Afghans in Victoria fear for family back home as Taliban gains more ground in Afghanistan

Afghans in Victoria fear for family back home as Taliban gains more ground in Afghanistan
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The fight for power in Afghanistan continues.

Within days, the Taliban claims to have seized control of 12 cities in the country, including Kandahar and Herat, the country’s second- and third-largest cities after Kabul — this just weeks before the U.S. is set to completely withdraw from the country.

Members of the local Afghan community said it’s heartbreaking to watch the news unfold back home and that more needs to be done to stop the Taliban’s attempt at a return to power.

“It’s terrifying knowing that 20 years later, we’re back to the same thing. History is repeating itself,” said Nargis Kiewiet, an Afghan-Canadian Victoria resident.

“Watching my family, my friends, my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, they all live back home. And watching them go through the same war, endure the same war all over again … it’s heartbreaking. And at the same time, you have the survivor’s guilt. Like, why did I survive? What did I do to deserve this life?” she added.

Her family in Afghanistan is actively fleeing and hiding from the Taliban, fearing for their safety and life.

“Every morning, I wake up, I look at my phone terrified if I’m going to have some bad news,” said Kiewiet.

Despite escaping the Taliban regime decades ago, she and her friend say they’re still left traumatized.

“We do feel a sense of guilt in being here and having the privilege that we have and all the trauma that we sustained and the tragedies that we witnessed 20 years ago,” said Morsal Niazi, another Afghan-Canadian living in Victoria.

Others in the Afghan diaspora, including Abdul Rahim Ahmad Parwani, are calling on international intervention.

“We really expect more from governments to not leave alone Afghan people in this very critical and very serious situation that has been brought by the Taliban and their neighbouring country supporters to the Afghan people. I think it’s an ethical obligation [for] countries and the international community to be with Afghan people,” he said.

Parwani is an online library content manager for Darakht-e Danesh, an e-Library that provides educational resources in Afghan languages.

He fears all the progress the country’s made over the years, including its education system, will be lost if the Taliban aren’t stopped.

“In one night, we are losing everything. We are going back to the dark ages,” he said. “It’s really hard [for] not only me, but all Afghans around the world.”

Lauryn Oates of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan agrees, saying the international community isn’t recognizing how serious of an issue it is.

“My fear is that the political will is not there. We’re so quick to say ‘we can’t.’ We’re so quick to say, ‘those people are so different from us.’ And we don’t see ourselves in them. And so, what I want to say is that they’re the same as us,” she said.

“They have the same hopes and dreams and they have just as much weight as our own hopes and dreams. And so, we should do everything in our power to intervene and to put pressure on those who can take action to take action,” she continued.

Oates also said the Taliban must be held accountable for the human rights abuses the group commits and urges international sanctions to be imposed on the Taliban.

“The other thing that’s really important is to look at the role of Pakistan in the conflict and its backhanded support,” she said.

Protests are being organized across Canada calling on the end to the war and violence in Afghanistan, including one in Vancouver this Saturday.

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Tahmina AzizTahmina Aziz

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