Reflection of RAWA protest rally in the Press
Afghan women demonstrators
Dawn, December 11, 2000
By Mohammad Yasin
ISLAMABAD, Dec 10: Over 1,500 Afghan women and children demonstrated on Sunday between 10.30am and 1pm in favour of human rights for Afghan people to commemorate the Human Rights Day at Peshawar Mor and Karachi Company, Islamabad.
At about 11.30am, the police, present in large numbers at Karachi Company, resorted to baton-charge and tear gas shelling to stop the procession from moving ahead.
A clash between the demonstrators and "Taliban group" resulted in injuries to some people. Some Pakistanis were also beaten up allegedly by Afghan women demonstrators who took them as their Taliban rivals.
The demonstration was organized by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). A spokesperson of RAWA said that the Islamabad police tried their best to stop the procession from proceeding to Karachi Company. First came women police, and then other police joined them.
The RAWA claimed that during baton-charge by the Islamabad police, about 15 Afghan women were injured. They also used tear gas disperse women demonstrators.
The RAWA also claimed that the police did not stop pro- Taliban Afghans from using loudspeakers and shouting anti-RAWA slogans at Karachi Company.
The RAWA demonstrators carried banners commemorating Human Rights Day. One banner read, "Women's Rights Are Human Rights". And another said, "Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights".
The demonstrators were also chanting anti-Taliban slogans describing them as "fundamentalists". One slogan said, "Long live the unity of all pro-democracy and pro-women's rights forces in defence of human rights".
Eyewitnesses said, some bearded Pakistanis were mistaken for "Taliban" by the Afghans accompanying the women, and were beaten up. Four Pakistanis were reported to have been injured in the clash with the Afghans.
Protest by Afghan women leads to violence in Islamabad
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dec.11, 2000 (via CNN and New York Times)
Clad in a burqa, or veil, an activist of the Revolutionary Afghan Women Association chants slogans against Afghan fundamentalist leaders in Islamabad, Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani police fired tear gas and beat protesters with steel-tipped sticks during a demonstration Sunday against Afghanistan's hardline Taliban rulers and their policies on women.
Hundreds of supporters of the Revolutionary Afghan Women's Association staged a rally on the outskirts of Islamabad to protest human rights abuses and discrimination against women by the Taliban.
Some of the protesters -- many of them women -- threw stones at a Pakistani religious group when they started shouting slogans in favor of the Taliban, witnesses said.
The religious group was collecting money for Islamic militants in the disputed Kashmir region of India, where Muslims are fighting to become part of Islamic Pakistan.
"Afghans destroyed our stall and threw away the religious books," said Mohammed Mustafa, a supporter of the militant Jaish-e-Mohammed group.
Stone-throwing clashes broke out between supporters of the Afghan women and several people in the neighborhood. Several of the women were arrested.
Shopkeepers shuttered their businesses and ran for cover. Black smoke from burning tires and eye-burning tear gas polluted the air.
More than two million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan, mostly in Pakistan's Northwestern Frontier and southwestern Baluchistan provinces, on the Afghanistan border.
But a large number, mainly from Afghanistan's urban areas, live in Islamabad. Traditionally urban Afghans have led the fight against the Taliban's harsh version of Islam.
The Taliban rule more than 95 percent of Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul.
According to Taliban's interpretation of Islam, women are segregated from men and denied free access to work and education. They must wear the all-encompassing burqa and are not allowed to travel without a male member of their family.
The Taliban also force men to wear beards and have outlawed most entertainment, including television and music.
The Taliban are mostly Sunni Muslims and Pashtun, Afghanistan's majority ethnic group. They are fighting their northern-based opposition on several fronts in the north in an attempt to extend their rule over the entire country.
The opposition is made up of mostly ethnic and religious minorities. Some within the alliance share the Taliban's harsh brand of Islam.
