New: see the official Masterpeace 2010 Slideshow here
Your life is in my hands, 2010, paper, film
Part of ARTillery 2010′s Masterpeace exhibition, which paired a number of artists with an “at risk” individual, prompting an honest and at times difficult discussion of justice and human rights:
Is it an artist’s purpose to present an objective position on a subjective issue? Your life is in my hands instead accepts (even embraces) the confusing and conflicting nature of the story of Omar Khadr’s life.
It is all too easy to blame a caricatured evil, uncaring government, powerful and abusive interrogators, or a group of people willing to involve a 15 year old boy in armed conflict – aiming to kill those whose only major crime is difference. The piece challenges the viewer to consider instead the many questions riased by such a case. Who wields the power in this conflict? What punishment is deserved by those who take another’s life? are the laws of war flawed? Is justice delayed, justice denied? And most of all – does any of this even apply to a child in a war zone?
Your life is in my hands reforms and develops existing media to blend the public and private spheres of Khadr’s life, producing a new media (empty and bland or fresh and hopeful?) while quietly communicating a sense of discomfort.
“The increased availability of information about what happens in our society is not reflected by a public capacity to reflect upon and make sense of it”.
Omar Khadr was born in Toronto September 19, 1986, a Canadian citizen who often moved between Canada and Pakistan. In early 2002 Khadr’s father (later praised by Al-Qaeda for “tossing his little child into the furnace of the battle”) allowed him to move out from his family home, and accompany a group of Arabs who needed a translator during their stay in Khost, Afghanistan. The group of men associated with Al-Qaeda trained Khadr in the use of weapons and he visited his family less and less. In the early morning of July 27, 2002 a firefight broke out between U.S. soldiers and the group of militants Khadr was accompanying. While the operation was hailed by the U.S. as a major success, five soldiers were injured – and Sergeant Christopher Speer was killed. 15 year old Khadr was found alive among the bodies and rubble, severely injured and partially blinded. After being held in a base at Bagram, Khadr became the youngest inmate to be held at Guantanamo Bay, where he was allegedly deprived of sleep and clean clothes, spat at, assaulted, kept in solitary confinement, denied medical treatment, short shackled and left in “stress positions” until he soiled himself, and dragged back and forth through a mixture of pine oil and his own urine. In 2003, Khadr was told “Your life is in my hands” by a military interrogator, who spat on him, tore out his hair and threatened to send him to a country where he would be raped and more thoroughly tortured.
In 2005 Khadr was formally charged by a military commission with Murder by an Unprivileged Belligerent, Attempted Murder by an Unprivileged Belligerent, Aiding the Enemy and Conspiracy with members of Al-Qaeda. The commissions were later struck down for being unconstitutional.
In 2007 a tribunal decided Khadr would be tried as an “enemy combatant”. Also in 2007, Khadr had his first phone call to his mother since being captured.
After the Military Commissions Act of 2006, new charges were sworn against Khadr in 2007, and he his status as “enemy combatant”; was confirmed. He was charged with Murder in Violation of the Law of War, Attempted Murder in Violation of the Law of War, Conspiracy, Providing Material Support for Terrorisym and Spying.
In 2010, Khadr plead guilty.
“I never had a choice in my past life, but I will build my future with the right bricks”