Who is Roméo Dallaire?
If you are a believer in such a thing as Canadian values than Roméo Dallaire represents them.
“Lieutenant-General Roméo Alain Dallaire , is a French Canadian senator, humanitarian, author and retired general. Dallaire is widely known for having served as Force Commander of UNAMIR, the ill-fated United Nations peacekeeping force for Rwanda between 1993 and 1994, and for trying to stop the genocide that was being waged by Hutu extremists against Tutsis and Hutu moderates.”
There are very few people who have been in such a position as Dallaire, let alone had the will and integrity to rise to the occasion – irrelevant of the consequences or the outcome.
In recognition of his efforts and his selfless concern for the welfare of others and trying to preserve human life, Dallaire became the recipient of the inaugural Aegis Trust Award for Genocide Prevention. He has also been honored and recognized with numerous international awards including “an Officer of the Legion of Merit of the United States, the highest military decoration available for award to foreigners,” as well as being “inducted as an Officer in the Order of Canada.”
He is the most respected Canadian alive today and will most likely retain this title for many years to come.
What were Dallaire remarks?
On May 13, amidst the 2008 US election news and the coverage of the Sichuan earthquake and the Burma aid quagmire, The Globe and Mail reported that Dallaire, at a parliamentary subcommittee meeting, stated that the United States and Canada are terrorist organization and must begin to abide by international and Human Right treaties or else be considered rogue states:
“The minute you start playing with human rights, with conventions, with civil liberties, in order to say that you're doing it to protect yourself and you are going against those rights and conventions, you are no better than the guy who doesn't believe in them at all”
When asked if “Canada's failure to act to protect Mr. Khadr was equivalent to recent al-Qaeda atrocities in Iraq,” he replied:
“If you want a black and white, and I'm only too prepared to give it to you, Absolutely… You're either with the law or not with the law. You're either guilty or you're not.”
Who is this Mr. Khadr that Roméo Dallaire speaks of?
Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen, born 19 September 1986 in Ottawa Canada. He “has been detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps since he was captured at the age of 15 following a 2002 firefight between American troops and militants in Afghanistan.”
To sum up the story so far: when the US military entered the village where Khadr was living, they blew everything to pieces and like madmen shot at anything that moved. Khadr, 15 years old at the time, was caught in the firefight, and while on his knees, shot twice in the back. At some point before this, US Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer was killed by what may have been friendly fire. The United States lied about its evidence against Khadr, he was charged as an enemy combatant responsible for the death of Sgt. Speer, and sent to Guantanamo Bay where he has spent the last 6 years of his life being tortured.
In the summer of 2007 all charges were dropped against Khadr but he was not released. Then in March 2008 it was revealed that US military command had altered the report on the firefight in Afghanistan to cast blame on Khadr - originally the reported had stated “the assailant who threw the grenade was killed.” Then we learned that the Canadian government was refusing to hand over evidence to the defense, in violation of court orders.
The above explains why Dallaire “told MPs that Mr. Khadr is a victim, a child soldier who should be rehabilitated and re-integrated into society and not tried before what he calls an illegal court.” He believes that “the Khadr case points out a moral equivalence among Canada, the United States and al-Qaeda.”
How important are Dallaire’s statements?
Roméo Dallaire is regarded with such admiration and affection in Canada that if he were to run in the next elections, very few would argue that he would not be elected Prime Minister.
His statements indicate that there are high profile Canadians in government that are making a stand against the official policy of the Conservative government of Canada, lead by neoconservative Stephen Harper, much in the same way as those who are making a stand in the United States against the neocons.
Even though the mainstream media has barely dealt with the implication of this event, many Canadians are beginning to pay attention, since what is happening to Khadr affects every single Canadian, living in Canada and abroad.
Senator Roméo A. Dallaire can be contacted through The Senate of Canada.