On the morning of April 28, 1998, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) staged a demonstration in Peshawar under the slogan "8th Saur (April 28) more odious than 7th Saur (April 27)!" to expose Jihadis and the Taliban who with their blood-drenched domination have unleashed an unprecedented reign of terror and savagery on the people of Afghanistan in general and on women in particular.
In addition to some 300 RAWA members and activists, a large number of Afghan women from different cities in Pakistan and some from nearby provinces in Afghanistan, and representatives of progressive and democratic Pakistani women's organisations participated in the demonstrations. A number of Pakistani and foreign reporters and photographers were also present.
On the day before the demonstration was due to be staged a number of RAWA activists visited Afghan enclaves in Peshawar to ask for participation of Afghans in the demonstration which was aimed at exposing the ugly features of the Jihadis and the Taliban and to express solidarity and sympathy with Afghan women inside Afghanistan. Many of our sisters and mothers responded positively and participated in the demonstration.
The demonstration began at 9:00 a.m. at Shaheen Town in Peshawar. The demonstrators, marching in neat ranks, carried large posters depicting the destruction and devastation of Kabul city and large portraits of Martyred Meena and other martyred Afghan women, together with banners and placards in Pashtu, Persian, Urdu and English. A vehicle mounted with loudspeakers and covered with banners was slowly moving in the midst of the ranks of demonstrators. A number of RAWA activists riding in the vehicle raised cue slogans which were responded to with fervour by participants in the march. The gibbeted effigies of Rabbani, Dostum, Khalili, Masoud and Mullah Omar carried in the vehicle symbolised the mood of the demonstrators.
In the course the march RAWA members declaimed poems, chanted slogans and gave impassioned speeches. Students of RAWA schools sang revolutionary and patriotic songs.
Tahera's speech, excerpts of which we give here, was punctuated by applause:
"With the fall of the Soviet-installed puppet regime, Jihadi fundamentalists and remnants of Russian myrmidons who had metamorphosed into Dostum's militiamen fell on the lives, honour and property of the people of Afghanistan with such ferocity that, figuratively speaking, the smoke of the conflagration rose above the throne of God.
"Today the length and breadth of Afghanistan is ablaze in war, insecurity, destitution, unemployment, hyperinflation and, in some places, famine. The psychopathic fundamentalist creatures did whatever they could to destroy our country and our beautiful Kabul, the capital city beloved by the people of Afghanistan. They have bombarded and rocketed Kabul and other cities to utter ruin. There is no end in sight to all these crimes; the fundamentalist entities are scheming day and night to devour each other.
"In encore performances of their exhibitions of infamy, the most scandalous of which have been hypocritical covenants made in the name of all that is holy, the Jihadis and the Taliban were once again brought together in Islamabad to once again hoodwink our compatriots. We must remember that these so-called peace parleys are, and have always been, dread harbingers of ferocious fighting in the offing. The pattern is all too familiar: these Ikhwani and Dostumi miscreants and traitors have met together so many times to deceive each other by talking peace that the pattern has become unmistakable. With false agreements that every Afghan knows they will not honour they get their paymasters to pay them more.
"In utter desperation born of extreme pauperisation and total lack of income due to lack of employment, many an Afghan woman has had to have her children sold off in the hope that their purchasers will at least keep their bellies full. Many have had to put their honour up for sale to stave off hunger. At a time when women of other countries of the world are preparing to enter the 21st century with high hopes of even wider social emancipation through ever greater participation in scientific and cultural domains, our women and our people are in debilitating throes brought on by the fundamentalist plague. The foul web of savage ignorance and terroristic obscurantism spun by seminary talibs is plunging our enmeshed women ever deeper into the abyss of darkness and misery. No eye that can see and no ear that can hear is capable of doing justice to the unbound grief and misery of our tortured women, let alone being able to remedy their injuries or comforting their agony.
"Compatriots, let us remember and pay homage to our martyred women, and let us feel the pain and anguish that is governing their being and their lives. Let us relay the cries of agony of those being flogged in public places by dehumanised talib-cubs for the crime of being women; let us give voice to their suffocated fury and acrid calls for vengeance on the perpetrators of such savage, crushing, wilful humiliation.
Salima, another RAWA member, reiterated that the demonstration was to deplore the 28th Saur [April 28] the black day of infamy day which our history and people will never forget. On this day, sold-out and traitorous fascist elements such as Golbodin Hekmatyar, Rabbani, Sayyaf and Khalili seized Kabul with the active support of their foreign paymasters and ravaged our beautiful capital city. She said that Afghan men and women who had sacrificed their all for the liberation of the motherland and for years had fought in the anti-Soviet war of liberation cherished the fond hope that after all those struggles and epic heroism they will see peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and would finally be able to dress the wounds of war. But the depraved Jihadi ignoramuses who seized power so outdid the Khalqi and Parchami chained dogs of the defunct Soviet enemy in infamy and perfidy that the Khalqi and Parchami annals of treachery and shame were veritably whitewashed. The Jihadis so disgraced themselves and so disgusted their foreign lords and masters that the latter had no alternative but to replace them with the Taliban, mercenaries they hoped would better be able to deliver the goods.
