Omar Speaks | Quotes by people who know him

Omar Khadr First thing I tell the Canadian people1Omar Khadr May 20, 2020

“I have never met anyone like Omar. Who I believe can give so much to the world, but has been so abandoned by so many that should know better. And all the times I’ve been with him I have never heard him say an angry word about anyone. … What he is, is he is a good man”. - Dennis Edney, Omar’s Lawyer.

“He’s a smart, extremely decent young man. Thoughtful, very sensitive and I will say, amazingly, there’s hardly an instinct of aggression or meanness in him at all.” - Brigadier General (ret) Stephen N. Xenakis, M.D. Army Medical Corps officer and certified child / adolescent psychologist who spent more than 200 hours with Omar Khadr.

“The last time I saw Omar he said to me “Nobody cares about me” and that will remain with me forever… I will never forget his case; I will never forget the individual or what happened to him or how I saw him. For me, his case epitomizes everything that is wrong in Guantanamo and the War on Terror.” - Moazzam Begg, British citizen with whom Omar shared a cell in Bagram. He has since been repatriated to the UK and released without charge.

“I have been a Professor of English for 20 years and I have worked with Omar Khadr both by correspondence and in person for almost 5 years. Omar is an enthusiastic and hardworking student despite adverse learning conditions. Through our studies of Canadian literature he demonstrates the quality of his person. Omar consistently produces readings that are marked by compassionate insight and intelligent charity.” - Dr. Arlette Zinck, Associate Professor, English, The King’s University College.

“I wish I could do something that would take this pain away from you,” - Omar Khadr, as he stood in the witness box and directly faced the widow and friends of U.S. Delta Force soldier Christopher Speer. [Omar was tortured, as a severely wounded 15-year-old in Bagram, to make him confess the killing of Speer. Counter evidence, that was not allowed during the military tribunal, like shrapnel from an U.S. granade on Speer and a tampered field report show however that  the death of Speer was caused by friendly fire].

“During my time here [Guantanamo], as Nelson Mandela says … the most important thing you have is time to think about things. I came to the conclusion that … you’re not going to gain anything with hate. Second thing, it’s more destructive than it’s constructive. Third thing: I came to a conclusion that love and forgiveness are more constructive and will bring people together.” - Omar Khadr. October 2010, when he accepted the get-out-of-Guantanamo deal, offered by his U.S. captors and plead guilty to five made up ex post facto charges in a Guantanamo military court.

“I watch him when we’re standing waiting to go in (the cells) and he’s talking guards and young soldiers. You can see he really enjoys talking to them.”  … “When I sit in a room with him with this young man (Khadr), I see the same kind of listening and compassion. That’s the kind of mind we need right now, people who can look across what we’re going through in the war on terror.” - New York psychologist Katherine Porterfield about Omar Khadr in Guantanamo.

“Omar Khadr has problems with arthritis in his knees. So they sit him on a stool so he has to bend his knees. “Anything that makes you uncomfortable, Guantanamo Bay will come up with it. … They keep the place freezing. Omar Khadr reminded me of a broken little bird. … When I see Omar on July 3, he will be on a chair. Things have become much more humanitarian at Guantanamo, he gets a chair. And he is always, always chained from the waist to the floor. I have never seen him walk other than the few occasions that we’ve been in court. In all those years, I have never seen him walk. He has fought for close to eight years to get a pair of protective glasses to preserve the amount of sight remaining in Omar’s one eye with vision. He received them in November of last year. That is the extent of the help Omar has received from the Canadian government, they can’t even get him a pair of glasses.” - Dennis Edney, Omar Khadr’s Lawyer speaks on Fear, Injustice and his Guantanamo visits

Interview with Omar’s former cellmate Omar Deghayes:

Did you have any contact with Omar Khadr?

OD: Yes definitely. I know him very well. He was locked up in Camp 5 for a long time, and I saw him in the other camp also before for a short period of time. But in Camp 5 I was locked up with him for a long time.

Do you think that Omar Khadr would be a threat to society if and when he is released to Canada?

OD: No. Definitely not. Even the guard and the interrogators in Guantanamo I think used to like him a lot … for his personality. He is an open, kind person. I don’t think he would be a threat to society. No.

What do you think the effects of nine years of being detained at Guantanamo and in other places, including black sites, starting at age fifteen would have on someone like Omar?

OD: Definitely gross destruction to his psychology and personality as a child.

He was a child when he was brought. I remember him when he was brought first to the prisons. And I saw him afterwards in Camp 5 where he had grown in prison, and where he started to have a beard and a moustache. Before he didn’t.

To grow inside prison, and inside very abnormal circumstances like those, where people threaten, physically beaten, sometimes … He was very ill, because I think he had lots of injuries and wounds. And he wasn’t treated for those wounds … and they were used against him by interrogators and doctors.

And to grow in an environment like that … I am sure it will have a devastating effect on him in the future.

I remember him receiving letters from his family. Some of them…you were able to see that some of them were censored. And even the letters were even more disturbing for him … because I think some of his family were describing problems that they were facing outside in Canada.

I remember talking to him about some of those … a few times in the showers. They were very very disturbing … imagine a child growing up with adult men in a lock up like that.

Even he is not on the same level of … you do not find the same level of companionship … it must be very difficult for him. I am sure it will have lasting effect on him.

The whole condition … isolation. Even because of his age, he wasn’t spared the isolation and lock ups. I mean they treated him like just another … like anyone else. Even … if not worse sometimes.

So, I think it must be very devastating for somebody at a tender young age like his. If other people like myself and other men … more grown ups … we might have had some experience in life … and we might have been able to cope and be patient with some things … and try to make sense of things. For a child of his age … I think it must be very destructive.

Do you have a sense of what kind of support Omar would need if he were to be released?

OD: I am sure he would need support. Yes.

Like something like what I had. We had family to understand…and family contacts … and then we had lots of friends who were here working, who were very sympathetic to conditions…and we were always surrounded by those friends…and they tried to help and sometimes explain … even in normal things in life.

Like we needed some help in going to medical assistance, and they might have be able to contact people or they knew other friends that might help … and things like that.

Even normal things like that … and try to adjust to normal life again.

He will definitely need lots of help from people. Maybe even medical doctors. Family and friends and sympathetic society.

If society … I don’t know how things are in Canada. If they are hostile … it might just cause more damage and more resentment and fear and he would lock himself inside in isolation…like I have seen with other people who have sensed that society are hostile against them.

But I think with freedom and family support I am sure … he is a very intelligent young boy … young man.

And I think he is a very sociable, and very talented, and very intelligent.

I think if he was to be free, I think he would make a good future I am sure, and turn his experiences into positive experience.

I told him when he gets released … I asked him to contact me that I can help him with marriage, or something like that. Cause I know his father died when he was in prison, and it must have affected him.

Source quote 2,3,4 :

2 comments on “Omar Speaks | Quotes by people who know him

  1. I saw the documentary that Amnesty International showed about Omar about 2 years ago. It was the most painful film I’ve ever seen. Whenever I think of Omar, my eyes fill with tears. The torture he has received from the US and Canada is one of the greatest evils that this young man has had to endure. I look for the day that he will become a free man. Thanks for giving me a glimpse of the extraordinary man he has become.


  2. Pingback: “Omar Khadr has… - smashedlantern

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