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Green light for rally to show Scotland ‘stands with Afghanistan’

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SCOTS are invited to “stand with Afghanistan” in a solidarity rally this weekend, The National can reveal.

Members of the country’s Afghan community have been granted permission for a public event in Glasgow.

It’s to take part in the city’s historic George Square – previously the scene of anti-war and pro-refugee rights demonstrations – on Saturday.

Organisers, the charity Glasgow Afghan United (GAU), are asking people from across Scotland’s communities to come together in a show of support for those affected by the Taliban’s ascent to power.

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It’s taken hold of almost every part of Afghanistan in a matter of days following the decision by US and UK leaders to pull out of the country 20 years after the American-led invasion undertaken in response to al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks.

READ MORE: Afghanistan at another crossroads as Taliban take control

There’s now a rush by civilians to leave amidst grave safety and human rights fears.

Speaking from Kabul today, one former interpreter told The National he was hiding close to his home as house-to-house searches were now taking place. He said: “My wife and children are crying for me.

“I’m counting minutes for my death because the Taliban will eventually arrest me. Unfortunately, it was my fault during my life that I worked for British forces, but they left us behind.”

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And in Scotland, where the Afghan community numbers 4000, members are frantically trying to bring their loved ones to safety in the UK.

GAU hopes this weekend’s “family-friendly” rally, which will use the hashtag #ScotlandStandsWithAfghanistan, will give them strength and show the Afghan people they’ve not been forgotten by Scotland.

It will be held from noon until 2pm and it’s thought that speakers will include local politicians.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the MSP for Glasgow Southside, has said her government is “willing to play our full part and do all we can to help those in peril as a result of the horrifying situation currently unfolding“.

Meanwhile, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn MSP Bob Doris (above) has lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament to express solidarity with Afghanistan.

Abdul Bostani of GAU said: “This event is to show people in Afghanistan and Afghans in Scotland that they are not alone. It is to stand up for human rights, for peace, for equality, for diversity and for unity.

“These are all values Scotland holds dear – we hope many people will join us to stand with Afghanistan in Glasgow on Saturday and make a powerful statement that cannot be ignored by the UK Government or by the international community.”

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Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council has confirmed it is now “providing a safe haven” to 62 refugees who have fled Afghanistan since June and “stands ready to assist other people evacuated as part of the humanitarian effort”.

The new arrivals, including 24 children, have been granted refugee status under a 7000-place scheme for interpreters and others who worked with British forces.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford calls on UK Government to take in 35,000 Afghan refugees

Equalities and human rights convener Councillor Jen Layden says her team “await urgent discussions with the Home Office” on doing more and a Syria-style scheme is now required: “The images we are now seeing of events unfolding in Afghanistan are harrowing.

“We should all be concerned about the implications of the Taliban takeover of swathes of Afghanistan on human rights abuses and persecution of those they perceive to be their opponents.

“The UK Government has to step up to the plate. They must mobilise an Afghan programme with funding for local authorities and third sector organisations to support, similar to that put in place for fleeing Syrians, and do so immediately. Glasgow is already sheltering 24 Afghan families, and we stand ready to offer whatever additional support we can.”

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