Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Torture: It's not just for grown ups anymore

Omar Khadr: When stories about the use of child soldiers in Africa hit the Western media, the reaction was largely one of sympathy. The child soldier was someone who was victimized, brainwashed, forced to do horrible things. The questions asked were "How can we let these kids just be kids again? How can they be brought back into human society?"

Our leadership seems to think that everything is different if the child is a muslim, though. Then the question is "how can we torture this child for information?"

Omar Khadr was fourteen or fifteen years old when he was picked up by US soldiers in Afghanistan. No one denies that he was a soldier for Al Quada. His father is one of bin Ladin's lieutenants. Although he mostly grew up in Canada, he also lived in the bin Ladin compound, playing with Bin Ladin's children. No one denies that he threw a hand grenade that killed an American soldier. But none of this makes him significantly different than the children kidnapped into African armies and taught to kill. The fact that the abuse came from his own blood family is irrelevant.

Khadr's parents have probably been telling him his whole life that Americans are devils. Everything that has happened since his capture can only have reinforced this message. He has apparently been beaten, kept in stress positions, denied medical attention, and smeared with his own urine and feces. The last story was reported by his lawyers in a press conference on January 16, 2005. Before you go blowing off this testimony, remember that we have smeared our prisoners in shit before. The guards at Gitmo also like to use the threat of rape, claiming all the time that they are going to transfer him to a foreign prison where they like little boys.

As with all detainees at Gitmo, the main goal of the imprisonment is to manipulate every aspect of the prisoner’s surroundings so that they are perpetually disoriented, lose their sense of identity and ultimately their will to live. The methods were developed by an Air Force called Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) which was originally meant to train our soldiers how to resist torture. It is silly to describe the SERE techniques as somehow torture lite. They were designed very carefully to cause the most possible harm. It is also silly to deny that people at Gitmo are being subject to these techniques. They are built in to the organization of the facility. As a writer for the Rolling Stone put it: "This is Guantanamo Bay: To be held there is, per se, to be tortured."

How can anyone condone the torture of children?

Wikipedia, Rolling Stone.

1 comment:

ChildAdvocate said...

The whole issue of child soldiers is just so crazy that I believe anything now. What we need is to bring more awareness to this issue and get more support. I've linked your blog to mine. Here's the link to my blog on child soldiers...