RAWA Marks the 15th Martyrdom Anniversary of Meena
Reflection in Pakistani media

RAWA cautions UN, US against hardliners' plots

The Nation, Feb.5, 2002
From our Correspondent

PESHAWAR: The women activists mostly leaders and stalwarts of Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) while reaffirming their support to the global community regarding end to terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan, have urged the United States and United Nations to be aware of the plots being hatched against its plans by hardliners and fundamentalists.

"Afghans have rendered sacrifices not only against the former Red Army but also against terrorists and extremists just for their democratic rights, the RAWA leaders and their like-minded supporters from Pakistan while delivering detailed speeches said on the eve of a function held her at Green Hall on Monday. The gathering was arranged in connection with the 15th death anniversary of RAWA founder late Meena.

Besides the RAWA activists, a large number of men, women from all over Afghanistan and Pakistan also attended the gathering. The main objective of holding the programme was to highlight the role and contribution of late Meena for creating political awareness among women of Afghanistan who like of men have also rendered sacrifices in the armed struggle against former Soviet Union.

Apart from reaffirming their firm stand for eradication of terrorism and extremism through detailed speeches, RAWA declared, "there is no space for extremism, fundamentalisms and terrorism in Afghanistan. We demanded liberal, democratic and secular system in Afghanistan. Such a system would eradicate all sort of fundamentalist activities from the country."

Among the speakers who paid rich tribute to RAWA's founder late Meena included Ms. Mairman Perveen, first female singer of Afghanistan, Ms Mahbooba Jabbari, first female actress of Afghanistan were prominent. Whole from Pakistan included I. A Rehman, Director Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Ms Sheema Kirmani, women activist, dancer, and actress, professor Saleema Hashmi, Ms. Shahnaz Bukhari, Ms Neelam Ahmad Bashir, and Dr. Anne Brodsky Assistance Professor of Psychology and women studies. Whereas Saima Karim and Ms Sumaira of RAWA have welcomed the participations and described in depth their stance on recent development in Afghanistan.

Interesting events of the half day function were the national anthem of Afghanistan recited by the Afghan girls and boys students of local institutions both in Pushto and Dari languages, a number of poems recited in Dari languages and sketches whereas the RAWA activists have highlighted brutalities of the hard liners and fundamentalist in the last 23 years.

Through such sketches, they in particular highlighted violation of women rights by the warlords and their gun-totting supporters. Sheema Kirmani, a known women rightist and classical dancer through her art has also made an attempt to divert attentions of the brutalities against women by men.

The speakers in their speeches have reminded that after withdrawal of the former Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the former Mujahideen, particularly affiliated with the fundamentalist groups have not only blocked ways for democracy but even they indulged themselves in worst kind of human rights violation.

RAWA seeks world help for restoration of peace in Afghanistan

The Frontier Post, Feb.5, 2002
Saeed Alam Khan

PESHAWAR: The leaders of the Revolutionary Association Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) have asked the international community to help the people of Afghanistan in present crises and urged the interim government of Afghanistan to work for restoration of peace, women rights and democracy in the country.

These views were expressed by the speakers of RAWA in a function at a local hotel organized in connection to observe the of 15th death anniversary of Meena, the founding leader of RAWA.

She was assassinated on February 4, 1987.

The speakers said that Taliban came into power after the harsh attitude and continuous of civil war among various factions of Mujahideen and other warlords, which paved the way to terrorist activities in Afghanistan.

A RAWA member regretted that they had a lot of expectation from the present interim Afghanistan government saying that they would welcome the positive steps regarding restoration of peace, democracy and basic rights of the people of Afghanistan.

She accused the Taliban for demolishing historical statues, banning of women activities and their cruel attitude towards the people and said that women and men of Afghanistan would never allow dictator, religious and non-religious to rule Afghanistan again adding that democracy without secularism was incomplete.

The war-ravaged people of Afghanistan were tortured and killed since 23 years and there was no one to listen them, but when terrorists targeted Washington and New York then the champion of human rights realised to root out terrorism from the entire globe. RAWA member maintained.

Nighat Yasmin, a member of RAWA while speaking on the occasion said that organisation had never supported the atrocities and cruelties, whether committed by Taliban or other warlords in Afghanistan and said that they had also opposed US and its allied forces bombing on Afghanistan as that it would not only hit the targets of Taliban and Al Qaeda network but the war also force people of Afghanistan.

Criticizing the role of Pakistan she said that Pakistan had played a negative role and ever interfered in internal affairs of Afghanistan.

