CALGARY — Around 200 Calgarians rallied outside city hall Thursday afternoon and into the evening in protest of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, as the country marked its Independence Day.
Many wore shirts with the Afghanistan flag, others draped a flag over their shoulders and many had signs as a show of solidarity for the thousands of people in Afghanistan trying to flee the country.
“I’m here today because of my brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. Our country is bleeding and they are suffering,” says Abida Safi.
Many people at the rally are originally from Afghanistan or still have family living in the country. They fear for their loved ones, many of whom are hiding from the Taliban.
“My uncles has four daughters that are inside the basements and it’s not heated and not like developed basements in Canada and other western countries, So they are in basements and everywhere they can hide so the Taliban don’t go door to door and take their daughters,” said the rally organizer, Husna Alibq.
Those at Thursday’s rally said there is an urgency for Canada to do more to support more refugees and speed up the process of bringing their loved ones to Canada.
Alibq is also calling on all Calgarians to support their efforts, saying an injustice in Afghanistan or anywhere in the world is an injustice for everyone.
“When people are holding on to the (most) minuscule (shred) of hope, holding on to tires of aircrafts to just flee, to get to a free place, to have freedom to have some place where they aren’t under prosecution and under the Taliban’s fear,” Alibq said. “You can make a difference now!”
Canadian Armed Forces are now on the ground in Kabul and are working with the U.S. and other allies to get Canadians and Afghans out of the country.
The Prime Minister has also vowed to bring 20, 000 refugees to Canada. It’s unclear how many people will land in Alberta but Immigrant Services Calgary says they are preparing for upwards of 2,000 refugees in the city.
“We’ll be at the airport to make sure none of the newcomers falls through the cracks,” said Immigrant Services Calgary CEO Hyderabad Hassan.
Hassan said there are many ways for people to help including volunteering or making monetary donations.
He added that it’s important to recognize the important role and contributions refugees and all newcomers make in Canada.
“The refugees of today may look a little different from the World War I and World War II era and all the crises we’ve taken leadership on but in fact 51 per cent of the professions we wouldn’t have without the refugee program,” he said.
There is another rally for Afghanistan planned for August 28 at city hall.