After the fall of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul more than a year ago, the families of some Canadian citizens who assisted Canadian military forces are still being hunted by the Taliban government in that country.
Some 45 language and cultural advisers — Canadian citizens who were recent Afghan immigrants — were recruited by Canada’s Department of National Defence to carry out dangerous assignments like gathering intelligence on the Taliban and warning of attacks during the war in Afghanistan.
Now, a year after some of these advisers asked Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to help their family members get out of Afghanistan, they say nothing has happened.
Four have filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against IRCC.
“All the killers I helped to put behind the bars are now on the streets. They recognize me,” said Ahmad Malgarai, who is among the four men who filed the complaint. He served with the Canadian military in Kandahar from 2007 to 2008.
He said the Taliban has visited his in-laws’ house three times.
“I want to ask Minister Sean Fraser that when the Taliban asks to choose between the interests of Canada and the life of your mother-in-law, please tell me which one would you choose?” Malgarai said.
“Please don’t put us in this position.”
Malgarai said that when the Canadian military was present in Afghanistan, they had “chopped a LCA’s brother’s head just because he was working for the Canadian forces.” Now that the Taliban has taken control, Malgarai fears that fate for more advisers’ families.
The federal government twice postponed meetings for conciliation, a mandatory process as per the human rights commission, but was supposed to meet with the advisers’ group on Tuesday.
“They cancelled at the last moment on Monday night,” Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law professor who is representing the four complainants, said.
The meeting is now scheduled for Thursday. An email conversation between the advisors’s legal counsel and IRCC, provided to CBC News received, says the discussion may not result in a settlement.
“We understand that this meeting will not be a settlement negotiation and that it is not expected that IRCC be in a position to respond to, or make, a settlement offer,” IRCC wrote in the email. “We are open to hearing from the Complainants and note that we may not be in a position to answer all of their questions. As previously stated, IRCC is not in a position to negotiate a settlement and our representatives will not have a mandate to settle on Thursday.”
The federal immigration department declined to comment and the office of Minister Sean Fraser did not respond by the deadline.
“They have no intention of negotiating the settlement Thursday, therefore bringing these 45 families to safety. They have told us already no settlement and no solution will be reached tomorrow,” Attaran said.
‘Blood will be on the Canadian government’s hands’: says NDP immigration critic
Federal NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan said that if Canada expects these families to go through existing immigration streams, it “might as well just give them a death sentence.”
“These advisers wore the Canadian uniform, essential to Canada’s missions, yet in their greatest time of need when families are in grave danger, the Canadian government says get through normal immigration process,” Kwan said.
Extended family members are not eligible for the family sponsorship immigration route. Kwan noted that the processing times for regular immigration streams are very long.
A Toronto resident who CBC News has agreed to identify only by his code-name Akbar, who worked with the Canadian forces from 2007 to 2009, submitted a family sponsorship application for his family who were able to escape to Pakistan.
But his mother died during the wait.
“If Canada had acted sooner, my mom would be here with me, alive,” he said.
Kwan said Canada is being racist.
“Canada is using differential treatment for people in Afghanistan more than that of Ukraine, even though both are under siege and at great risk,” she said. “Why is that? Is it the colour of their skin? Is that the prevailing reason? This is outright discrimination.”
Kwan said the department can easily issue temporary residence visas or “single travel journey documents” for those families to expeditiously arrive in Canada.
“The government has to do what is necessary and our legal and moral responsibility,” she said. “Knowing that many lives are threatened and we are not doing everything to bring them here to safety, blood will be on the Canadian government’s hands.”