She demanded of the government to play its due role in rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

I.A.Rehman, ex-director Human Rights Commission of Pakistan while addressing the gathering paid rich tributes to Meena the founder leader of RAWA and demanded that all those who committed crimes and atrocities against humanity should be trailed.

He maintained that new Afghanistan was taking new shape therefore; the international community should come forward and help the people of Afghanistan.

He further said that RAWA should compete with the new challenge and work for ending of the old traditions in Afghanistan.

He condemned that tall claims of international human rights organisations and added that they had violated the charter of human rights.

Faryal Gohar, a well known TV star speaking on the occasion said that women of Afghanistan should work for maintaining peace, stabilility and restoration of democracy in Afghanistan and said that they had the capability to face the new challenges.

She informed that in the near future she would produce a new film on the women role in prevailing situation in Afghanistan.

Saleema Hashmi said that “ let us dream, work for peace in Afghanistan and demanded of the RAWA members to forge unity in their ranks and said that it was their duty to convey Meena message to their countrywomen” Dr Anne Brodsky, while expressing her views on this occasion admired the role of RAWA for its achievements and said that its workers should continue struggle for women rights.

Besides others; Shehnaz Bukhari, Raja Asad, Nelum Ahmad Bashir and Maryam Perveen also expressed their views on this occasion and highlighted the role of RAWA.

Afrasiab Khattak, Haji Muhammad Adil foreigners and numbers of workers of RAWA also participated in the function.

Democratic setup in Afghanistan demanded

DAWN, Feb.5, 2002
By Mohammed Riaz

PESHAWAR, Feb 4: The Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (Rawa) has urged Afghans to get rid of terrorists who have made the country a home to ignorance, diseases, poverty and unending violence at the behest of anti-people forces.

Speaking at the 15th death anniversary meeting of Rawa's President Meena, at a local hotel on Monday, the speakers paid glowing tribute to the courage and perseverance of Meena, who had founded a strong women organization to fight for the liberation of the country.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Executive Director I.A. Rehman, American sociologist Anne Brodsky, famous painter Saleema Hashmi, artistes Sheema Kirmani, Faryal Gohar, fiction writers Perveen Atif, Neelam Bashir and others threw light on the political struggle of Meena in a Mullah-ridden society.

Mr Rehman said after the Sept 11 attack on the US landmarks, the US leadership had shelved democratic and human rights values by resorting to carpet bombing on Afghanistan.

Sheema Kirmani also performed on the stage and recited some poems reflecting women's long struggle for their rights. She opposed the inhuman laws framed by the male rulers to oppress the women.

Faryal Gohar also praised the courage of Rawa women who, she said, had been following in the footsteps of Meena, a symbol of struggle and freedom in Afghan society.

Saleema Hashmi observed that the Rawa women would establish a society based on democracy, freedom and secularism in their war-torn country.

Dr Anne said: "The loss of lives on Sept 11 was a tragedy, I believe it is a greater tragedy that it took deaths on US soil to draw US and international attention to the terrorism that Afghanistan has experienced over the past decades and which has taken tens of thousands more lives than were lost in the US."

RAWA appeals to UN try Afghan warlords for war crimes

The Statesman, Feb.5, 2002

Peshawar: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan has demanded of the United Nations Organization and the international community to hold an impartial inquiry into the criminal activities of those Afghan warlords who have destroyed the country and killed thousands of people for their selfish motives.

Addressing the 15th martyrdom anniversary of Meena, the founding leader of the associations, here on Monday, the speakers said that the Afghan warlords had destroyed the country and massacred thousands of innocent Afghan for the fulfillment of their vested interests.

These people were neither sincere with Islam nor with the interests of their nations, they added.

"Gulbaddin, Rabbani, Sayyaf, Ahmad Shah Masood, Dostum, Mulla Omar and all the smaller Afghan warlords are war criminals and they should be trilled by an impartial international judicial commission for their heinous and detestable activities pursued during the last 23 years," they demanded.

They said that Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries had encouraged the so-called religious factions and the Taliban regime to play havoc with the lives of the Afghan people.

"Different people used the Afghan soil for the fulfillment of their hidden agenda. After the fall of the Taliban regime, the people hoped that they would see the dawn of their liberties, but it did not happen. The Bonn conference discouraged the Afghan people and shattered their dreams.

It did not study the Afghan imbroglio in its wider perspective and gave the reigns of power in the hands of such people who even did not know the meaning of human dignity and the sacredness of human rights.

