Press Coverage of the RAWA protest rally on IHRD
December 10, 2002 - Islamabad

Afghan Refugees Protest Human Rights Abuses

VOA, 10 Dec 2002
Ayaz Gul - Islamabad

Hundreds of Afghan refugees have demonstrated outside the United Nations office in Islamabad against human rights abuses in Afghanistan. The protest comes as the Afghan minister for refugees arrived in Islamabad to discuss repatriating Afghans living in Pakistan.

The demonstrators chant "long live democracy, long live freedom and down with fundamentalism." These several hundred mostly Afghan women and children do not want to go back home, saying they are afraid. Some are dressed in shrouds, naming Afghan warlords they said killed their loved ones.

The Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) staged Tuesday's protest to coincide with international human rights day.

Marina Tareen is a senior member of the Afghan rights group and says conditions are not safe for these people to go home. She criticized the United States and its allies for allowing leaders of Afghanistan's factional Northern Alliance to take power after the war on terrorism dislodged the Islamic fundamentalist Taleban. Ms. Tareen asserts that life in areas controlled by the Northern Alliance is not any better than under the previous leaders.

"We want to tell the world and we want to use this opportunity to give this awareness to the world community that by changing the people we cannot change the system. There must by a basic change. We want the world community, we want the United Nations to control Afghanistan. We want first of all the disarmament of all the warring factions because the war is still going on because there are different warring factions in the power and each one of them is thirsty for power," Ms. Tareen said.

She said her group has not witnessed any signs of stability, security, end of war or reconstruction since the fall of the Taleban. Another demonstrator, Ms. Hamasa, expressed similar concerns.

She said that most of the current Afghan rulers are the same thieves of the past. She said that by removing the turban and wearing the neckties does not change their character.

The demonstrators handed a statement to the U.N. officials urging the international community to make its aid to Afghanistan contingent on action against violators of human rights. It also urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to take action against the corrupt elements and Islamic militants in his government.

The protest comes as Afghan Refugees Minister Enayatullah Nazari arrived in Islamabad Tuesday to discuss the on-going repatriation efforts. More than a million Afghan refugees are still living in Pakistan and the United Nations is assisting with their voluntary return.

On UN Human Rights Day women say little has changed

IRIN (, Dec.10, 2002
Reprinted in The Statesman on the same date

ISLAMABAD, 10 Dec 2002 (IRIN) - "We thought that that the fall of Taliban will herald new changes, but all the warlords and Jihadis have returned to power," Hammasa Maiwandi told IRIN on Tuesday in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

The 35-year-old Afghan refugee was protesting against the rise to political power of Afghan warlords, many of whom have been accused of human rights abuses. The demonstration was called to mark UN Human Rights Day and was organised by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).

While chanting slogans against human rights violations, many of the hundreds of Afghan men, women and children participating in the procession had similar stories. "The children you see here are mostly fatherless like my son," she maintained. "We want the world to listen to us today not to the warlords as they have been doing over the past year," she added. Founded in 1977 RAWA is an Afghan women's political organisation working to promote freedom and democracy in the country.

As a long-time member of RAWA, Maiwandi fled the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad in 1996 when the Taliban took over the city after months of fighting. Although the Taliban's harsh regime ended a year ago she is still reluctant to go back to Afghanistan. "If they can kill innocent university students where do other people stand?" she asked, refering to demonstrating students killed by security forces last month in Kabul.

The marchers said the fall of the Taliban had just replaced one set of tyrants with another. "Human rights are trampled over around the world but it is worse in Afghanistan," RAWA spokeswomen, Tehmina Faryal told IRIN. "Our major concern is the return of the fundamentalists - mainly the Northern Alliance - who are more bloody and hostile to human rights."

Faryal maintained that women were not safe in post Taliban-Afghanistan. "With warlords controlling the country, assaults on women continue and the religious tyrants are reasserting themselves," she said, adding that the UN should take practical steps to improve the human rights situation in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in a report published last week, global human rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW), has pointed to serious impediments to protecting human rights and creating security in war-ravaged Afghanistan one year after the UN-brokered Bonn agreement. The US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan have come under particular scrutiny for empowering regional warlords in the fight against the Taliban and Al-qaeda forces. Lack of security outside Kabul has also allowed provincial strongmen to go unchecked and in some cases ignore human rights issues.

