Canadians are rallying across the country to show their support for those left behind in Afghanistan, days after the federal government announced it would be putting an end to its airborne evacuation mission.
Many protests, including those in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal were already underway on Saturday as part of an international day of demonstration aimed at raising awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
In Toronto, protesters began gathering at Toronto City Hall at 3 p.m. ET. Organizers have relayed their demands in various social media posts asking the federal government to hold the Taliban accountable for what they say constitutes as “war crimes” and “genocide.”
A Montrealer named Kazim Hizbullah has also helped organize a protest that brought Canadians from Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto to Parliament Hill at 2 p.m. ET.
Another in Montreal began at 12 p.m. ET in Dorchester Square. The organizers, who belong to a community group called StopKillingAfghans, have said they are gathering in peaceful protest to raise awareness.
“We must use our privilege to fight for those betrayed by the Afghan government, the US and regional countries,” an Instagram post advertising the protest read. “The afghan people deserve peace and our support!”
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Winnipegger Bashir Faqiri has organized a Save Afghanistan Rally outside the Manitoba Legislature Building that started at 2 p.m. ET.
Faqiri, who still has family in Afghanistan, said they have tried to escape “four or five times now,” but have been stopped by the Taliban.
“They want to get out. They want to do whatever they can to get back to the city,” he said.
“Especially with the evacuation being halted, it’s a scary thought.”
Faqiri said he hopes to raise awareness about the Taliban during his protest.
“(I’m) trying to tell people what’s going on, stories about the Taliban because the propaganda going on right now, that the Taliban are changing, that they’re good people, it’s completely not true,” he told Global News. “I want to explain that.”
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Meanwhile, several online posts outlining the international day of demonstrations to support Afghans showed another protest in Calgary outside the Municipal Complex Plaza at 3 p.m., and one more in British Columbia, outside the Vancouver Art Gallery at 2 p.m.
Canada officially ended its evacuation efforts in Afghanistan on Thursday, despite promises from Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau that the federal government would evacuate at-risk Afghans and residents who had helped Canada’s military intervention.
Explosions rocked Kabul’s international airport that same day in a suicide attack that killed 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.
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Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre of the Department of National Defence told reporters Canada’s military had evacuated roughly 3,700 people from Afghanistan before ending its airborne missions.
Canada had ramped up its efforts to evacuate Afghans from Kabul on Aug. 15 following a Taliban takeover of the city over the course of a week.
The Taliban has promised “amnesty” to anyone who had helped Canada or the U.S. in the two-decade war — mainly interpreters — and vowed to allow women to go back to work. But already, reports have surfaced of the Taliban going door-to-door to hunt down residents viewed as traitors and barring working women from official positions.
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