The Northern Alliance is the most cruel and inhuman group that raped and brutally killed thousands of innocent women in their last tenure and violated human rights on a larger scale.

It will not be possible for them to give a stable and prosperous future to the suffering Afghans," they observed.

They maintained that only the establishment of a broad based representative government could pull the war torn country out of its present crisis. It was high time for the present rulers of Afghanistan to learn from the past bitter experience and give a chance to the real democratic elements of to lead the nation, they added.

"Let war be discouraged and democracy, freedom and women rights given chance for bringing some solace to the suffering Afghans.

The world should consider that the warlords are once again flexing their muscles and the outbreak of a new civil war on the Afghan soil cannot be ruled out," they feared.

The speakers paid glowing tributes to Meena, their late patron, and pledged to continue their struggle for the realization of her dream of democracy, liberty and women's rights.

Speaking on this occasion, I A Rehman, the executive director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that before taking any steps for holding the general elections in Afghanistan all the Afghan war criminals should be brought to justice.

It was in the larger interest of all the nations to refrain from any further interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and leave the Afghan people to reconstruct their country according to their own dreams and wishes, he added.

Paying tributes to Meena, he said that she was a true leader of the Afghan women who gave a new vision of liberty to them and prepared them for a practical struggle against all sorts of atrocities and oppression.

Apart from others, Nighat Saeed Khan, Dean, Institute of Women Studies, Islamabad, Dr. Anne Brodsky, a professor of psychology in America, Faryal Gohar, the popular television and film actress, Saleema Hashmi and Neelam Ahmad Bashir addressed the anniversary gathering and appreciated the struggle of the association for the protection of the rights of the Afghan women.

Marimam Parveen, the first singer of the Afghanistan Radio, expressed her views about the problems of the Afghan women in their historical perspective and thanked the Pakistani nation for their meritorious services to the Afghan refugees in their critical hour.

Sheema Kirmani, the famous dancer and performer, presented a poem on the pitiable condition of the Afghan women and got great applause from the audience.

Meena remembered
RAWA pledges struggle for rights

Khyber Mail, Feb.5, 2002
By Ziaul Haq

PESHAWAR: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) has vowed to continue the struggle for freedom, democracy and women rights as envisioned by its late founder Meena.

The activists of RAWA made this pledge at a grand function organized by the organization to observe 15th anniversary of Meena at Green Marriage Hall, Peshawar on Monday.

Besides some Pakistani speakers, large number of Afghan females has participated in the function to commemorate the anniversary of the RAWA founder. The function was not restricted to speeches, but songs based Afghan women rights and freedom and dances of Sheema Kirmani, dance teacher depicting the 20 years miseries of Afghan women and long struggle for their rights were the main feature of the event.

Those who spoke on the occasion were Mr. Marmam Parveen, female singer of Afghanistan, Mehbooba Jabari female actress of Afghanistan, I.A Rahman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Ms. Sheema Kirmani, women's activist, dancer, actress, dance teacher Tehrik-e-Niswan, Dr. Anne Brodsky Assistant Professor of Psychology and Women's studies, Ms. Nighat Said Khan, Dean of studies, Institute of Women's Wtudies, Lahore and executive director ASR, professor Saleema Hashimi, an artist, Ms. Shahnaz Bukhari, chief coordinator, Progressive Women's Association, Ms. Neelam Ahmad Bashir, fiction writer, Ms. Parvin Atif, fiction writer, Faryal Gohar and others.

Afghan female speakers, who hide their identity, speaking on the occasion paid rich tribute to the late Meena and pledged to continue the struggle, started the female founder of the organization.

They highlighted the struggle of their organization and said, it has launched vigorous campaign against the aggressive powers since the inception of the organization. They have criticized the Russia occupation over Afghanistan, formation of government of Jihadi organizations in early 90's and Taliban emergence and their rigid policies.

They were also critical about the United States attack on Afghanistan for the elimination of Al-Qaeda network and said that it has put the innocent people of the country into trouble and caused huge losses of properties and lives.

They castigated the role of Pakistan, what they though played by it since 1970 and said its approach was negative and alleged that all the time, it adopted diplomatic approach for the Afghanistan. They pointed out that Afghanistan is passing through a very critical stage and urged all the Afghan nations to stand unit for the rehabilitation of the country.

They hailed the policies of the interim head of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai towards females and said in present circumstances his policies for the betterment of Afghanistan women is encouraging.

