RAWA statement on the occasion of International Women's Day, 2004

Women's emancipation is achievable only by themselves!

During the medieval and tyrannical rule of Taliban, the major international and Western media began and ended with a focus on women's oppression. It seemed as though this country would not have had a problem if all that torture and gradual death were not enforced on women and the Taliban had showed a little mercy! And when the US came out to punish her hirelings, the first and last word was about the abuse of women by Taliban -- even the flyers that were thrown by US military aircraft on cities contained photos that portrayed Taliban barbarism against women.

Of course after the US attack and installation of the interim government, raising women's banner steadily continued: the Women's Ministry and various other commissions were created and a few women became so-called "authorities". And now that two years have passed since these events, who is to deny the fact that the condition of 99 % of women in Afghanistan has not seen fundamental changes? There are no longer Taliban who lash women because their hair or feet came out of the Burqa. But how can women go out unveiled and have normal life without the fear of warlords who like hunting dogs annoy, insult and rape them?

Out of extreme suffocation and terror in Herat, grabbed in the filthy grip of the terrorist "amir" Ismail Khan, hundreds of girls and women have committed suicide by self-immolation in less than a year to free themselves from a painful life under the dagger of a corrupted and freedom-killing regime. The burnt bodies of these innocent victims keep the faces of Ismail Khan and his accomplices in "Northern Alliance" black with shame.

Despite the above dreadful realities, if talking about Afghanistan is confined only to abuse of women then in fact it is throwing dust into the eyes of the world. Regardless of the multitude of oppressions against women, men are also not free. If the Taliban are not in charge, their Jehadi brethren, the "Northern Alliance", embrace the power in the country. Hence if all these atrocities and disasters, i.e. the presence of fundamentalist warlords, are not rooted out from Afghanistan, no serious issues including freedom and prosperity of women and men can be solved even if more ministries and commission are created for women.

The freedom of a nation is to be achieved by itself -- similarly the real emancipation of women can be realized only by themselves. If that freedom is bestowed by others, it may be seized and violated any time.

The fake nature of the constitutional Loya Jirga and freedom of speech were clear to all the people of Afghanistan and the world by the cheap attacks of the assembly speaker, Sibghatullah Mojadadi, Sayyaf and elements of Fahim and Rabanni's forces on the women delegates, Malalai Joya and Anar Kali. Malalai Joya had the courage to call the fundamentalists "criminals", and asked for their national and international trial. But we saw that the treacherous murderers and their elements in the Jirga became so outraged that according to the confession of Sibghatullah Mojadadi, if they were not leashed what would they have done to Malalai Joya?! Our people know that in 1992 the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif gave 10 million to establish the Mujahadeen government and that Mojadidi distributed this cash to his relatives. Our people and the world also know that Rabanni, Sayyaf, Mansour, Chakari and others are symbols of blood, treason, and aggression. Not only had they occupied the front row of the assembly once more but with the gesture of the $10 million assembly speaker, were posing and speaking so shamelessly that they seemed to be the bride or kingpins of the assembly, not criminals that had infected the whole tent. The rude bullying of Sayyaf proved how much the Loya Jirga and its speaker had been infected by the germ of fundamentalism. What could be expected from such an infected assembly? To approve a democratic constitution that guarantees the elimination of the "Northern Alliance", Taliban, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Al_Qaida terrorism? And what happened? We now have a constitution that has nothing to guarantee the trial of warlord criminals, allows the misuse of religion, and has not abolished the various crimes against women in the name of religion and tradition. The Constitution is just a piece of paper that gives legitimacy to the tyrannical rule of warlords.

It is quite natural that the voter registration, particularly of women for the upcoming election may have the lowest possible figure. What value does an election have for the hopeless people who have no bread and no work and are being tormented by criminal fundamentalists? The presence of every woman and man in the future assemblies is meaningful only when they represent the people, and, like Malalai Joya, spit at the fundamentalists in their cage with courage and honor. Otherwise they should be called a cat's-paw of religious fascists and their accomplices. They would compromise and hunger for power, not to be forgiven by the people.

The experience of Iran has made it clear that democratic forces cannot achieve their goals within the framework of a brutal religious regime or relying on a so-called "moderate" regime. People and democratic forces in Iran paid a heavy price for their participation in the bloody game of an Islamic regime. Supporters of democratic forces in Afghanistan should have learned enough from Iran's example and should never make cease-fires or deal with this or that faction of fundamentalists. The only benchmark to measure the loyalty to freedom in a country is the degree of boldness, determination and honesty of a person or group in the struggle against religious fascism.

It is up to our conscious women that organize tens and hundreds of thousands of freedom-loving women and create a great anti-fundamentalism movement for democracy across this terrorism and fundamentalism blighted country. While organizing such a massive movement, we can play an effective role for women's emancipation on the basis of freedom of the country. Now we should no longer talk about a "silent majority", but an uprising, a decisive and aggressive majority, and translate our solidarity to the struggle of all freedom-loving women in the remote places of the world from words into practice.

While celebrating International Women's Day with all justice-seeking women of the world, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) sends warmest regards to all the freedom-loving women imprisoned in the torturous prison of Iran and Turkey. We wish that the women of Afghanistan celebrate this day in Afghanistan free of the fetters of fundamentalism and on the road to democracy and prosperity.

Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
March 8, 2004