The Revolutionary Afghan Women's Association also protests the opposition, which they say has been party to the destruction of their homeland and the oppression of women.
17 injured in Jaish, Afghan rights activists’ clash
News Network International (NNI), December 11, 2000
(also published in The Pakistan Observer)
ISLAMABAD (NNI): Some 17 people were injured in a clash between Afghan women human activists and the workers of Kashmiri group Jaish-e-Muhammad in Islamabad on Sunday.
The clash took place when the activists Revolutionary Association for Women in Afghanistan (RAWA) staged rally at Karachi company to mark the international human rights day.
Police arrested 37 people but released 7 of the detainees. A representative of RAWA Rahima Karemi held the Islamabad police responsible for the incident.
The RAWA claims that one of its activists has been kidnapped by workers of Kashmiri group, which has not been released. It says that three of its activists were beaten by the Jaish workers.
The violence started when some unknown people in the RAWA procession attacked the people in Jaish-e-Mohammad’s camp, injuring some of them. Some 500 local people gathered there and supported the Jaish activists. They alleged that the RAWA people have desecrated Islamic books in the camp.
The angry people attacked several shops of Afghans in Karachi company and burnt some of them. The police had to fire teargas and use batons to disperse the mob. A total of 17 persons were injured due to shelling and the use of teargas.
The group alleges that Taliban masterminded the attack on RAWA rally however a Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen rejected the charges and said Taliban are nothing to do with the incident.
Addressing the rally the RAWA leader Rahima Karemi said that human rights in the shadow of peace, democracy and progress, are being trampled in Afghanistan by Taliban that has no parallel anywhere in the world. "Afghanistan is languishing in the throes of rabid assaults on human rights and women’s right as an inalienable part of human rights".
Several hurt in RAWA, Jehadi activists clash
The Frontier Post, December 11, 2000
ISLAMABAD- The Islamabad police on Sunday resorted to lathi charge and tear gas shelling to disperse and stop clashes among the hundreds of violent members and supporters of Afghan origin RAWA and two Jehadi organizations at the Karachi Company. Dozens of activists from both the organizations suffered severe injuries when they attacked each other with sticks and pelted stones for more than 30 minutes.
The hide and seek between the members of RAWA and Jehadi organizations continued for 30 minutes with short intervals using sticks and stones.
The violent supporters of RAWA ransacked the two camps of the Jehadi organizations along the roadside, forcing the occupants to vacate the site for a while.
Several police officials also sustained injuries on the spot.
The owners of the parked vehicles, vendors and other passengers had to flee to avoid any kind of loss to their possessions.
The violent members of the opponent groups delivered fiery speeches against each other, demanding the local administration to ban their activities in the Pakistani capital and other part of the country.
The Revolutionary Association of the women of Afghanistan had organized a demonstration in Islamabad to condemn what they termed the criminal and medieval minded assaults of the Taliban and their Jihad brothers on Afghan women. Hundreds of RAWA's activists from different refugees camps and Rawalpindi Islamabad had thronged Islamabad in buses and flying coaches on Sunday morning.
They first gathered at Peshawar Mor and marched on main roads defying section 144 imposed by the local administration. The heavy contingent of police repeatedly blocked the way of the protesters and resorted minor lathi charge to stop them from further proceedings.
The RAWA members addressed the participants on main roads at four different places, blocked the traffic and condemned the jehadi forces in Afghanistan for brining miseries and devastation for the helpless people of Afghanistan and particularly for the women. A large number of men supporters of RAWA and heavy contingent of police, accompanied the procession all the way. On reaching Karachi Company, the activists in the two Jehadi Offices, on the main road, chanted slogans in favour of Taliban, Jehadi and against the women activists.
The activists of both the groups pelted stones on each other forcing the law enforcing agencies to resort to lathi charge and tear gas shelling. Later, when the women activists were returning to their buses, the youth of the two jehadi organizations chased them but the stick carrying youths blocked their way near the business plaza. The fighting continued for more than 10 minutes, resulting in the injuries of dozens of activists from both sides. The heavy contingent of police including the women police remained mere spectators during this time.
