By Mehmooda (an activist of RAWA), March 26, 2006
Defense of Abdul Rahman Misses the Mark!
When Abdul Rahman, an Afghan Christian convert was arrested in Kabul, the U.S. and many other governments in the West seemed to wake up! Suddenly over this one man, there was an overwhelming --even global-- response to the fundamentalist Chief Justice Mullah Fazal Hadi Shinwari and the other mullahs surrounding him. Suddenly, all eyes in the Western World focused on single freedom while we are fighting for so much more. There are many others in our country that are not as “lucky” as Rahman to generate such global interest.
Similar to what other media have done, the Christian Science Monitor published an article about Rahman. It was written by Tony Perkins on March 24, 2006. Since it appears to us to reflect aspirations and view points of the many in the West, I would like to take this opportunity to comment on this article.
Tony Perkins writes: “Is this (to force Rahman to change his mind) what Americans have fought for in the frigid mountains of Tora Bora?”
American troops fought in Tora Bora and other areas to remove the Taliban from power but unfortunately this did not bring freedom and democracy for the people of Afghanistan. This is because the American government allowed the Taliban to be replaced with many Islamic fundamentalists from the Northern Alliance (“NA”) who are as bad or worse than the Taliban.
We continue to struggle under the weight of a Constitution that while it incorporates the Declaration on Human Rights only recognizes the rights of people to change their religion as far as it does not conflict with Sharia. As RAWA has always emphasized, fundamentalists of all types have a gun in one hand and Sharia in another while using both to suppress the people.
There are many people working in Afghanistan who believe in true change and democracy. RAWA is just one of many who believe in true secular democracy with many guaranteed freedoms --we are not so different from you. Our statement of core values includes:
We are not alone in these beliefs. There are many people in Afghanistan who are working under the threat of assassination and death to make these beliefs into a reality for secular democracy. We are writing in the hope that people in the West will realize we are not so different-we are fighting for the freedom, democracy, and safety that are the very cornerstones of your existence.
It is apparent to us writers in the West don’t realize there are 25 million Afghans struggling for these ideals for Mr. Perkins continues: “But we will have gained nothing if we allow another Islamic fundamentalists regime to arise in Kabul.” We are concerned that the failure of the World Press to adequately report on the views of democratically minded groups such as RAWA will allow the continued misconception that most of our people have views similar as those expressed by people in the Northern Alliance. This group would tear the Constitution to shreds whenever they felt the need. They feel no shame in talking about democracy while threatening free press and any voice speaking out against the fundamentalists.
We are furious that the rampant murder, rape, insecurity, stealing of billions of dollars, etc. are now the norm in Afghanistan. We are working every day with our partners in the West to make our country and people safer. We have not been able to stop the Northern Alliance members, representatives of the Taliban, and Parchamists and Khalqis from filling the seats in the parliament. We need the justice-loving Western Press shed the same light and global pressure on these groups. They are enemies of the Afghan people!
The theft of aid money destined to help the poor in Afghanistan is particularly upsetting in the light of a recent report by UNICEF that “An estimated 600 children under the age of five die every day in Afghanistan, mostly due to preventable illnesses, some 50 women die every day due to obstetric complications…”. That billions of dollars were stolen instead of used to help our suffering people is a major crime in itself.
Before “9/11” we were suffering under the Taliban and since then we have had the immoral fetters of the Northern Alliance clamped on us. Don’t let that be the legacy of the Americans who “have fought in the frigid mountains of Tora Bora”!
We are pleased that there is such righteous outrage over Rahman’s fate but this anger is has missed its mark. This anger should be targeted and mobilized to help with the horrible ongoing hardships of 25 million Afghans. The luxury to defend a single individual is a Western viewpoint - we are not at that point in our country. We must defend democracy as a whole. Anything less is insufficient and insignificant.
"Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a current U.S. ally, was among the mujahedeen leaders in power in Afghanistan- the ones who welcomed Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan in 1996 from Sudan, where he had been forced to leave under U.S. pressure. Sayyaf, whose men carried out brutal atrocities during the mujahedeen’s rule, was a close ally of Ahmed Shah Massoud, on the rights in this photograph, whose men also carried out brutal acts."
“I is for Infidel” by Kathy Gannon
Unfortunately, the world media has not always taken an interest in the anti-democratic and criminal nature of the Northern Alliance and other fundamentalists. For example, there was very little media attention when thousands of Hindus and Sikhs compatriots were looted, raped and expelled from Afghanistan. And when the Northern Alliance bands of Qanooni, Rabbani, Sayyaf, Massoud, Khalili, Dostum, Mohaqiq etc. slaughtered thousands of Kabul residents during the period of 1992 to 1996. There are several other examples of when little or nothing was said in the world media such as infamous pro-Sayyaf and pro-Gulbaddin fundamentalist like Shinwari were assigned to such a key post, when 13 year old Rahima raped by Northern Alliance men, when the former interior minister Ali Ahmad Jalali didn’t disclose the list of high level officials engaged in drug-trafficking, when according to the former finance minister 90% of billions of dollar of aids have been embezzled and when Islmail Khan were committing such a repellent crime against women in Herat and so forth. We are asking for the same news coverage and righteous anger for these crimes!
In the last paragraph of the article Mr. Perkins says: “Who can claim it is a just war that results in establishing a radical Islamic fundamentalist’s regime in Afghanistan?” This is same painful question from our people and millions of American now ask. Given the current situation, we feel our nation has been pulled out of the flames only to be thrown into the fire.
Mr. Perkins ends writing with the following words: “For freedom to endure it must first gain a foothold, and that foothold may well depend on the fate of Abdul Rahman.”
We must beg to differ. That “foothold” will depend basically on the fate of our whole SECULAR DEMOCRACY. We must fight for all freedoms not just one.
We are sure Abdullah Rahman will soon be released unharmed. However this “thaw” will never make a summer. Such facades of the US and its Afghan puppets will be repeated again and again while the sufferings of our people will go on and on…
Is this democracy? Is this the way freedom will gain a “foothold”?
Hearing the cry of tens of thousands murdered residents of Kabul, no freedom-loving women or men should trust their killers.
Do you hear their cry?