War veteran seeks protection for interpreter
WASHINGTON (PAN): An American Afghan war veteran on Thursday launched a new petition, urging the Obama administration to protect the Afghan interpreter who saved his life in combat.
Janis Shinwari, like many other Afghan interpreters assisting US troops, has become a target for the Taliban and is seeking to escape to America but his US visa application has been held up in the red tape since 2011, veteran Matt Zeller said.
"I consider Janis a lifelong friend and a combat brother. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be here," said Zeller, who launched his petition on Change.org. "And come 2014, as American combat troops pull out of Afghanistan, I cannot bear to think what might happen to Janis."
The veteran said: "As a nation, we owe it to Janis to ensure his safety -- and that of thousands of other interpreters like him -- by providing him with what he needs to start a new life."
While Washington has its eyes fixed on Syria, an Army veteran from Afghanistan is calling out for the government to help Janis, who is running out of time to get to safety," said Deputy Campaign Director Tim Newman.
Zeller said Shinwari not only saved his life when they were caught in a firefight, but also protected countless other troops by helping them communicate in real time and serving as a cultural link to Afghan nationals.
But because interpreters are so visible to their communities, they often become targets for violence. According to Zeller, the Taliban have actually added Janis’ name to their hit-list. More than 9,000 people have signed the petition so far.
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