Salima went on to say that with the financial and military support of their remote-controllers in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the Taliban were able to bring the larger portion of the Afghan homeland under their domination, but in ignorance, misogynism and animosity towards democratic rights and freedoms of the people, these master-ignoramuses outdid even their Jihadi brothers in creed and criminal deed. Salima confidently predicted that the Taliban would meet their inevitable shameful end much sooner than the Russian myrmidon Parchamis and Khalqis. Salima's message to Afghan women was: "Bereaved mothers and sisters, do not pin your hopes on any international organisation or any outside power to bring peace, security and prosperity to our country. Our salvation is in our own insurrection to cleanse our country from the filth of the Taliban and the Jihadis."
Sharifa, another RAWA member, spoke in Pashtu:
"It is an evident fact that the people of Afghanistan are deprived of their very basic human rights. The crimes and atrocities committed in Afghanistan by the Jihadis and the Taliban have no equal in the world. This is a country where 70-year old grandmothers and four-year old toddlers are not spared by Jihadi and Taliban rapists, where the sound of women's footsteps are outlawed by "government" decree. How is it possible that a nation who brought the Soviet Union, the lord and master of Khalqi and Parchami fifth columnists, to its knees, how is it that they will submit to Taliban and Jihadi fundamentalists? The day is not far off when the fundamentalists shall pay for their crimes and our people shall be able to breath in freedom, democracy and social justice in their own homeland." A resolution by RAWA in Pashtu, Dari, Urdu and English was distributed during the march. The English version of this resolution is reprinted in this present newsletter. Payam-e-Zan (Woman's Message) and other RAWA publications were warmly sought after by our compatriots participating in the march and unprecedented sales were made.
Not surprisingly, after two hours' march there was an attack on the demonstrators by a group of talibs from a nearby religious madrassa. These insane fanatics had sticks and clubs in their hands and set on RAWA demonstrators with the vilest invectives which could vie in foulness with the vituperative outpourings of the likes of Ishaq Negargar and Nabi Mesdaq.
To the utter consternation of the arrogant fanatics, RAWA women were not only undaunted, they charged to the counter-attack with a zeal and determination which could only arise from an unquenchable drive for revenge and hatred towards these incarnations of the shame of humanity. The women gave the talib-puppy epitomes of shame and ignorance a bargain they had not reckoned for. A number of RAWA members were injured, some of them seriously.
The resistance and counter-attack put up by RAWA women was so unexpected for the inferiority-complex maddened talib-cubs that very soon their chanting of Allah-u-Akbar lost all wind and quite a number of them took to screaming and frantically looking for refuge. Some found safe haven in a nearby garage and tightly shut the door closed. Seeing the women put up such courageous resistance to the cowardly attack, a large number of our brother Afghan compatriots who were following or walking alongside the march and showing their support for the demonstrators, rushed to the defence of the women and set on the panicking religious macho-cubs. At this stage of the confrontation the police who had been suspiciously monitoring the women's demonstration from the outset intervened and unfortunately prevented RAWA women from bringing home the lesson to the Taliban that outside the protection of their armed and armoured vehicles and un-perched from their favourite mounts on the barrels of tanks, the hatred and fury of the despised "ajeza's" in itself will be enough to teach them a lesson they will never forget till the end of their shameful lives, namely, the price of arrogantly showing how devoid of all sense of honour they are by trampling on the democratic rights of the people in general and of women in particular, and in a foreign country to boot. The talib macho-boys were confident that the women would panic and scuttle at the first intimidating fanatic screams, but what they didn't know was that -with complete understanding of the inherent hooliganism of talibs and their Jihadi brothers-- RAWA always anticipates such cowardly attacks on its demonstrations and protest actions, and therefore is always fully alert and prepared for such eventualities.
Anti-fundamentalist emotions heightened a hundred fold after this cowardly attack by the Taliban. The thunder of slogans against the Taliban and all other fundamentalist fascists ricocheted from all corners till noon when the demonstrations ended with singing of the anthem "Liberation and Democracy" and of the stirring song "This Beautiful Homeland of Ours" at Gora Qabristan. A number of press and media reporters conducted interviews with RAWA activists during the march. These interviews were broadcast that same night by the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Tajikistan, Radio Uzbekistan and Radio Iran and were reflected in major Pakistani newspapers on the next days.
From the sidewalks: