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Dying to serve Canada
Jul 12, 2008 04:30 AM
THE CANADIAN PRESS
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan–They lost their limbs serving Canada, and now they're asking to be allowed into the country.
They are among the scores of young Afghan men who have been maimed or killed while working as interpreters for the international armies fighting in their homeland.
They have been shot at, blown up, tortured and threatened.
In at least one case, an interpreter's body was strung up in a public square and left to rot there for weeks as a lesson to anyone else thinking of helping the foreigners.
Hasham is one of these young men who survived.
Sporting a boyish smile and a late adolescent's peach fuzz, he describes how his future in Afghanistan vanished when a roadside bomb tore off his left leg.
Hasham dragged himself across the carpet in his living quarters yesterday, pulled on his only shoe, and hopped up to retrieve a document stored in a safe place by the door.
It is a letter from Canadian soldier Maj. Mike Lake, lauding him for his bravery and loyalty.
Hasham proudly hands over the letter and asks a Canadian journalist to use it to get him into Canada.
When told it's not that simple to immigrate to Canada – there are forms, fees, criteria, and paperwork – he breathes an exasperated sigh.
Canadian soldiers are encouraging their Afghan colleagues to start a union, saying it would protect them against things like arbitrary dismissal or delays in getting insurance payments when they're injured.
But Hasham says his only desire now is to live in Canada, either in Saskatchewan, or in that "French part" of the country, Quebec.