Kitchener rally highlights those being left behind in Afghanistan

For the past 11 days, Khatera Sadry has been unable to sleep or eat. She wakes up in the middle of the night and when she tries to eat, the food sticks in her throat.

The reason, she says, is because she choked on the guilt of the survivors.

Sadry, an educator on the District School Board of the Waterloo area, was living in Afghanistan in 1996 when the Taliban first arrived.

Since the Taliban took power eleven days ago, it has been difficult to accept that this is a reality again in Afghanistan after 20 years of struggle.

“The guilt kills me that there are families, women and children, who have not eaten for weeks; they sleep on the street because of our enemies, ”she said. “I saw that in 1996 and it only breaks me because I know it is repeating itself.”

Sadry and Fatima Ghafoori, an administrative assistant with the Aga Khan Foundation, held a rally in Kitchener today to show their support for Afghanistan.

“We need to raise our voices … speak for those who cannot speak,” said Ghafoori. “And for those who can’t be heard right now, we have to speak out loud so people can hear.”

The voiceless people she is referring to are not the journalists and interpreters who have worked with Canada and the US and are being evacuated, but those who they fear will be left behind.

“What about the people who didn’t work as journalists, who didn’t work as politicians. What about the people who are just normal people who now have to live under the control of the Taliban, ”she said. “We have to open our borders, we have to open our refugee program to let people in.”

“Those who cannot come are poor, have no titles and no network. Today at this rally we are your voice to let you know that there is hope, ”added Sadry.

Ghafoori said that while many Afghans live in Canada, have families in Afghanistan and would like to get them out of the way, they do not fall under government guidelines – something she has firsthand experience of.

“My aunt taught little girls in her town, and now the Taliban are looking for her because she added women’s rights to her classes,” said Ghafoori. “But unfortunately it doesn’t fall under the immigration category, so we can’t sponsor it.”

So much of the force behind the rally is to urge parishioners to encourage MPs to put pressure on parliament to open the borders further.

“Because in times of need we have to help because I want to believe that if Afghanistan were a prosperous First World nation, Afghanistan would take us in, and God forbid we were a developing Third World country.” She said.

She also hopes to be able to make it clear that Afghanistan did not want the Taliban to take power.

“Children die and it’s hard to watch from here. But when we see heads of state standing on the stage saying that for some reason the Afghans didn’t fight, it breaks our hearts to the point where it’s hard to get up, ”said Ghafoori. “Afghan soldiers fought with American and Canadian soldiers for 20 years, do you think they wanted the Taliban to intervene? Nobody wanted that. “

And while some people are less than excited about the number of refugees Canada has already taken in rather than dealing with Canada’s own problems, Sadry says they don’t compare to a war.

“We will always have problems, problems have no end, where there is politics, there are always problems. If you’ve never been to a war, you wouldn’t know what this feels like. In Canada we are very privileged; When our coffee is cold, we complain, ”she said.

Ghafoori agreed, saying that because of their involvement in the war, Canada and the US have a moral obligation to help refugees.

“If they really wanted to, they could stop the Taliban completely, but they didn’t. So if you want to hand our country over to the terrorists, then you should be ready to take in refugees who do not want to live under the reign of terror, ”she said.

In terms of how people can help, Ghafoori suggested donating to well-known humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan.

“There are many internally displaced people in Afghanistan who are literally sleeping on the side of the road because of the fighting, and unfortunately the weakest here who need the most support are children and women, because now they are” because of the Taliban they cannot do anything in society ” , she said.

For those who do not donate money but want to help, MPs can encourage their MPs to put pressure on Parliament to open the borders and recognize the Taliban as a terrorist rather than an illegitimate government.

They believe that standing up for the Afghan people is crucial right now as Sadry says the worst is yet to come.

“They know the eyes of the whole nation are on them. So they would do anything to make sure they stay in Afghanistan. The minute the eyes are off, within a week or so, the slaughter and killing of women will begin. “

But she adds, “We will do whatever has to be done, we will do our best to make sure there is hope.”

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