A rally outside Saskatoon City Hall on Saturday draws attention to violence in Afghanistan

More than 100 people gathered outside Saskatoon City Hall late Saturday afternoon to call for action to stop what they called the genocide of the Hazara ethnic group in Afghanistan.

« I have family in Afghanistan [and] I think they are not safe, » said Anwar Asayee, one of the organizers.

« We want to be the voice of the Hazara people around the world. »

These voices in Saskatoon joined others in Canada following a suicide bombing at a Shiite educational center in a Hazara neighborhood in Kabul on September 30.

Asayee said the Saskatoon rally, organized by the Afghan community, joins the call of others across Canada who want the United Nations to recognize the killing of the Hazara people as genocide.

The Hazara people are a minority ethnic group in Afghanistan, mostly Shia Muslims, who have been targeted in the region.

The bombardment killed or injured dozens of people.

« One of my former students was killed and one of my friend’s daughters was killed in this incident, » Asayee said.

Asayee said through an interpreter that the gathering was meant to be the voice of Hazara Afghans who have been persecuted since the 1800s.

Some of the placards held by protesters denounced the violence against the Hazara people in Afghanistan as genocide, calling for justice for these people and demanding action to help them. (Radio-Canada)

Nila Ibrahimi, a participant, said she was shocked and angry when she first heard about the suicide attacks.

« It’s not the first, it’s a continuous series of explosions happening in Afghanistan, just for the Hazaras, » she said.

« My brother was once in one of those outbursts and I know how bad it is, » she said.

Ibrahimi said participating in the rally was his way of supporting his country while in Canada, including supporting his friends and family back home.

« I felt helpless because I’m continents away from my country and I can’t do anything for them, » she said. « I fear for their safety as I don’t know when the next explosion will occur. »

Asayee said he appreciated the range of people who came to the rally and the presence of local government officials like Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark.

« I’m learning how people here who come from other countries, especially from a country that’s dealing with conflict like Afghanistan, people’s hearts are always there, always in their homeland. « Clark said.

« We care and are concerned about the people who have been left behind, the people who have not been able to come here…I want to make sure they have a strong sense of belonging. »

Clark said everyone should be concerned about the violence faced by people who, in the case of the bombing, were students trying to get an education.


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