Protests were held in Calgary and other cities around the world on Sunday demanding action against the Taliban.
Demonstrators claim that Hazara people have been victims of genocidal action since the Taliban assumed control in 2021 and has become worse this month with the alleged abduction of women and girls.
As a female journalist in Afghanistan, Sarah Turgaan says her decision to leave her country when the Taliban took over in 2021 was a matter of life and death.
She’s in Calgary now but her parents and sister – who are all doctors – are still there. Turgaan says her sister was forced by the Taliban to leave her home in Kabul and wear a burka or face death.
“The Taliban said to her if you don’t go back to work in the rural area where there are no doctors, we will kill you guys. We have your address your location,” Turgaan said at a rally at the Sunalta Community Association on Sunday.
Members of Calgary’s Hazara community gathered to draw attention to what is happening in Afghanistan now.
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The predominantly Shia community has faced decades of persecution by the hardline Taliban.
They say the historical policy of forced migration and land seizure that was initially implemented back in 1887, has been reinstated under the Taliban regime.
Barat Binish came to Calgary from Afghanistan in 2001. He is now an intern architect after having graduated from the University of Calgary.
He says current refugees are talking about the inhumane treatment Hazara women and girls are allegedly facing, with extensive kidnappings because they aren’t wearing veils.
Binish said his two brothers and sister-in-law were imprisoned for six months by the Taliban. He says Hazara people are in constant danger.
“They are vulnerable when the Taliban comes and checks them. Some are taken into custody or they kill them. The situation is very bad,” Binish said.
Global protesters have appealed to international bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, world leaders, and human rights organizations, urging them to condemn the abduction and detention of Hazara women and girls.
For Canadians who spent years in Afghanistan helping promote education, they are calling the current situation is heartbreaking.
“I’m sad. I love those people dearly,” said Bernie Potvin who is an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary and was attending the rally on Sunday.
Potvin worked on a project collaborating with the Afghan Ministry of Education and with Tim Goddard who was overseeing the project. His daughter Capt. Nichola Goddard was killed while serving in Afghanistan.
Tim Goddard served as Project Director for the Global Affairs Canada-funded Teacher Certification and Accreditation of Teacher Training Institutions in Afghanistan initiative, a five-year project which started in October 2011.
Potvin says it seems the Hazara people have been forgotten.
“What they’ve suffered going back to the 1800s – it began there with what essentially was a genocide and it’s never stopped and now it’s free reign for the Taliban to do what they want with these people,” Potvin said. “It’s inhumane and wrong,”
Last week Human Rights Watch said the Taliban have intensified their crackdown on human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls
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