DAWN, April 7, 2005

‘Afghan govt failed to check HR abuses’
By Our Staff Reporter

Click here for more photos and report of RAWA seminar

RAWALPINDI, April 6: The Afghan government has failed to provide security, freedom, education and health-care facilities to the people resulting in gross human rights violations, especially of women, in the conflict-stricken country.

This was stated by Maryam Rawi, a representative of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), at a seminar on “Promoting the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence in Anti-Fundamentalist Fight” at a local hotel on Wednesday.

She said after winning elections, Afghan President Hamid Karzai turned his back to on the people. He betrayed the people’s trust by relying on Sayyaf, Rabbani, Karim Khalili, Ismael Khan, Dr. Abdullah, Dostam, and other warlords and included a few fundamentalist women in his coalition government, she said, adding that very little has changed in her country.

She said innocent people were killed as a result of the private armies of warlords and infighting between different groups.

She said the continuing insecurity in Afghanistan undermined women’s rights and safety. In the absence of a centralized, transparent and effective system of justice, she added, women continued to suffer human rights abuses.

She said women and girls were being trafficked into prostitution. They are being forced into marriages, often to settle family debts or disputes, and imprisoned if they refused such wedlock. She claimed that more than 60 women had committed self-immolation since January to avoid forced marriages.

Ms. Rawi also complained about lack of freedom of speech, association and movement. She termed the rulers’ claims of free media a mockery, saying none was able to talk or write about any of the warlords.

She said opium cultivation had increased rapidly since 2001. Afghanistan now produces 87 percent of the world’s supply of opium resulting in a dramatic increase in drug trade which is a shame for the Karzai government, she added. She said NGOs had misused millions of dollars in the name of reducing poppy cultivation, but there was no accountability. She also criticized the reconstruction process and said it was very slow and not benefited the people.

A lion’s share of the foreign aid is grabbed by warlords working on high posts in the US-backed government, she alleged.

The Nation, April 8, 2005

Seminar participants demand peace in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD - Revolution Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) organized a four-day seminar on "Promoting the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence in Anti-Fundamentalist fight" here Thursday.

The concluding session comprised of different cultural activities like patriotic songs, painting exhibition, a stage drama, national dance by RAWA students and screening of documentaries on Afghan women.

The participants were mainly women who had come from Quetta, Peshawar refugee camps, Haripur, Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi. They belonged to different walks of life like teachers, students, staff at RAWA hospital and housewives. They represented various ethnics groups from different regions of Afghanistan.

On first day of the seminar, representatives from RAWA, IWDA, RAWA's Italian support group and Pakistani guests introduced the theme of the seminar.

The second day activities consisted of a variety of activities including workshop on the theme, "Women, the prime and easiest victims of war and violence" and the third day was a workshop on "Women in forefront of fight for peace, freedom and secular democracy."

The fourth day of the seminar was the day of cultural programmes by students of RAWA's school and orphanages.

The participants demanded that peace and security in Afghanistan would be a first step towards an end to large-scale violence that needs indiscriminate disarmament of almost 2000 private militias.

They urged radical changes in the government and demanded the removal of warlords from their official positions.

The speakers in the seminar castigated the different forms of violence against women and asked that these should be eliminated and women must be provided with legal protection.

They strongly condemned the abduction of children and violence against them.

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