Sayed Shah Sharifi hoped his family would be safer with him gone.
Sharifi is a young Afghan we've spoken to several times. He worked as an interpreter for Canada's soldiers during the combat mission in Kandahar.
Afterwards, that work led to death threats. Canada set up a special visa program for Afghans at risk because of their work alongside our troops. Mr. Sharifi applied, but was rejected. Twice. Immigration Canada couldn't find what they called "a consistent threat narrative.
Then the Toronto Star dug up Mr Sharifi's story.
Other journalists followed suit, and, last year, Mr. Sharifi got his visa. He arrived in Toronto, last summer, full of hope.
Then, last week, he got the news from Kandahar. Five members of his his family were dead.
From the Toronto Star:
Afghan interpreter’s family killed by Taliban near KandaharSayed Shah Sharifi fought to come to Canada, saying the Taliban threatened to kill him and his family because he was an interpreter for Canadian forces. This month, five of his relatives were killed by a roadside bomb. Three were children.
Unfortunately, Mr Sharifi's story is not unique as it appears that the very countries these brave Afghans and Iraqis have worked for, have reneged on their promises to guard them and their families in return for their commitment to our Troops and their mission.
As It Happens has done a few interviews over the years with both Mr Shafiri and indeed some of the Canadian Troops who, upon their return to Canada, have lobbied tirelessly to have governments uphold their promises to ensure safe passage and a new life in our countries they have served so selflessly.
I remember a few years back getting a phone call from a US base in Iraq. One of my deployed American Soldiers had called me - as he often did - because his interpreter had insisted he wanted to talk to a British/Canadian who supported the American Troops. The Iraqi thought this was amazing - and hilarious!
What followed was an hour long conversation with a young interpreter who daily risked his own life, and that of his young wife and children, because he believed in helping our Americans in their goal of making Iraq a better place for fathers and mothers to raise their children in peace. Amidst all the laughter - and yes, there was lots of laughter as we talked together - this articulate Iraqi, whose English was better than a lot of native English speakers, shared the hazards of his life as he worked in the US base. We covered all manner of topics, not least of all was the danger he and others like him faced every day, as they knew they were on death lists because they chose to help us help them. BUT what came through loud and clear to me was his belief in a brighter future for his country, and he was determined to continue serving alongside our Troops - at great personal expense - towards a freedom previously unknown under the Saddam regime.
This young man had NO intention of leaving his own country and taking up a government offer to resettle in the US, but did propose that I become his #2 wife and move there so I could teach his young wife my western wisdoms. I had to demur, of course, telling him I was SURE nowhere in Iraq was ready for the likes of me. A whole 'nother story for another day.
Be that as it may, over the years I have watched with great interest (and increasing alarm) as our governments have mouthed empty platitudes about their commitment to these brave interpreters who have risked all - and yet, I am sure that Mr Shafiri's tragedy is not unique. I have no doubt there are many other Shafiri's we never hear about, who have been killed because they chose the cause of freedom over the boot of tyranny.
And still the empty rhetoric from western governments continues.
From the BBC:
22 May 2013
Afghan interpreters to get right to live in UK