AUSTIN (KXAN) — Supporters of Afghan refugees and Afghan citizens left behind as the Taliban reclaim Kabul could be heard chanting “Free Afghanistan!” at the Texas State Capitol Saturday afternoon, during a ‘Stand with Afghanistan’ rally.
As of Friday, at least 500 Americans and many more Afghans were still struggling to get out of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capitol. President Biden has set a deadline for the end of the month.
Co-organizers of the Austin event Saturday both have ties to Afghanistan. Attia Rasul is an Afghan woman at school in Austin. Diana Neak is a first-generation Afghan.
“Knowing that there might be Afghan women in my country who won’t be able to go to school, won’t be able to do what they love like filmmaking, journalism, art, music, even being in government or healthcare, they might not be able to do any of that — that really moved me to come out here and speak for the people that can’t be here,” Rasul said.
The protest Saturday ended up drawing just shy of 50 people, from all different backgrounds.
Organizers are asking local, state and federal lawmakers for three things: make asylum for Afghan refugees more attainable in the United States, send humanitarian aid into Afghanistan and implement American surveillance over the Taliban as they retake the capitol, specifically as it relates to women’s rights and safety.
“To see the struggle that my parents ran away from happening all over again, it’s very heartbreaking to watch,” Neak said.
Organizers asked people in Austin and in Texas to reach out to their lawmakers to demand the United States takes a more direct role in supporting Afghans.
On Thursday, 13 U.S. servicemembers were killed in suicide bombings outside of the Kabul airport, currently held by the United States military.
“It’s not just the Afghans, we have to understand that American soldiers have fought and some have lost their lives,” Neak said.
The U.S. Marine Corps named those fallen servicemembers Saturday in a Tweet. One of the Marines who died was 20-year-old Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza. He is from Rio Bravo, Texas.
Biden warned Saturday that commanders had told him another attack was “highly likely in the next 24-36 hours.”