WATCH: University crowd gives Omar Khadr a standing ovation
Omar Khadr made his first public speaking appearance yesterday in Halifax on a panel discussing child soldiers.
The talk, held at Dalhousie University, was hosted in partnership with the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.
The initiative, founded by Canadian humanitarian Lieutenant-General The Honourable Romeo Dellaire, seeks to raise awareness and to fight against the rising trend of child soldiers worldwide.
Others on the panel included former child soldier-turned activist Ishmael Beah. Khadr was hosted as the keynote speaker.
Khadr told the crowd that he was looking to do good in the world. The crowd would, eventually, give a standing ovation.
“I just want to see how I can help and what I can do to better humanity,” said Khadr, according to Global News.
A small group of protestors gathered outside the event at the Rebecca Cohn Theatre to protest Khadr’s appearance on the panel.
Event security was tight, as the only ones given permission to enter the building were ticket holders and law enforcement.
The event was hosted and moderated by the executive director of the Dallaire Initiative, Dr. Shelly Whitman, who noted that international law clearly outlines that children who are used as soldiers in conflict can not be held criminally responsible for their participation.
Whitman said that neither guest was being paid to speak.
Omar Khadr was captured and brought to Guantanamo Bay at the age of 15 after a firefight with American forces that led to the death of US Sgt. Christopher Speer.
The Supreme Court of Canada would later rule that the capturing and the events that followed were in direct violation of Khadr’s human rights. Khadr settled with the Canadian government for $10.5 million.
The CBC has pulled its participation from an event featuring the convicted terrorist Omar Khadr at Dalhousie University in Halifax on Monday.
Nahlah Ayed, who hosts the CBC program Ideas, decided to opt out of the event, choosing to explore the subject “at another time in a different way.”
The event will also feature remarks from Dr. Shelly Whitman and author and Canadian hero Hon. Romeo Dallaire, who is well known for his work in Rwanda during the nation’s genocide.
Omar Khadr is a former child soldier who was involved in a firefight with US soldiers in 2002, leaving one US soldier dead. Khadr was wounded in the firefight and captured—being taken to Guantanamo Bay where he was held without charge.
In 2017, Justin Trudeau’s federal government awarded Khadr a $10.5 million settlement. Khadr went on to purchase a strip mall in Edmonton with some of the money.
Omar Khadr was invited to be a keynote speaker at an event at Dalhousie University that protests the use of child soldiers. The event is being hosted by Dalhousie University and the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.
Khadr’s invitation to speak at Dalhousie was met with considerable online backlash.
As of right now, the event is scheduled to go on despite the backlash from the Canadian public.
According to Dalhousie University’s website, Khadr will be speaking at an event titled Children’s Rights Upfront: Preventing the Recruitment and Use of Children in Violence in February, 2020.
The event will be hosted by the CBC’s Nahlah Ayed and will feature others who served as child soldiers, notably Ishmael Beah, now Sierra Leonian activist.
Khadr, who is well known for his victory in Canadian court for winning over $10 million dollars for human rights abuses, has been on somewhat of a media tour in recent months. After purchasing an Edmonton-area strip mall, Khadr appeared on CBC’s Tout Le Monde En Parle, a French-language TV show which gave him a hero’s welcome.
The event will also feature remarks from Dr. Shelly Whitman and author and Canadian hero Hon. Roméo Dallaire, who is well known for his work in Rwanda during the nation’s genocide.
“The event coincides with the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers Red Hand Day on February 12. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Dallaire Initiative’s partnership with Dalhousie University,” the event description reads.
In 2019, a judge ruled that Khadr’s war crimes had expired. He was then relieved of bail conditions. This allowed him to obtain a Canadian passport.