Hundreds of people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery Saturday to support the people of Afghanistan and urge the Canadian government to do more for those left behind after the Taliban seized power.
The Vancouver event was held in tandem with similar rallies across the country, including Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.
Demonstrators say they want the international community to increase pressure on the Taliban to adhere to human rights, and to step up efforts to get people safely out of the country.
“All lives in Afghanistan are in danger right now,” organizer Ahmadwaly Yasin told Global News.
Since the collapse of Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban’s consolidation of power, Afghans in British Columbia have been sharing their fears of bloody retribution.
Many say they do not believe the Taliban has changed or will adhere to promises not to exact revenge on people who worked with the international coalition during the war.
The fate of women and girls, whose rights were severely curtailed under the last Taliban government and who were forced into marriages at young ages, is of particular concern.
Zarifa Joya, an Afghan-Canadian who said most of her relatives remain in Afghanistan, told Global News she’s worried sick.
“It’s been like 20 days, we can’t eat, we can’t sleep. There’s no taste to my food. When my kid comes home, he’s crying, I’m crying,” she said.
Another rally attendee, who asked for anonymity out of fear of putting family in Afghanistan at risk, shared a similar message.
“If the Taliban find out that a part of my family is translator with U.S. army, for sure they going to come and find my other brothers and other family and they’re not going to leave them alive,” he said.
Canada officially ended its evacuation efforts from Afghanistan on Thursday.
Canada pledged to take in 20,000 at-risk Afghans who had helped Canada during its military intervention, but officials said only 3,700 were transported out before airlifts stopped.