“The only crime in my view, equal to willful inhumanity is the crime of indifference, silence and forgetting.”
Dennis Edney, Lawyer For Omar Khadr speaks on Fear, Injustice and his Guantanamo visits in a Conference on Islamophobia and The Politics of Fear at Islamic Society of York Region, Toronto Canada, May 21, 2011. This is the conference that Moazzam Begg was deniedpermission to board a direct Air Canada flight from London to Toronto to speak at “because of US policy” and the extremely unlikely possibility that the flight may be diverted into US air space.
The following are transcribed excerpts from Dennis Edney’s speech.
What we are witnessing is the constant drip of sanity slipping from our grasp as our apathy has allowed whispers of anti-Muslim sentiment to become part of the mainstream on conversation.
On Guantanamo protecting us: We want to protect ourselves from the voice of people like Moazzam Begg.
And we’re just simply to accept that the government knows what’s best for us. And should be left to get on with the job. That’s the same language we use here in Canada. It’s the same language I meet every day when I fight my way up to get disclosure. I’m not entitled to get disclosure because I and the Canadian public, you know, we just can’t be trusted with secret information. So I have to go in a secret court, and fight in a secret court. And then what do I find. I find that the information isn’t that secret after all. It covers up egregious misconduct by our government.
And you are not allowed, when you are in Guantanamo Bay, to mention Camp 7 or ask any questions. Because the prisoners in Camp 7, they’re just nobody. They were brought over last year, from some of the prisons in Europe and other countries. And I remember saying to a lieutenant colonel, who is the head of all the lawyers and military lawyers for the eastern seaboard. I said “How do you get lawyers for these guys in Camp 7?” He said “Forget it, Mr. Edney. They’re toast.” And all the rest of these well educated, Harvard educated lawyers all nodded their heads in approval. So one can only imagine what goes on in Camp 7.
On visiting Unit C in Camp 5: Unit C is 32 single cells. And each one of those detainees who had been chosen to be a hunger striker was moved into these solitary cells. And that was over five years ago. And no one ever asked these detainees, as rotations changed, as military personnel moved on, knocked on the door of these cells and said to any one of the detainees “Do you still wish to be a hunger striker?” Assuming they ever were in the first place. No one asked that question. And in the review of the documents there was nothing to determine what criteria was being used to determine whether someone was a hunger striker or whether he was simply on a fast.
But outside of each cell is a restraining chair, or what I call a feeding chair. So those individuals are now into their sixth year in Guantanamo in these solitary cells because they were deemed to be on a hunger strike. But the story gets better. Because outside each cell is a feeding chair, and three times a day they are force fed, they are strapped into those chairs by the feet, by the waist, by the neck, put into these chairs with tubes inserted into their nose, and force fed. Three times a day. And after that they are left sitting in the chair for hours. And amongst those is my friend Mohammed.
He describes a Yemeni prisoner who was fed with an extra large feeding tube (causing permanent damage to his nose and throat) and deliberately left in his chair until he urinated and defecated on himself. Mohammed was down to 100 pounds and less. The federal court judge’s response to Edney regarding this treatment was that the court could not touch that, it was up to the correctional facility.
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.
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.