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Omar Khadr: Brief Biography Omar was born in Toronto on Sept. 19, 1986 and spent most of his childhood moving between Pakistan and Canada. Omar Khadr is the son of Ahmed Said Khadr, an Egyptian-Canadian who had ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. At 10, the family moved in Afghanistan and Omar was entered in weapons training. On July 27, 2002, Khadr was captured in Afghanistan by American soldiers at age 15, accused of fatally injuring a U.S. army medic with a hand grenade. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in October where he currently remains. In March 2008, Khadr claims he was threatened with rape and violence by interrogators when he confessed years earlier to being a terrorist. In August 2010, Khadr’s trial officially began. However, it came to an abrupt halt when his lawyer collapsed in court. Khadr’s trial resumed on October 25, 2010. Khadr’s Plea Bargain On October 25, 2010, Omar Khadr pled guilty to a series of terrorism-related charges including murder and attempted murder. After hearing arguments from both sides, a jury recommended he serve 40 years in jail. However, because he agreed to plead guilty, he was sentenced to eight years in jail. The first year will be served in an adult prison in Guantanamo Bay. After that, he can apply to transfer to Canada. The Canadian government has indicated it will accept this request. Key Terms child soldier – There is no set definition of a child solider. According to UNICEF, this is any child under 18 years old who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group demobilized – to discharge from military service indoctrinate – in teach a set of principles in a way that doesn’t allow criticism rehabilitation – to restore to a condition of good health reintegration – to return to a society following a period of mental illness or trauma terrorism – the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce unconditional – not limited by conditions, absolute
Global Voices Secondary Educator Resources
Note to Educators:
The following activities are designed to stimulate a current events discussion. Generative in nature, these questions can be a launching point for additional assignments or research projects. Teachers are encouraged to adapt these activities to meet the contextual needs of their classroom. In some cases, reading the article with students may be appropriate, coupled with reviewing the information sheet to further explore the concepts and contexts being discussed. From here, teachers can select from the questions provided below. Activities are structured to introduce students to the issues, then allow them to explore and apply their learnings. Extension and conclusion activities are included to challenge students and finally, encourage them to reflect on the issues at hand. Ontario curriculum connections charts for grades 6 to 12 are included on the Global Voices homepage, www.thestar.com/globalvoices. Since these activities are designed as discussions rather than formal lessons, assessment strategies are not included.
Themes and Course Connections
Rehabilitation, behaviour, negative reinforcement, violence, child soldiers, forgiveness. Course Connections: Canadian and World Studies, English.
Chart paper Blackboard Computers and internet
Specific Expectations and Learning Goals
Students will: Participate in active class discussions. Learn about the ways in which behaviour is influenced focusing on negative reinforcement. Learn about rehabilitation techniques. Practice their media literacy skills. Discuss the power and importance of unconditional love and forgiveness.
Knowledge and Understanding
1. Behaviour (estimated time: 15 minutes) a. Ask students to go through the following examples and explain how their behaviour would be affected by the outcomes of the following actions: i. Every time you complete your homework you are able to see your friends. ii. Every time you don’t make your bed you are punished. iii. If you work a part time job, your parents allow you to drive the family car. iv. Every time you open your bedroom window, the noise from the street bothers you. v. Every time you receive an A on an assignment, you are given $10. 1 of 3
b. After students have documented their behavioural reactions to the above scenarios ask them the following suggested questions: i. Were you more or less likely to perform a specific action if you received a positive reaction or reward? ii. Were you more or less likely to perform a specific action if you received a punishment or a negative reaction? c. Explain to students that these are natural behavioural reactions to positive or negative stimuli. Explain that in the case of child soldiers, they are forced to take on a lifestyle of violence through this same sort of process. d. Hold a discussion around child soldiers using the following suggested questions: i. Are these children naturally violent? Were they born that way? ii. Why do child soldiers adopt such violent behaviours? iii. What would happen to them if they did not do as they were asked? e. Explain to students that children become child soldiers through a process of negative reinforcement where they adopt certain behaviours and carry out actions in order to avoid being punished or even killed, no matter the consequences of the actions. Eventually, in order to survive, they become desensitized and carry out these behaviours as if they had chosen to do so. f. Ask students to join into partners and discuss the process of negative reinforcement and desensitization and how this contributes to children becoming child soldiers. g. When pairs have finished their discussions, bring the class back together and reflect on each pair’s discoveries and opinions.
1. Read the Global Voices Column independently. (estimated time: 15 minutes) a. Reflection: i. Ask students to record point form notes in response to the article. ii. Ask students to record 5 questions that they are unsure of from their initial reading of the article. iii. Make sure that students do to not record a plot summary; instead, ask that they address new things that they learned and questions that they have. 2. Media Literacy (estimated time: 10 minutes) a. Ask each student to perform an OPVL on the Global Voices column. i. Origin: what is the source of this column? ii. Purpose: why was this column written? iii. Value: what are the facts and statistics in this column that give it value? iv. Limitations: what perspective is the column written from, does this cause limitations? Whose voice or opinion is missing from the column? (Teacher note: Discuss how the child soldiers’ families would feel about rehabilitation). b. When this is complete, bring the class back together and discuss student answers.
1. Rehabilitation: Reflection (estimated time: 20 minutes) a. In Freetown, Sierra Leone, demobilized child soldiers are rehabilitated through unconditional love and forgiveness. Ask students to write a reflection on this rehabilitation technique and why they feel it is successful.
1. Rehabilitation: Research Project (estimated time: continuous project) a. It is believed that Omar Khadr is “highly dangerous” and that rehabilitation will be difficult. It has fallen upon Canada to take charge in this rehabilitation process 2 of 3
and provide Omar with a positive environment so that all parties can heal. Ask students to research types of rehabilitative treatments that are used in Canada, offering solutions and directions for the case of Omar Khadr.
In addition to the above lesson plans, you may want to share some additional resources with your students. Listed below are some links to useful online resources: Children and Armed Conflict - http://www.un.org/children/conflict/english/index.html BBC News - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1815223.stm CBC News - http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/10/27/omar-khadr-united-nations-childsoldier.html The Toronto Star - http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/883469--walkom-omar-khadr-sguantanamo-show-trial The Toronto Star - http://www.thestar.com/specialsections/omarkhadr/article/717885--omarkhadr-innocent-in-death-of-u-s-soldier The Forgiveness Project – www.theforgivenessproject.org War Dance - movie - http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/war-dance/ Invisible Children movie - http://freedocumentaries.org/film.php?id=114 Emmanuel Jal - TED Talks http://www.ted.com/talks/emmanuel_jal_the_music_of_a_war_child.html ; and book "Child Soldier"
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