Ms. Shahnaz Bukhari, chief coordinator, progressive women's association said people of Afghanistan and Pakistan especially the inhabitants of NWFP shared the same values, traditions and culture. She said, the geography could not separate them as their relationship is centuries old.

She was the lone speaker, who talked about the support extended by the people of Pakistan extended to Afghan nationals and provided refuge to them. She said, people of Pakistan deserved full appreciation as during the Afghan war, they opened their doors for the Afghan nationals and shared food and everything with the.

I.A Rahman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has demanded that those who have committed atrocities in Afghanistan should be tried in court of law.

He urged the Afghan people to forget the differences in their ranks and play role for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country.

'Afghan changes lack people's aspirations', I.A. Rehman

The News International, Feb.5, 2002
By Syed Bukhar Shah

A photo of the function published in The News, Feb.5, 2002

Published in The News, Feb.5, 2002
PESHAWAR: Almost all Afghan women speakers and activists of various Pakistani NGOs paid glowing tributes to the late founding leader of Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and reiterated their commitment to follow the golden principles of their late leader, Meena.

They vowed to achieve her mission for which she rendered the sacrifice of her life. Referring to the jam-packed hall of the Green Shadi Hall here on Monday, the speakers said: "Meena is not dead. She was alive in the past. She is alive today, and will remain alive in future. All of us are Meena and we will continue her mission till the achievement of her goal."

The RAWA members, majority of them women, came to pay tributes to their leader, who was allegedly killed by jihadi organisations. Big banners inscribed with different slogans had been displayed in and around the hall. The proceedings of the meeting were held under two big smiling portraits of Meena.

Speakers highlighted the aims and objectives of their organisation while students of RAWA-run schools presented various national songs and revolutionary poems, majority of them in Dari language.

Prominent intellectuals, writers, singers, artists and people belonging to various walks of life from Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi besides Peshawar and Afghanistan attended the anniversary. Chairman Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Afrasiab Khattak, former deputy speaker NWFP Assembly and central Awami National Party leader Haji Mohammad Adeel and some foreigners were prominent among the participants.

The organizers announced that it was impossible for them to read thousands of messages, which they received from personalities throughout the world. However, the representative of Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party was allowed to ready the message of party chief Afzal Khamoosh.

The participants accorded standing ovation to Ms Sheema Kirmani for her excellent presentation and her poem in English. The aging Mairmum Parveen and Ms Mehbooba Jabbari were also treated the same way when they were invited to the stage and presented a bouquet for their historic art. One of the RAWA members translated the poem by Nisha Mir Chandani Sakhrani from India. Dr Anne Brodsky, Ms Saleema Hashimi, prominent intellectual I A Rehman, Nighat Said Khan from ASR, Raja Asad, Ms Neelaum Ahmad Bashir and renowned artist and human rights activist Faryal Gohar beside RAWA members addressed the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, I A Rehman said they had been demanding trial of all those elements, who had ruined Afghanistan and its people. He said though changes were brought in Afghanistan but these were not according to the aspirations of its people. In present Afghanistan, he said, every decision has been imposed from abroad.

He said the people of Afghanistan would have to reconstruct their country themselves. In the present situation where new loyalists are emerging, the responsibilities of Afghans are increasing because the reactionary forces would emerge in new forms. He said they would have to continue constant struggle to fight against the old traditions.

He assured that democracy loving and those working for human rights besides secular forces would continue to support them in their just cause. Sheema Kirmani, who first presented a dialogue between two women by performing on the stage and then said in loud voice, "I am a woman. I am a perfect woman. I am a daughter. I am a mother. I am a sister, a wife."

In her detailed dialogue, she asked the participants as to who had made these laws. She highlighted the injustices with women and pledged to continue struggle for their rights by adding women could not be defeated.

Nighat Said Khan said Meena had launched her struggle against Soviet's invasion on Afghanistan and continued work for women's rights during war among various warring factions, jihadi organisations and Taliban. She said though Taliban's government had been removed but the mind was still there. She criticized what she termed the negative role of Pakistan in Afghanistan since 1970. She said the people of Pakistan had adopted silence when Russia attacked Afghanistan, when Taliban ruled that country and when America bombed Afghanistan. They are still silent, when Americans are demanding Pakistani airports.

Faryal Gohar briefly spoke in Persian, Pushto, English and then in Urdu, saying, "She is all Meena. The new Afghanistan will be your Afghanistan and mine. My first film based on a woman, who was killed by her father and she was from Afghanistan. Such woman cannot die, she added.

The report of the event was published in almost all Urdu and Pushto newspapers of Pakistan.

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