Two directors from Canada made a documentary on the interrogation of the youngest detainee in Guantanamo Omar Khadr and exposed the violation of his rights by the intelligence officer who questioned him.
“You Don't Like the Truth: 4 days inside Guantánamo,” co-directed by the Quebec-based Luc Côté and Patricio Henriquez, premiered at Montreal's Festival du Nouveau Cinema (Montreal New Cinema Festival) on October 14 and is scheduled to screened in several Canadian movie theatres starting October 29.
The documentary depicts the 2003 interrogation of the 24-year-old Toronto-born Muslim Omar Khadr by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), one year after he was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and accused of war crimes, collaboration with Afghan terrorists, and killing an American soldier.
Côté and Henriquez were the only media professionals to watch the seven-hour tape of Khadr’s interrogation, which lasted for four days, in 2008 right before the Supreme Court of Canada issued orders restricting access to the video to parties involved in the case.
The two directors made a full transcript of the interrogation and watched the tape hundreds of times. It took them two whole years to make a thorough analysis of its scenes and come out with the 100-minute documentary.
“You Don't Like the Truth” embeds footage of the interrogation with commentaries by Khadr’s lawyers, a psychiatrist specialized in torture victims, a UN High Commission on Human Rights Official, and former director general of Canadian Consular Affairs.
The film reveals that at the beginning Khadr was not aware of the identity of the CSIS agent who was interrogating him and thought that he was a Canadian diplomat who came to help him.
The scene that depicts Khadr’s reaction on knowing the truth is considered one of the film’s most moving parts. Khadr breaks down, cries for his mother’s help, then lifts his shirt up to reveal the wounds he sustained, saying that he is afraid to be tortured again.
Despite the fact that many of the film’s scenes are emotionally-charged, what is seen as most shocking is the attitude of the CSIS agent and which was described as “amateurish.”
After Khadr calms down, the agent is seen trying at first to befriend Khadr by saying that his mother and sisters are in danger and that he must help him to find them. When Khadr does not believe him and pleads for protection from the United States, the agent ridicules him saying he has to stop "whining and denying what happened," and "to take ownership and responsibility of what happened."
The agent also deals with Khadr’s wounds very lightly and says "I'm no doctor, but I think you are getting good medical care."
It's a bit scary. The agent's sarcasm and teasing are unbelievable
Film co-director Luc Côté
“It's a bit scary. The agent's sarcasm and teasing are unbelievable,” Luc Côté told CBC News. “He is supposed to be a senior agent who knows a great deal about Khadr's family. But he doesn't even seem to know how to conduct an interview."
Côté added that the agent’s behavior makes him look like he thinks giving Omar Khadr a Subway sandwich will make him talk.
“He comes off as being a bit ridiculous."
According to co-director Patricio Henriquez, the film aims to show the violations committed by the Canadian government when arresting Omar Khadr when he was 15 years old.
“According to the international convention Canada has signed, he is a child soldier and needs to be protected. Canada isn't respecting our signature of that convention," he told CBC.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled earlier this year that the way the CSIS agent conducted the interrogation violated Khadr’s rights. However, the same court overturned rulings by lower courts to repatriate Khadr from the Guantanamo.
Last week, Khadr’s lawyers told the press that Khadr could be brought back to Canada as part of a deal with the United States. Yet, details of the deal were not revealed.
This deal, observers argue, would be beneficial for the United States since it will spare the current Administration the scalding criticism of trying a child for war crimes, especially in the light of Obama’s pre-election ledge to close down Guantanamo altogether.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).
According to the international convention Canada has signed, he is a child soldier and needs to be protected
Film co-director Patricio Henriquez