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Omar Khadr: Brief Biography Omar Khadr is the son of Ahmed Said Khadr, an Egyptian-Canadian who had ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Omar was born in Toronto on Sept. 19, 1986 and spent most of his childhood moving between Pakistan and Canada. When Omar was nine-years-old, his father was arrested in Pakistan for his involvement in the bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad. Omar’s mother brought up the matter in a meeting with then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Eventually, he was released. The family moved to Afghanistan in 1996. Omar was entered into weapons training, learning how to make bombs and wield assault rifles. On July 27, 2002, Khadr is captured in Afghanistan by American soldiers at age 15, accused of fatally injuring a U.S. army medic with a hand grenade. Khadr himself is injured. He is held in Bagram Detention Centre and transferred to Guantanamo Bay in October. In Nov. 2005, he is formally charged by the U.S. military with conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy. These charges are thrown out in 2007 because he is labeled an “enemy combatant” and not an “unlawful enemy combatant.” 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. The trial was delayed and will return Oct. 18, 2010, more than eight years after Omar was captured. Key Terms child soldier – There is no set definition of a child soldier. 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. But, the UNCRC says soldiers fighting on the frontlines must be over the age of 15. Because Khadr was 15 when he was captured, there is some debate over whether or not he is a child soldier. Guantanamo Bay – a U.S. naval base and prison on the southeast coast of Cuba repatriate – to bring back or send back to one’s country of citizenship terrorism – the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce
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
Themes: terrorism, extremism, influence, anger, point of view, child soldiers, human rights and children’s rights Course Connections: Canadian and World Studies, English
Newspapers Computers and internet Paper Markers Chart paper
Specific Expectations and Learning Goals
Students will: Discuss terrorism. Learn about current events. Participate in active class discussions. Address terrorism and why it happens. Discuss human rights and children’s rights. Learn about child soldiers.
Knowledge and Understanding
1. Terrorism (estimated time: 15 minutes) a. Ask students to respond to the following questions in their journals: i. What is the most recent example of terrorism you have heard about? ii. What happened? Where? Describe the event in as much detail as you can. iii. Why did the group or person responsible commit this act of terrorism? What were its effects? Did they achieve their goals? iv. How do acts of terrorism differ from other acts of violence? 1
v. How does increased global communication and travel play a role in terrorist activities? b. After the students have had a chance to respond to these questions independently, bring the class back together and discuss their answers. c. When this is complete, create a class definition of terrorism.
1. Read the Global Voices Column independently (estimated time: 10 minutes) a. Reflection: i. Ask students to record point form notes in response to the article. ii. Ask students to record 5 questions on anything that they are unsure of from their initial reading of the article. iii. Make sure that students do 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: 30 minutes) a. Explain to students that media literacy emphasizes the skills of critical thinking about media messages – applying a process of inquiry to ask critical questions about what you watch, see, listen, and read. b. Ask students to begin by doing an OPVL analysis of the Global voices column (see below). Then students should go online to find articles on terrorism – students must select three different articles and do an OPVL media literacy analysis on the articles they find. 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: whose perspective is the column written from, does this cause limitations? c. When this is complete, bring the class back together and discuss student answers.
1. Influence (estimated time: 10 minutes) a. Write the word “influence” on the board and ask students if they can define this word. b. Explain to students that influence is the effect that a person or thing has on another and that influences can be positive or negative. c. Ask students who or what influences them and the decisions they make (i.e. parents, media, culture, religion, siblings, peers etc). List answers on the board. d. Ask: i. How has Omar Khadr been influenced by his father? ii. How has his life been affected by this influence? iii. Think back to the young boy that Craig met in Islamabad, do you think at that time he would have made all the choices he made later in life? Why or why not? iv. If Jean Chretien had cast a different decision that day and if the charges against Omar’s father hadn’t been dropped, do you think Omar’s life would have played out differently?
2. Child Soldiers (estimated time: 15 minutes) a. Omar Khadr was pushed into weapons training at the age of 10. Dive into the subject of child soldiers by beginning with a discussion on human rights. Ask your students: i. What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? 2
(Teacher Note: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. This document lists the essential rights for all human beings and sets the standard for how we should behave towards one another so that everyone’s dignity is respected.) ii. Why was this document created? iii. Can the rights in this document be applied to both adults and children? Is this fair? What are the differences between an adult and a child? b. Explain that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was written in 1989, after world leaders decided that childhood was unique and something that needed to be protected. Therefore, children under the age of 18 needed a special convention of their own. Ask: i. Why do children need rights of their own? ii. Why is it important that adults respect these rights? iii. What rights do you think are included in this convention? c. Move the discussion onto the topic of child soldiers, using the following suggested questions: i. What is a child soldier? (Teacher Note: A child soldier is anyone under the age of 18 who is part of any kind of armed force in any capacity. This includes: cooks, porters, messengers, children recruited for sexual purposes, and combat soldiers.) ii. Do children choose this path? iii. What are the moral issues of using children in armed conflict? iv. What are the reasons for using children in armed conflict? v. How does society suffer when children are used in armed conflict? vi. How does involvement in armed conflict affect children’s future? vii. What is the role of international documents and protocols in this situation? What do they say about the use of children in armed conflict?
1. Country Analysis (estimated time: continuous project) a. Divide students into groups of four. b. Ask each group to choose a country that they have heard to be affiliated with terrorist activities. c. Explain to the class that it is important to understand all sides of a situation. Therefore, they will analyze their country of choice in order to gain a better understanding. d. Before starting their research, ask each group to write a list of what they think of when they think of their country. Have a brief conversation about the stereotypes and generalizations that may be found in their lists. Ask students to consider where their perceptions came from. e. Ask students to address the following: i. Evaluate the government in power: What type of government is it? Do the government leaders support the terrorist factions (state-sponsored terrorism) or would they be supportive to coalition forces trying to eradicate the terrorist elements? ii. Evaluate the country's economy: How stable is the country's economy? On what products and industries does the economy depend? Who controls these industries? iii. Evaluate the country's borders: What countries does this country border? Are they friendly? iv. Traditions: what cultural traditions and viewpoints are important in this country? f. After the students have compiled their research, allow the groups to present their information to the class. g. When the presentations are complete, ask: i. Where you able to gain a better understanding of these countries? 3
ii. Did you find anything interesting? iii. Did any of your viewpoints change?
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: The United Nations - http://www.un.org/ UN Action to Counter Terrorism - http://www.un.org/terrorism/ Child solider has no place at Gitmo, by Craig and Marc Kielburger, July 25, 2008 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-and-marc-kielburger/child-soldier-has-noplac_b_114936.html Amnesty International’s Campaign to repatriate Omar Khadr http://www.amnesty.ca/take_action/actions/canada_bring_khadr_justice.php Summary of Information, websites, timelines from the University of Toronto http://www.law.utoronto.ca/faculty_content.asp?itemPath=1/3/4/0/0&contentId=1617 Book: Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story, by Michelle Shephard Article: The Unending Torture of Omar Khadr, by Jeff Tietz, Rolling Stone magazine, August 2007 A biography of Omar’s early life growing up in the Khadr family http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2006/Khadr-Torture-Guantanamo24aug06.htm
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