Irna, Nov.10, 2001

Afghan women group calls for an end to military strikes

Brussels, Nov 10, IRNA -- A spokesperson for the 'Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan' (RAWA) called for an immediate stop to US-UK air strikes in Afghanistan.

''The bombings have increased the suffering of the people in Afghanistan. They must stop it at once,'' said Sabira Mateen in an interview here with IRNA.

Mateen, who is working in Afghan refugee camps inside Pakistan, was in Brussels to take part in a public hearing on 'Aid to the Afghans' held by the European Parliament on Wednesday 7 November.

EU Commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, Poul Nielson, Russian Deputy Minister Brazhnikv, numerous representatives of international governmental and non-governmental organisations working in the region, including the World Food Programme, as well as women's organisations and groups supporting Afghan women took part in the one-day meeting.

Mateen, a young girl, said she informed the European Parliament about the current situation in Afghanistan and prospects about the post-Taliban developments.

She said she did not think that the Taliban regime would collapse soon.

Mateen told IRNA that her group is in favour of the return of ex-king Zahir Shah.

Asked how a revolutionary group could support the return of a deposed king, Mateen explained that RAWA did not support monarchy.

It favoured Zahir Shah's return only as an interim solution till a democratic government was elected in Afghanistan.

She claimed that the people of Afghanistan ''are fed up with fundamentalist groups like the Taliban and the Northern Alliance'' and want a democratic government in the country.

RAWA which is banned both in Pakistan and Afghanistan has some 2,000 members, said Mateen.

She described the situation of Afghan refugees as ''appalling and miserable'' and said RAWA's activities focussed on education and micro-projects that could be carried out by the local population and their skills used.


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