18 injured in violence during RAWA procession
The News International, December 11, 2000
ISLAMABAD: At least 18 people including two policemen were injured in a clash between the participants of a rally of the Revolutionary Afghan Women's Association (RAWA) and activists of a religious group at Karachi Company on Sunday, police and eyewitnesses said.
police used batons and fired tear gas to disperse the rowdy mob who blocked the road and rained stones on each other. The clash left at least 18 people injured. Police picked up a bout 30 protesters.
The unrest started in G-9 on Sunday when hundreds of women and men activists of RAWA staged a rally on the eve of international Human Rights Day against Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.
As the shouting participants of the rally were passing in front of a camp of a religious group, they got annoyed, eye-witnesses said.
"First, people of the two groups had an exchange of hot words which later converted into a physical brawl. They kicked and punched each other and set tires on fire and stoned each other. Shortly the vicinity was converted into a battle field," another eyewitness said without giving his name.
The religious group had set up a camp for collecting funds for Islamic militants in Indian-held Kashmir.
Panic and fear were the immediate reaction among shopkeepers and residents of the surrounding areas. The shopkeepers pulled their shutters, vehicles were driven away and vendors immediately disappeared from the scene.
Immediately after the trouble brewed up, contingents of the riot police along with ambulances rushed to the site. Witnesses said police used massive tear gas and ruthlessly charged the brawling participants of the rally and religious group with batons to disperse them.
The violence continued for one hour. Police took more than 30 people into custody while the injured were allowed to go after being treated at different hospitals in Islamabad. "Police have taken more than 30 people into custody but their fate is yet to be decided," a police Station said.
RAWA not attacked Kashmiri camp
NNI, December 12, 2000
ISLAMABAD (NNI): The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) Monday said its activists neither attacked Kashmiri camps nor desecrated the Holy Quran.
A RAWA statement claimed that the group organized a peaceful rally on the International Human Rights Day to condemn the gross human rights violations by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
It said a group Afghan and Kashmiri belonged to Lashkar-e-Taliban, Jamit-ul-Mujahadeen and Jaish, shouted slogans against RAWA and while using abusive languages, pelted stones and attacked the demonstrators with sticks.
It said the protesters, the security personnel and some male supporters of RAWA resisted in self-defense while police remained as mere spectators, used teargas and baton to disperse RAWA’s supporters and the demonstrators.
The group expressed surprise over reports that the RAWA people desecrated the Holy Quran and other religious books and described the report as baseless.
During the clash, the police arrested about 17 people from RAWA and dozens local Afghani resident. Around 25 people, majority of them women, were injured, and five in critical condition were rushed to hospital.
It said that three of the RAWA supporters are sill missing and it is expected that they have been arrested by the people at Kashmir camp whose whereabouts are unknown so far.
Afrasiab slams attack on human rights activists
The Frontier Post, December 20, 2000
PESHAWAR- The chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Afrasiab Khattak, has said that the attack on a rally staged by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) to mark human rights day comes as yet another example of intolerance in society.
In a statement issued here on Monday, Afrasiab Khattak said that it was clear that such assault, carried out in a crowded area could occur with official connivance. He accused the government of permitting religious extremists to attack the people attempting to draw the attention towards the human rights situation inside Afghanistan, and the position of women in particular.
He said that the violent attempt to break up the rally, causing injuries to dozens, was a reflection of worsening atmosphere face today by those struggling for the rights of the disadvantaged. He added the rally had come under severe attack from orthodox clergy. "But no attempt has been made to check the excess of such forces of obscurantism," he regretted.
The chairman of the HRCP demanded that those responsible for attacking the rally be penalized under law for their action. He also demanded that the cameraman of the RAWA, who had been held by the extremists, be freed with out any delay.