"One year later, the Bonn Agreement still embodies Afghanistan's best chance for putting an end to chronic instability, violence and a history of massive human rights abuses," Brad Adams, head of HRW's Asia department said. "Yet many of the agreement's promises have not been fulfilled in the last year. The international community has missed several good opportunities to sideline local military rulers and to better promote security and the protection of human rights," he added.

Human Rights Day: RAWA stages protest in front of UN office

DAWN, Dec.10, 2002
By Our Reporter

ISLAMABAD, Dec 10: Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) on the eve of Human Rights Day on Tuesday staged a protest demonstration in front of the United Nations office demanding restoration of democracy in Afghanistan.

Around 500 people including men, women and children chanted slogans against both Talibans and the Northern Alliance rulers and called upon the US-led forces in Afghanistan to disarm the warring factions so that normalcy could return to the war ravaged country.

Mareena of RAWA talking to newsmen present on the occasion criticized the western powers including the US for prolonging the Afghanistan crisis for their own vested interests.

"If they (the US-led forces) can thrash well-armed Taliban regime within no time than why not the warring factions which are still occupying most of Afghanistan except Kabul and its surroundings," she added.

Ms Mareena said, at present, Karzai's government had no writ in the country and most of its provinces were being controlled by powerful warlords.

She maintained that Northern Alliance people were more hostile to human rights than their predecessors and should be removed from government. The Northern Alliance held power from 1992 to 1996 and during the time brutalities committed by the alliance reached such a level that the people of Afghanistan forgot the "bombardment and mass executions by the Russian invaders and their Parchami servants", she added.

A press release distributed among mediamen present on the occasion also lambasted the killings of two Kabul University students, Ghafar and Rahim, and termed the incident as disgracing scar on the forehead of the fundamentalists and their accomplices which showed the fragility of the present government.

It said by merely creating various commissions and representation of women as minister would do no good to the ill-fated women of the war-torn country.

HR observance remains an illusion and a dream: RAWA

NNI, Dec.10, 2002
Reprinted in The Pakistan Observer and The Nation

ISLAMABAD, Dec 11 (NNI): On the Human Rights Day on Tuesday, The Afghan women's organization has said that the Human Rights observance will remain an illusion as well as a dream unless the fundamentalists are totally eliminated from Afghanistan's soil.

In a statement sent to NNI Tuesday morning RAWA said, "For one year the world watched Afghanistan to see how the collapse of the Taliban destructors might be followed by an anti-Taliban and anti religious tyranny government. But the entire hopes and aspirations of our freedom-loving people and the people of the world turned to illusion and despair when they saw that the power in Afghanistan had been given by the US and its allies to the "Northern Alliance" destructors -fundamentalists who are more bloody, unchaste and hostile to human rights.

The "Northern Alliance" had its test from 1992 to 1996. It is barely enough to say that the brutalities and roguery of the Jehadi gangs during those darkest years of Afghan history reached to such a level that our people forgot the bombardments, mass executions, and the bloody stifling era of the Russian invaders and their Parchami servants.

Thus, there is no place for any surprise that during the past year we haven't witnessed any significant signs of stability, end of war, security or the reconstruction of life and economy in the country. Quite the contrary, now the world community also has realized that due to the dominance of professional criminals in government, the gruesome examples of human rights violations, assaults on women, the ghastly shadow of religious tyranny, the fanning of religious and ethnic differences, and the rule of the puppet warlords still prevail in Afghanistan.

The demonstration of Kabul University students was answered by bullets as a result of which the blood of Ghafar and Rahim and others was shed. The incident, which is a disgracing scar on the forehead of the fundamentalists and their accomplices, shows by itself how fragile and untrustworthy is this government that gets embarrassed and frightened just by a single demonstration for the provision of water, electricity and food.

