More than 100 Afghan Americans and supporters rallied Saturday at Seattle’s Westlake Park to protest killings of innocent people in Afghanistan and call for aid to refugees. The event included two readings from the Quran and chants of “What do we want? Peace. When do we want it? Now.”
Protesters criticized the U.S. for not evacuating all people who need it, and lamented deaths caused by U.S.-led airstrikes during the Obama and Trump administrations. Speakers urged emergency humanitarian aid for people in Afghanistan.
Saturday’s event in Seattle, like others around the country, comes during a chaotic withdrawal by U.S. forces, now marked by terrorism.
U.S. officials say more than 100,000 people have been airlifted out of the capital city of Kabul. These include interpreters who helped the Americans and women who fear repression from the incoming Taliban regime. A suicide bombing nearby by an Islamic State group affiliate killed at least 170 Afghans and 13 American troops.
President Joe Biden’s deadline to end an airlift is approaching Tuesday.
Washington state leaders have voiced bipartisan sentiment to take in Afghan refugees, echoing the movement led by Gov. Dan Evans to embrace postwar immigrants from Vietnam, after the fall of Saigon in 1975. They’ve also highlighted the need to support American veterans.
Washington has become home to 5,000 Afghan refugees in the past decade, Gov. Jay Inslee wrote to Biden. The International Rescue Committee in Seattle says it has welcomed 60 newcomers from Afghanistan since the beginning of June.