Sask. Afghan citizens to host rally showing support for their peers

·3 min read
As people flee Afghanistan, one Regina resident hopes to raise awareness about who the Taliban are and show support for her family and friends in the country through a rally and march scheduled for Sunday in Regina. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/Handout/Reuters - image credit)
As people flee Afghanistan, one Regina resident hopes to raise awareness about who the Taliban are and show support for her family and friends in the country through a rally and march scheduled for Sunday in Regina. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/Handout/Reuters - image credit)

Afghan residents who've come to Saskatchewan want to see the federal government do more to support their people back home.

Zorah Zahir grew up in Afghanistan and is now a graduate student at the University of Regina.

On Sunday she's hosting a rally and a walk between Regina's city hall and the Saskatchewan Legislative building.

The event is being hosted in partnership with the Afghan Association of Regina, to show support for people who are in Afghanistan and let them know they are not alone.

Zahir said she also wants to raise awareness about who the Taliban are and the threat they pose to Afghanistan.

The Taliban, a designated terrorist group in Canada, asserted control over Afghanistan in recent weeks, nearly 20 years after it was ousted in a U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks.

Zahir's mother, father and five siblings are still back in Afghanistan, which recently saw emergency evacuation efforts as the United States withdrew from the country and it fell under Taliban rule.

"They are scared. My father is in hiding," Zahir told CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition on Friday.

"They are just saying that the whole city of Farah, Afghanistan, where they are, is just dead, is like a ghost city, no one is out. Whenever they go out, they're just fearing for their life."

She wasn't able to say why her father was in hiding, for fear of revealing his identity, but said he was afraid for his life and that was a great point of stress for her family.

She said there are frequent power outages in the city, so she's not in constant communication with her family.

Being in a safe country, with lots of support, Zahir said she felt guilty knowing her family was in a "nightmare" situation in Afghanistan.

"I really don't think I can go back to my normal life, just because I'm not there with them, to just feel what they're going through," Zahir said.

Stress and concern about her family aside, she said she's also worried about the progress that's been made back home over the last 20 years, particularly for women.

Zahir said more and more female athletes, poets, journalists, lecturers and writers emerged over the last two decades and they fought hard to earn their success in Afghanistan.

Now, under Taliban rule, she's worried women's voices and freedoms will be restricted.

"I don't think we can get back soon, all of those things that we had," Zahir said.

Troops from the United States had started their withdrawal from the Kabul airport, the Pentagon said Saturday morning. The airport was sealed off by the Taliban and emergency airlift operations conducted by NATO nations had concluded.

It's unclear how many Canadians and people who applied to come to Canada remain stranded.

Officials briefing reporters Thursday morning and said they received applications representing 8,000 people and that two-thirds of those applications have been processed. Earlier Saturday CBC News reported some 3,700 people were part of emergency evacuation efforts.

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