether the trial would reconvene in a US military court.

On Facebook, Tatonetti stated that he prayed ‘the world’s politicians will come to realize that too many children across the world are cruelly exploited and deprived of their childhood. Whether they make toys, clothes or war weapons in sweat shops or whether they are exploited by the sex trade globally or involved in armed conflicts (may they) one day, be free. Free Omar Khadr.’

According to Wikipedia, the Toronto-born Canadian at 15-years-old was in an Afganistan house bombed by US military. He was accused of retaliating by throwing a grenade which ended in a US soldier’s death. However, the Internet encyclopedia states that in February 2008 the US Pentagon accidentally issued documents indicating there was no evidence Khadr hurled the grenade. Military officials, in fact, claimed someone else threw the grenade which resulted in the fatality.

Peter McKay, Minister of National Defense, in a CBC radio story, stated that the Harper government would re-evaluate its position to not interfere with the US Military Commision’s handling of the Khadr case now that the trial has been adjourned.

Michael Ignatieff, the Canadian Liberal Opposition leader, indicated that he believes Khadr should be repatriated to this country and that the Guantanamo Bay prison should be shut down…
–END–

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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester is available to buy from the author or by going to amazon.com

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