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UO student raising money to get family out of Afghanistan

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UO student raising money to get family out of Afghanistan

EUGENE, Ore. -- A University of Oregon student is raising money to help her extended family in Afghanistan get to safety.

Mashal Rahmati's parents moved to the United States in the 1980s; however, much of her family did not have the means to leave Afghanistan. Fast forward to 2021, their ability to get out of the country has now been made even more difficult. 

Her family is one of the thousands trapped in Afghanistan, threatened by the harsh rule of the Taliban regime now that US troops are gone.

"We all thought we had more time," said Rahmati about the Aug. 30 deadline. "We had no idea things would change completely in a span of 24 hours."

Getting to the Kabul airport was also nearly impossible.

Rahmati and her family are members of the Hazara ethnic group. Since the Taliban takeover, there has been concern that long-persecuted ethnic and religious minorities -- like the Shia Hazara -- will be targeted as they were under previous Taliban rule.

“Hazaras couldn’t even get through the first Taliban checkpoints," said Rahmati. "Whenever they would see that they’re Hazara they would turn them away. It just wasn't possible to get through, so they were sheltering in place."

To make matters worse, Rahmati's family has ties to the previous government in Kabul. This puts them in even more danger, forcing them to lay low while hearing horror stories of what's happened to others so far. 

"He said that a former colleague who worked at the presidential palace was captured by the Taliban, so they don't know whether he's dead or alive. He's just been black bagged and gone. That’s the reality that could happen to my family," said Rahmati.

Taliban forces unlawfully killed 13 ethnic Hazaras, including nine surrendering former government soldiers and a 17-year-old girl in Afghanistan's Daykundi province on Aug. 30, according to a new investigation by Amnesty International. 

"The Taliban extrajudicially executed nine of the Afghan National Defence Security Forces after they had surrendered, killings that appear to be war crimes. Two civilians were killed as they attempted to flee the area, including a 17-year-old girl shot when the Taliban opened fire on a crowd of people," Amnesty said in a news release on Monday, citing eyewitness testimony gathered as part of its investigation.

Eleven of the victims of the Aug. 30 killings were former members of the Afghan National Defence Security Forces, and two were civilians, Amnesty reports. The killings are said to have taken place in Kahor village in the Khidir district of Daykundi province.

Amnesty said it has verified images and video evidence recorded following the incident and laid out events in a timeline, beginning with the Taliban taking control of Daykundi province on Aug. 14.

University of Oregon professor Dr. Anita Weiss said the history between the Taliban and Hazara is a violent one.

"There have been many cases of Hazara in Baluchistan getting onto buses and either as they're leaving [Pakistan] and they go through Afghanistan a little bit before they get to Iran, there are cases of people being, you know mass slaughters of people on buses going there and especially coming back," said Weiss.

Weiss is currently in Pakistan and said if an Afghan refugee can cross the border into Pakistan, they’re given a 30-day visa.

But the situation is fluid with the Taliban closing their side of the border, and there's the risk of being turned away.

“This is the Afghan Taliban that are doing all the checking; they want to see who’s crossing the border," said Weiss. “They’re less enthusiastic to help minority communities like the Hazara.”

There's also a high price to pay in order to get to safety.

“Where the big money comes in is to pay somebody to transport you, and the prices are exorbitant right now," said Weiss. "To pay someone at the border crossing, the Afghans to let you cross, and then of course resettlement within Pakistan.”

It's why back in Eugene, Rahmati is fighting to get money for her loved ones. She started a fundraiser because her family has no access to their money after the banks were shut down. Her goal is $50,000 but that is only the start.

“You need funds for attorney fees, for humanitarian parole visa application, filing fees," said Rahmati.

Rahmati said she will not stop fighting until they are safely in the United States one day.

“From here in America, it feels far away; it feels very distant. But for me, it’s very very close to my heart," said Rahmati.

If you would like to make a donation, you can follow the link to Rahmati's Twitter page here or the Paypal link here.

If you would like to learn more about Hazara genocide you can visit: @stopthehazaragenocide

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