Joshua Boyle was kidnapped five long years ago. The Canadian and his American born wife Caitlan Coleman had set out on a journey through central Asia when they were captured by a group associated with the Taliban near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Coleman was pregnant at the time, and she has now given birth to two children in captivity.
“For me it’s gone from shock and disbelief to complete despair,” Boyle’s aunt Kelli O’Brien told Global News at her home in Ottawa. “A member of your family is in some other part of the world, you see the videos being sent, you know they’re being tortured and harmed and you can’t do much.”
READ MORE: Canada calls for release of Joshua Boyle, Canadian held in Afghanistan after new video appears (Dec. 2016)
Boyle’s family has only seen him through videos made by his captors.
In one Boyle pleads with Ottawa to pressure the Afghan government to stop killing prisoners. His captors demands in the past included the release of a member of their terrorist group, the Haqqani network.
Boyle’s family, though, says they have heard very little from the Canadian government; so little in fact, his aunt has taken matters into her own hands and started a social media campaign urging politicians of all stripes to #saytheirname.
“I sent that to all the NDP hopefuls, the leader of the Conservative party, I sent it to our Prime Minister, just please say their names,” O’Brien said. “And I have not gotten a response from anybody.”
The silence has been deafening, according to Boyle’s aunt.
“If their names aren’t spoken…it’s like they’re not acknowledged as human beings, as Canadians – they’re the people over there kidnaped,” she said.
“They need to know they’re beloved family members – they’re sons, they’re nephews, they’re great-nephews, they’re grandchildren of our family.”
O’Brien acknowledges there could be work going on behind the scenes, but is hoping for better communication.
“I have a lot of hope with Trudeau, I do,” she said. “He’s a father, he just needs to look at the picture of Josh and Cait with their children and that should be enough to do everything they can to bring them home.”
“I didn’t think asking them to speak their names was a big ask, but so far it’s fallen on deaf ears.”
Global News requested comment from everyone O’Brien reached out to. NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh didn’t respond to our request, while Guy Caron and Nicki Ashton declined to comment.
Charlie Angus said he would look into the issue, and Andrew Scheer echoed the same sentiment.
“I’m very, very interested in that particular issue, I’m happy to get back to you very shortly,” Scheer told reporters in Ottawa.
Global News then asked the Prime Minister if Boyle’s case had fallen off his government’s radar and if he would say Boyle’s name.
Justin Trudeau insisted he is following the case closely.
WATCH: Trudeau says the Taliban’s Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle still on radar
“I can assure everyone that I have regular updates on the Coleman-Boyle case, this is a situation we continue to take very seriously as we engage with regional partners and international friends and allies to try and get both Joshua Boyle and Ms. Coleman home safe,” Trudeau said. “This is something that is very much on the government’s radar.”
Asked to provide specifics on his government’s efforts to try and get Boyle and his family home, Trudeau declined.
“I would not want to comment on things that could put in danger the work that we are doing,” he said. “Rest assured we are working very hard.”
That may be easier said than done for Boyle’s aunt, whose pleas have fallen on deaf ears until now.
She won’t rest until he’s home.
“You say their names, look at their faces, look at the faces of their children and that should make you want to work harder to bring them home.”
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.