From the very beginning of Karzai's appearance on the scene, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) has warned that the domination of the "Northern Alliance" tarnishes this government's image. By merely creating various commissions and the presentation of this or that woman as a minister or chief and so on and so forth, nothing will proceed. It is only by the rejection and then the trial of the fundamentalists that our people, particularly our ill-fated women, will feel secure and calm and that the rebuilding of the grave-filled Afghanistan can become practical.

The US and the West are talking about the war against terrorism and even that their efforts have been a relative success and achievement. However, almost daily terrorist operations, the murdering of two ministers and the attempt upon Karzai's life, the continuation of unchastity and robbery, the dog-fighting between the warlords and the standstill position of reconstruction process, etc. prove their claims wrong. They must know that the terrorism of Al-Qaida and its brethren, whether in Afghanistan or in the world, won't be annihilated unless they stop supporting fundamentalist governments and groups in every nook and corner of the globe and, instead, sincerely support the democracy-loving forces. And in the first step towards this they should put an end to their support of the Jehadi criminals in Afghanistan.

Mr.Karzai makes hue and cry in requesting assistance from the West. But he doesn't think about the presence of the corrupt and Jehadi elements in his regime. The world community must pay the utmost attention to the fact that every kind of financial aid to the Afghan government- so dominated as it is by the "Northern Alliance" bands - mainly will be used to fill the pockets of the fundamentalist leaders, keep their war machines going and their heroin business flourishing.

Among other things, the writing of the Constitution and holding of elections were also parts of Karzai's promises. However, as far as he, unfortunately, is a hostage of "Jamiat Islami" and their "brethren" criminals and as far as the grisly shadow of these traitors still hovers over our people, the said promises will remain just as pretty sayings and words until and unless the Jehadi heads are put on trial. And the Constitution, in reality, will be just for the authentication and legalization of their treasons and blood sovereignty. Our people have the Loya Jirga before their eyes and they know well how it turned into a scene of power showdown and a means of imposing the fundamentalist wishes and whims through the presence of these murderers and rapists of mothers of seventy and small girls of seven. And the situation will not get any better than this undemocratic and agent-filled Loya Jirga if the "Northern Alliance" continues to maintain its filthy existence outside of the grip of the courts of law.

The past 23-year experience has showed that the governments of the US and the West mainly consider their own political interests in their approach and stand towards human rights. After the terrorist incident of 11th September, the reinstating of the religious criminals in Afghanistan is the most crystal clear example of the West's inattention and heedlessness towards human rights, women's rights and democracy in our country. How can one expect such treacherous elements to become "human" and "civilized"?

Afghans protest HR abuses by warlords

The Statesman, Dec.10, 2002
Statesman Report

ISLAMABAD: Afghan refugee families Tuesday held a protest demonstration in front of United Nation office here, to condemn the continued violation of human rights by the Northern Alliance forces and the warlords.

Afghans mostly orphans, participated in the demo, organized by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) to mark the International Human Rights Day.

The slogan-chanting protests were carrying placards and banners, inscribed with slogans "compromise with criminals is a treachery with Afghan nation", "solution to Afghan problem: fundamentalism or democracy?", "we want democracy" etc.

The orphans also sand a song on the occasion, holding warlords and mujahideen leader responsible for the massacre of their families.

"The protest rally is organized to convey a message to the world that fundamentalists still rule the country," RAWA spokesperson Marina Tareen said while addressing the protesters.

She said accession of the criminal Northern Alliance forces to power with US backing, had dashed their hopes of return to peace to the ground.

"We have not seen any sign of stability. Security, peace or revival of economy since the fall of Taliban," she said, adding "the Northern Alliance dominated interim government is worse than Taliban rule."

"if the international community can topple Taliban militia, which they considered dangerous for the world peace, then why these criminals (warlords) involved in serious violations of human rights are allowed to rule," she questioned.

"RAWA had warned President Hamid Karzai in the very start of his rule the dominance of professional criminals in his cabinet will tarnish his government's image," she recalled.

The killing of a number of students during a shoot out in the Kabul University was an ample proof of the fact that how fragile and helpless Karzai government was, she added.

A RAWA statement handed over to the UN officials on the occasion said it was no surprise that the US and the West rated their war against terrorism in Afghanistan "a relative success" only.

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