Manitoba

'We need to act': Letter-writing campaign aims to help mother, son under threat in Afghanistan

A family who came to Winnipeg to escape death threats in Afghanistan three years ago is hoping the power of the pen will help their widowed daughter-in-law and infant grandson find safety in Canada as well.

Winnipeg family wants government to help daughter-in-law and grandson

Winnipeggers took part in a letter-writing campaign Saturday asking the federal government to help a widowed mother and her son find safety in Canada. (CBC)

A family who came to Winnipeg to escape death threats in Afghanistan three years ago is hoping the power of the pen will help their widowed daughter-in-law and infant grandson find safety in Canada as well.

The family, who have asked to remain anonymous to protect their family still in Afghanistan, held a letter-writing campaign in Winnipeg Saturday that saw Winnipeggers pen letters to policy makers asking for help.

"The family is pleading to the government to guide them and help them with their current situation," explained Farima Afaq, a human rights activist who is working with the family.

Human rights activist Farima Afaq is working with the family and helped to organize the letter-writing campaign. (CBC)

"Right now they are in Afghanistan and they haven't been able to get themselves to a second country to be able to come to Canada."

The family, who are part of a minority religious group in Afghanistan, started receiving death threats in 2014 after word got out that their two daughters had been sent abroad to study in the U.S.

It's something the family had tried to keep secret from the Taliban for their safety.

"But the Taliban found out about it and sent a threatening letter to the family that they will all be killed," said Afaq.

The family was able to seek asylum in Canada in 2015, but their son and his wife and child were unable to flee and remained in hiding in Afghanistan.

The family's son was killed in Afghanistan last September. (CBC)

Afaq said their son was found and killed last September.

"Now the same threat is following the wife and the child," said Afaq.

"They're currently in hiding… and they're not showing themselves in public because of the threat.

"If they do not receive help their lives will be gone."

 The letter writing campaign kicked off in Winnipeg on Saturday at the Immigrant Centre on Adelaide Street.

Afaq says those who couldn't make the session Saturday can still write a letter to their member of parliament asking the Canadian government to help the woman and her child come to Canada. An online petition has also been set up.

'I'm doing the little bit that I can do'

Kathy Moorhead-Thiessen was one of the Winnipeggers who wrote a letter Saturday.

She said she was moved to action after learning about the young mother and her son last winter.

"I thought about this young woman alone there with her baby and I put myself in her place and my daughter — who is about to have a baby," she said.

Kathy Moorhead-Thiessen says the family's story moved her to join the letter-writing campaign. (CBC)

"She needs to be here with her family so they can help her to raise her son and be family for the son, which she doesn't have in Afghanistan.

"So I'm doing the little bit that I can do."

"It's open to the public and anyone who wants to can support the cause, and support this young Afghan widow and child whose lives are at risk in Afghanistan," Afaq said.

"We need urgent action here, we need to act now."

now