He said that the HRCP feared the continue failure on the part authorities to cheek the hatred unleashed by extremists, which would lead to a more dangerous situation in the future. The members of the orthodox clergy had been sufficiently emboldened to openly attack peaceful demonstrator, he maintained.
He said that even greater threat of violence would continue to lurk unless urgent steps were taken against those violating the law.
HRCP chief resent attack on RAWA rally
The News International, December 19, 2000
PESHAWAR: The attack on a rally of Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan to mark the human right day comes as yet another example of intolerance in the society, said Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson, Afrasiyab Khattak in a press release on Monday.
He said that it was clear that such assaults, carried out in a crowded area could occur only with the connivance of government. The government, is there fore, directly blamed for permitting an environment, to develop in which hundreds of people attempting to draw attention to the human rights situation inside Afghanistan and the position of women in particular could be attacked by a mob made up of religious workers.
The violent attempt to break up the rally, causing injures to dozens was a reflection of worsened atmosphere face today by those struggling for the rights of the disadvantaged class. These groups have come under severe attack from the clergy.
The HRCP chief demanded that those responsible for attacking the rally be penalised under law. The HRCP fears the continued failure on the part of authorities to check the hatred unleashed by extremist elements will lead to a still more dangerous situation in the future.
RAWA says fundamentalists defaming Islam
The Frontier Post, December 12, 2000
PESHAWAR-Revolutionary Association of the women of Afghanistan, RAWA on Monday claimed that the fundamentalists themselves defamed Islam by their criminal and inhuman acts and introduced it as a violence ridden religion to the people of the world.
According to a press release issued here on Monday, the Afghan women organisation further said that they were against any type of fundamentalism everywhere in the world. Their organisation did not advocate violence and believe in peaceful struggle.
We reject that RAWA started the clashes and attacked the comps, rather we counter attack just in self-defense.
We have valid and well grounded documents in form of films and photos showing that it were the fundamentalists that first attacked their peaceful demonstration.
We can present the said documents to any Pakistani authority in order to prove that we were the victims of the clashes. More than 25 people from RAWA, many of them are serious injured. Three of our supporters have been harshly beaten and injured.
We will register an FIR against the criminals within a few days. In addition, three of our supporters are still missing which we believe are in the custody of the attackers, thus their lives are in serious danger.
In our recent demonstration, besides other national traitors, the photo of Masoud and Rabbani were also crossed and inscribed with wanted.
The resolution of our demonstration also termed both the Taliban and their rivals responsible for the ongoing human rights violation in Afghanistan. But some reports claim that two thousands demonstrators were supporters of Masoud and the Northern Alliance they added.
"Our organisation has the experience of 20 years of struggle against the puppet regime of Russia and different types of fundamentalists.
Russian agents and the fundamentalists have always resorted to shameful and forged accusations and spared nothing to silence the voice of RAWA for freedom, democracy and women rights.
They will never be succeeded to stop our struggle and we will carry-on our struggle more resolute and determined till the annihilation of all fundamentalists and their flunkeys"; they added.
RAWA condemns fake allegations
The Nation, December 15, 2000PESHAWAR- The Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) has contradicted reports pertaining to disgrace of the Islamic books as well as attacking stalls of the hardliners on the eve of their peaceful rally in connection with the Universal Human Rights Day at Islamabad on Sunday last
From our correspondent
A spokeswoman of RAWA through a press release issued here on Wednesday informed that just for diverting the attention of the global forums and community towards human rights situation in Afghanistan, they arranged a peaceful demonstration.
The peaceful participations of the rally banners and placards inscribed with their demands on them but were attacked by the activists of extremist groups like Lashkar-i-Tayaba, Jesh-i-Mohammad, Harakatul Mujahideen and others.
RAWA was alleged that all such hard liners are associated through direct and indirect ways with their counterparts from Afghanistan who are nowadays camouflaging themselves in Taliban Tehrik.
