September 27, 2021

Dozens gather in Mississauga in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan

Dozens of people gathered in Mississauga on Sunday in protest over recent developments in Afghanistan and to stand in solidarity with the Afghan people.

Maihan Sarwary said the protest was organized by the Afghan Youth Movement of Canada.

“A lot of people have been misplaced because of the ongoing conflict, Afghans [are] being ravaged by the Taliban across all 34 provinces, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have been misplaced,” Sarwary told CBC Toronto.

“We are here to be their voice.”

On Sunday, the Taliban swept into Kabul — Afghanistan’s capital — after the government collapsed and the embattled president joined an exodus of his fellow citizens and foreigners.

Heavily armed Taliban fighters fanned out across the capital, and a group of fighters entered the presidential palace in Kabul.

Maihan Sarwary says, ‘A lot of people have been misplaced because of the ongoing conflict’ in Afghanistan. (CBC)

Sarwary said a lot of people at the protest have families who “are under attack” in Afghanistan.

“Their families are running away to borders, [at] every embassy in Afghanistan thousands of people are behind doors. They are trying to get their families out, they are trying to somehow make a way.”

Khatera Ahadi is among those with family members in Afghanistan.

She said she has received several calls from family members begging her to help them get out of Afghanistan.

“It’s actually impossible, the Taliban have taken over completely,” Ahadi told CBC News.

“It’s not just a protest to me, this is fighting for my country. They’ve taken our flags down … they’re trying to erase who we actually are as people and it breaks my heart to know that so many times we have to bring up this issue to people.”

Khatera Ahadi says family members have contacted her asking for help to leave Afghanistan. (CBC)

Aurel Braun, professor of international relations and political science at the University of Toronto, compared what’s happening in Afghanistan to a natural mass catastrophe.

“We have now moved from the stage where you are trying to rescue people to the stage where you are recovering bodies,” Braun told CBC Toronto on Sunday. 

“That is, the Afghan government is basically done. It looks hopeless.”

Braun said the best Canada and other countries can do at this point is try to save as many Afghan people as possible.

Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (Zabi Karimi/The Associated Press)

He listed interpreters who have worked with Western forces, dissidents who may want to get out and secular leaders who would be tortured and possibly killed by the Taliban. 

“We need to buy a little bit of time … it is a horrific situation, this is a great tragedy to the Afghan people,” Braun said.

According to Braun, the Afghan people have shown repeatedly that they do not want the Taliban. He said they had a corrupt government and were often misled.

“The strategy was poor and the Americans and the West did not have the patience to be there, and we also allowed Pakistan to play an extremely nefarious role in subverting various Afghan governments,” Braun said.

‘We can do more’

The federal government announced Friday that it intends to take in as many as 20,000 additional refugees from the war-torn country as the Taliban was closing in on the capital Kabul.

The federal program focuses on those who have fled the country or are in the process of fleeing it. It will include families of interpreters who have already immigrated, women leaders, minority groups targeted by the Taliban and journalists.

But Braun wants to see Canada do even more.

“We are a relatively small player but we can do more, we ought to do more more,” he said.

“This is a large moral question and any notion that the Taliban will moderate, that somehow we can have a compromise, is wishful thinking. So we need to get as many people, as many categories out.”

Braun also said “we need to contain the Taliban,” adding that “what is going to happen in Afghanistan is likely to spill out beyond the borders and they may present a danger to the rest of the world as well.”

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