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“Afghanistan, we hear you:” Community Holds Rally for Afghans Caught in Crisis

“This gives me hope for the future.” 

That’s what one man at the Lane County Farmers Market said as the Rally for Afghanistan marched and chanted past him through the vendor-lined street.

The rally began just after 2 p.m. on the sidewalk next to the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza at the county courthouse. Simultaneously, the Eugene Saturday Market was in full-swing with countless vendors and customers. 

It was led by Jade Freeman — a self-described “young and ambitious Black woman who cares about humanity and the greater good of all people.” 

Forming the group, she said that she rallied her friends together around the common cause of Afghanistan and the ongoing crisis triggered by the withdrawal of American forces.

“People of Afghanistan have been hurting [for] 40-plus years and knowing my country has a big involvement in it we need to pressure them and tell them no more,” Freeman said in a statement to Double Sided Media. “Growing up in the Oregon school system, I know how uneducated people are on Afghanistan and I’ve heard the horrible lies we have [been] told making it seem like they are all terrorists.”

Prior to marching, the group led chants in front of the free speech plaza and slowly gathered more people — all while enjoying a cup of some local SolidariTEA. Later, some brought out a large paper banner that read “We Stand With Afghanistan.” Those that had gathered added their painted hand-prints to it. 

Once complete, the group set off on a march through the market and passed out flyers. One of them read “The people of Afghanistan are not on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, they’ve been stuck in one.” 

Another flyer that was passed out outlined how the Taliban are “known for their hard-line Islamist rule” and specified the “forbidding of music and movies, forcing women to wear a full burqa, forcing men to keep their beard, and banning women from employment (except health professionals).” 

The crowd wound its way through the market and ended up at the large drum circle in the Free Speech Plaza and several joined-in to dance to the beat for a few minutes. 

D joins the drum circle in the Free Speech Plaza and dances along. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

After being kicked out of the center by someone who worked with the organizers of the Saturday Market, the group decided to continue with their march, and they did so — towards the Fifth Street Market. As they passed by, the group got many claps and cheers of support from those standing in front of the shops. 

The crowd moved onward toward the Lane County Farmers Market. While walking through, a man shopping for produce with his bicycle clapped, and as the group passed, remarked to another shopper, “this gives me hope for the future.” 

A few minutes later, the group marched up the Ferry Street Bridge and held their banner and signs up towards passing cars. 

The Rally for Afghanistan stands atop the Ferry Street Bridge in Eugene, Oregon with their banner and signs. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]
The Rally for Afghanistan leaving the Ferry Street Bridge and heading towards the Saturday Market. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

Then they marched back—this time through—the Fifth Street Market to where they started. 

There, Abdul, who runs The Best Afghani Cuisine food stand at the market’s food court provided three plates full of Bolani—which, according to the menu, is a folded tortilla filled with potato, cilantro, and green onions—to those with the rally. Abdul later got a photograph of the group in front of the food stand. 

Bolani, a folded tortilla filled with potato, cilantro, and green onions, were made and offered to the group for free by The Best Afghani Cuisine food stand within the Saturday Market. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

After enjoying food, the group moved to a corner, where Lori Bell, who came in solidarity with Afghanistan, read a speech. 

“The bodies of once passionate and dedicated human rights activists are being found lifeless and muted.

Women are being stripped of basic rights, their futures, and their lives. 

Over 100 people were murdered at the Kabul Airport in a singular bombing. Citizens looking for refuge, so desperate [that] death is a risk worth taking. 

The Taliban have brought violence, oppression, war, and chaos upon Afghanistan. Now, they’re slowly isolating the country. The Afghan people have lived and fled in fear. But fleeing is no longer an option. 

The Taliban have made promises to its people. They promise, under Islamic law, the return of a normal life after decades of [both] war and peace. 

For the children of Afghanistan, war is their normal life. Their country and future is about to be led by a terrorist group hungry for power. 

Everything the Afghanis have been fighting for simply vanished in a matter of weeks. 

If you don’t believe in what you’re fighting for, you will no longer fight. Hope is lost. But this is not only their fight. It is ours. 

We are citizens of this world. No matter what you believe, where you’re from, or who you become, you are human. We are human. We are the future. 

So, as the future, we call for peace. War does not bring peace. It brings silence. Violence does not bring power, it brings silence. 

Our duty is to break the silence. 

Afghanistan, we hear you. We march for not only your lives. But for you as people of this world. For us as the world.”

Full text of Lori Bell’s speech.

The rally—which lasted for over two hours—ended after the conclusion of Bell’s speech. 

The Rally for Afghanistan poses for a photograph before leaving the Saturday Market. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

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