Former Afghan interpreters stage hunger strike on Parliament Hill
OTTAWA -- Dozens of former Afghan interpreters went on a hunger strike on Parliament Hill Wednesday, calling on the Canadian government to take swifter action to resettle their families in Canada.
“We have the priority because we worked with the Canadian Forces,” said Ahmad Syed, one of the organizers of the hunger strike.
The urgent calls come after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the departure of U.S. troops last month.
“My mom is there my sister is there and my four brothers,” said Syed. “They’re hiding and I’m just an example of everybody.”
Many who helped the Canadian forces say they fear for the lives of their loved ones.
“I applied for my family: my sibling, my sister, my brother, and my mom and dad,” said former interpreter Hamayoon Wafa.
He applied for his family to resettle in Canada when the government announced in July that special immigration measures to evacuate Afghans would include intepreters and their families.
“It’s been like three months,” said Wafa, who now lives in Smiths Falls.
He’s not the only one waiting to hear from the government.
Vesal Naser came from Vancouver to join the hunger strike, with hopes the demonstration will get the government’s attention.
“I called the immigration minister’s office, everyone answering the phone they’re saying wait,” HE SAID. “My family is not here. I lost three siblings already. I don’t want to lose more.”
Late Wednesday the group says they were contacted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, saying they will work closely to begin the process of resettling loved ones.
“I know Canada can do it to bring our family,” said Wafa. “That’s all we want.”