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RAWA Message to
American Association of University Women in California

April 16,1999

Dear Friends,

We greet you from Afghanistan, from the midst of the flames of the most horrendous women's inferno on Earth. Doubtless a number of you are aware of what is and has been going on in our devastated country and what women here are going through. These days your attention and the attention of the world at large is being claimed by the events in Kosovo and the media are awash with reports and images of the bombardment of Yugoslavia, therefore it is highly unlikely that you will be hearing much from Afghanistan. But the bitter fact remains that Afghanistan continues to be the land of the most tragic and the most shameful humanitarian disaster. The living hell that is the lives of women in Afghanistan cannot be compared with either Kosovo, nor Kashmir, nor Iran, nor anywhere else in the world.

Some time ago we received a poem written by an Afghan woman entitled "How I Wish I Was From Kosovo!" The poet envies the attention and sympathy of the world community and international media given to Kosovo and the Kosovo refugees. She touches on the bitter irony of the concept of Freedom in the depths of Tragedy: Afghanistan is a "free" country but the very basic freedoms of its people and particularly its women are garrotted by the tentacles of the cruellest religious fascism.

In the forgotten corner of the planet that is Afghanistan, at this dawn of the 21st century, women and their children are doomed, in the name of religion

  • to die in their homes of the most common and most easily treatable diseases because of lack of access to basic health care, for the sole reason that they have no mahram (legal male escort)

  • to be tormented by filth and infested by lice because of inability to see to personal cleanliness and hygiene due to lack of water, power and fuel in consequence of appalling imposed poverty

  • to see their talents, energies and potential wasted in a country with an illiteracy rate of over 75% and to see themselves and their daughters doomed to the everlasting torment of vegetation in ignorance and degradation

The Taliban fundamentalist terrorists aim at psychologically beating half of the society's population to pulp through systematic humiliation. As long as they retain political power they will arrogantly question women's human dignity in order to squash and silence any defiant women's movement or voice. In this the most backward country on Earth, the fundamentalists bind the tongues and minds of some 10 million girls and women in the name of the Koran and Islamic Sharia law with unscrupulous use of religion and Kalashnikovs. They well know that religion as a means for intimidation is no less awesome than the gun.

RAWA is the only Afghan feminist organisation with a staunchly uncompromising anti-fundamentalist agenda. It is for this reason that Islamic fundamentalists of all hues and colours love to label RAWA as "infidel" and its staunch resistance and struggle against savage fundamentalist tyranny and misogyny as "heathen activities". They have no scruples in using their customary vile invectives to call RAWA "a group of whores", and not content with villainous vituperation, to threaten RAWA members and activists with death or worse. But RAWA is inspired by the blood of its founder and the example set by her and other RAWA leaders. Until her death at the hands of fundamentalist hit-men in the pay of the KGB, Meena never flinched from fighting against both Soviet aggressors and fundamentalist marauders. With such inspiration, RAWA cannot be cowed by blood-curdling fundamentalist threats and is resolved to see the fight against fundamentalist savages to the very end without giving a thought to whatever trials and tribulation as may be in store for it.

We are resolved never to lower the glorious banner of "Freedom, Democracy and Women's Rights". As is evident from its name, RAWA believes that attainment of even a portion of the aims and objectives it has set for itself will be no less than a veritable "revolution" in a country like Afghanistan. We are proud to be combatants in such a revolutionary women's army. We believe that deliverance from the rot of fundamentalism does not lie in the physical annihilation of this or that Arab or non-Arab fundamentalist terrorist leader. With such an approach to the issue, it is very much possible for the fundamentalists to make a hero of a nobody and elevate the nobody-hero into a myth with which to strengthen the foetid fundamentalist system in Afghanistan or any other blighted country. It will only be through total withdrawal of political, financial and military support to fundamentalist and quasi-fundamentalist Islamic governments and misogynic Islamic organisations around the world that the United States or any other world power can hope to attain a positive result in its touted struggle against Islamic fundamentalism and fanaticism.

Distinguished friends,

In the tortuous and sanguinary struggle that RAWA is waging against fundamentalism and for democracy and women's rights we are pitted against an array of forces financed, equipped and armed to the teeth by different countries. RAWA does not enjoy the support of even an NGO, let alone a government or governments laying claim to championing democracy and human rights. Our expectation from you and your forum is to realise that RAWA's struggle is your struggle. We look to you to call on pro-freedom women and women's organisations in the United States and elsewhere in the world not to leave us alone in our struggle, and to consider support for RAWA and its work as a challenge to their conscience. We are confident that through your practical support to RAWA -as the representative of the tyrannised and enslaved women of Afghanistan-you will be able to draw the attention and active support of justice-seeking women's organisations in the United States. We believe we are entitled to expect from you, as the most conscious and responsible forum of highly qualified women in the world, not to remain indifferent to this SOS from RAWA. The fundamentalists are, by creed and down to the marrows of their bones, sworn enemies of women, science and culture. They rely on weapons, money and abuse of religion to smash RAWA once and for all. You should not allow them to do this. Hear our voice and grasp the hand that we have managed to extend from this burning inferno.

With warm salutations, and in expectation of your resounding vote of solidarity with the most tyrannised women on Earth,

The Leadership Council of the
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)

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