Local Afghan group to hold rally on Saturday to show support, concern for loved ones in Afghanistan

Members of Cleveland’s Afghan community will hold a march tomorrow, Saturday, August 21 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to call attention to the current crisis in Afghanistan. The march will start at Masjid Mohammad Rasool Allah, 9400 Detroit Avenue, stop at U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s office on Superior Avenue, then continue to City Hall downtown. 

The rally’s organizer, an elder in the Afghan community and 18-year resident of Cleveland, says the march will highlight the challenges facing Afghan people and potential solutions. (the organizer, like all Afghans quoted in this release, is withholding his name because he fears reprisals against family members still in Afghanistan).

“Now is not the time for fighting,” the elder said in a statement. “Now is the time to talk with one another and to share opinions about how to help.”

The group’s chief concern is the safety of family members living in Afghanistan. Many in Cleveland’s Afghan community are former translators and contractors for the United States military and were resettled to the United States under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. Since 2012, approximately 185 individuals have moved to Cleveland under this program. 

“The Taliban knows who worked with Americans, and who has relatives living in the United States,” the organizer said. “Many of our family members are in hiding and scared to leave their houses. Kabul is like a cemetery. We are calling on the United States government to ensure that our families can make it safely to the airport and come to the United States.”

The protest’s organizer says they will also call on the UN to pressure the Taliban to respect human rights.

“We want a government that is a government for all people,” the elder said. “We want them to respect the rights of women and ensure that all women and children can go to school and college.”

The group plans to write a letter to Congress and to the United Nations with input from rally participants. 

“Afghanistan is our motherland. In the Dari language, we say it’s our ‘vetan,’” the protest organizer said. “Who can stand by as their mother is attacked? Who can bear to see their family members hurt?”