Such elements are also being patronised by those agencies and functionaries of Pakistan who favour continuation of unrest in Afghanistan.
She further said that with the support and patronisation of their financiers, these hardliners have not only attacked the peaceful and innocent women but even for hiding their crimes, they themselves have disgraced the holy Quran and other religious books.
Such elements since a long have always been hiding their crimes under the sacred name of Islam, otherwise all of their acts are contrary to the Islamic norms.
They called upon the Muslims from all over the world to take notice of such acts as it damages the image of Islam amongst the global comity.
RAWA denies backing opposition against Taliban
The News International, December 12, 2000
PESHAWAR: The Revolutionary Women's Association of Afghanistan (RAWA) has defended itself against accusations that it was supporting the opposition Northern Alliance and Ahmad shah Masoud against the Taliban.
In a statement, it said its members and supporters carried anti-Masoud and anti Rabbani banners and posters during its Islamabad demonstration on December 10 and described them, along with the Taliban, as traitors. "The photos of Masoud and Rabbani were crossed and inscribed as "wanted". The resolution of yesterday's demonstration also clearly terms both Taliban and their rivals responsible for the ongoing human rights catastrophe in Afghanistan," it pointed out.
It complained that the police silently stood aside and made no effort to nab the attackers. Instead, the statement said the cops tear gassed and baton-charged the RAWA percussionists injuring 25, including women, and arresting another 17 plus some Afghan refugees living in the area. It said three RAWA supporters were missing and their lives were in danger. It denied that RAWA activists tore apart or set on fire copies of the Holy Quran and other religious books kept in a stall run by the attackers.
RAWA according to the statement, was opposed to fundamentalism in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world and had struggled for 20 years for its beliefs. It pledged to file an FIR against the attacker to seek justice. It also vowed to continue its struggle against human rights abuses in Afghanistan
RAWA denies act of sacrilege
KHYBER MALL, December 12, 2000
By staff reporter
PESHAWAR: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) has contradicted the news item, published in some segments of the press that RAWA and its supporters have torn apart and set on fire the copies of Holy Quran and other religious books.
In a press release issued here on Monday, they said that the fundamentalist attackers, in order to provoke the religious sentiments of the people had spread such rumors. They also denied that they did not first start the attack and skirmishes but counterattack just in self-defense.
The press release further stated that during the clash the police arrested about 17 people from RAWA and dozens local Afghans resident. Around 25 people, majority of them women, were injured, and five in critical condition to hospital, it added. They also claimed that three of their supporters were still missing, which they feared that they had been arrested by the fundamentalists whose whereabouts were unknown so far.
“In this connection, we are in the process to register FIR against the culprits,” it added.
The RAWA staged a demonstration on December 10, to observe the International Human Rights Day, in Islamabad to condemn the gross human rights violations by the Taliban and Jehadi fundamentalists in Afghanistan.
The demonstrators were attacked by some Jehadi groups at Karachi Company, resulting several injuries to both sides.
The RAWA press release claimed that the protesters, the security personnel and some male supporters of RAWA resisted in self-defense while police remained as silent spectators and did nothing but used teargas and baton to disperse RAWA supporters and the demonstrations.
It said that some newspapers report claimed that tow thousands demonstrators were supporters of Massoud and the Northern Alliance termed was fabricated and misleading.
RAWA has the experience of 20 years of struggle against the puppet regime of Russia and different types of the fundamentalists. Russian agents and fundamentalists have always resorted to shameful and forged accusations and spared nothing to make silent the just voice of RAWA from freedom, democracy and women’s rights. Nevertheless, they will never be succeeded to stop our struggle and we will carry on our struggle more resolute and determined till the annihilation of all fundamentalists and their flunkeys, the press release concluded.
[Home Page] [Report of the demonstration]
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Resolution of the RAWA rally: [English] [Persian]