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RAWA's statement on International Women's Day, March 8,1999
Commemorate March 8 With Intensified Struggle to End the Human Rights Disaster in Afghanistan!
While the people around the globe are gearing to celebrate the last International Women’s Day of the twentieth century, Afghan women live under hellish conditions imposed on them by the Taliban, making them some of the most deprived women in the world. Whatever you may have heard or witnessed about oppression, humiliation, and deprivation of women is fully imposed on our ill-fated women.
Khalqi and Parchami traitors sought to entrap, misguide, and politically and propagandistically exploit our women. Since Jehadi criminals’ takeover in Kabul, however, our women have been enchained and depravedly victimized in a way unprecedented in the history of any country. Today, with shameless backing of their foreign masters, Taliban consider it their first duty to deny our women their most basic rights and keep them in medieval fetters. Cynically exploiting popular beliefs they justify their ever increasing pressure on women in the name of Islam and Sharia.
While the rest of the world is set to welcome the twenty-first century, in Afghanistan television, music, film, theatre, sport –in short all the manifestations of modern civilized life– are being stamped out by the Taliban; while the women’s movement is making significant gains worldwide, our women are deprived of the most elementary rights. Indeed, they are bought and sold like cattle, humiliated, whipped, beaten, restricted in their movements, and are considered to have little worth other than satisfying male sexual needs and bearing children. Fascistic restrictions, starvation, scarcity, homelessness, unemployment, war and destruction –all gifts from Taliban and Jihadis– have so darkened the lives of our people and specially women folk that large numbers have turned to beggary, prostitution and suicide. It is a measure of the depth of the tragedy created by the fundamentalists that many desperate mothers and fathers have, out of poverty and necessity, been reduced to selling their children.
Women’s oppression and suffering in Afghanistan today is of an entirely different magnitude. While women in the rest of the world are justly demanding full equality with men, elimination of patriarchal chauvinism in the family and society, end to a heinous crime as female circumcision, reproductive freedom and etc. Afghan women have to fight for least basic rights such as going to the bath house, working outside the home, getting an education or choosing a dress. It is for this reason that we insist on the complete overthrow of the fundamentalist order. Only then can our women join their sisters in the rest of the world for the attainment of higher freedoms.
Glaring violations of human rights in Afghanistan today is still more intolerable as many organizations claiming to defend human and women’s rights remain deafeningly silent regarding the situation. At best they limit their efforts to merely issuing proclamations and at worst see unity among fundamentalist forces as the only way to solving the situation in Afghanistan. No settlement, including multi-ethnic broad based government as is being trumpeted these days by America, Pakistan and other countries, to end the Afghan tragedy will be acceptable to our people if it does not consider fundamentalist murderers as criminals. After all, if in other nations certain individuals are as war criminals there is no reason why fundamentalist and Taliban warlords who have committed more heinous and barbaric crimes against our people should not meet the same fate?
The people of Afghanistan, like all peoples of the world, need peace, freedom, and democracy. Achieving even a semblance of these under Taliban and Jehadi rule is wishful thinking. After all, they recognize peace to be the end of their money-making business and openly equate democracy with infidelity. Unfortunately, the United Nations and kindred organizations have chosen to deliberately ignore the issues of democracy and women’s rights in Afghanistan and indeed actively omit these notions of plans to ending the Afghan tragedy. But the vast majority of our people, including women, paying no heed to fundamentalist ideologies and will surely travel the path that ends up in freedom and democracy.
The noise about differences between Taliban and their protectors over the Osama affair is a transparent attempt at creating the deceptive impression that Taliban are indeed “independent” of their foreign masters! But everyone knows that the survival and sustenance of these mediaeval-minded hypocrites is impossible without the generous support and guidance of world and regional powers and their intelligence services. These powers are capable of determining the fate of the Taliban whenever they wish, in the same manner, for example, they did of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and other no more useful “leaders”. Osama is himself, however, the filthy by-product of the policy of befriending and generously supporting Islamic fundamentalist forces during the Afghan anti-Russian war.
RAWA, though besieged and threatened on all sides, will continue with its struggle for freedom, democracy, and social justice. It demands that, keeping in mind the great pain and suffering of our ruined people, freedom-loving organizations and individuals abandon their neutrality and passivity vis-a-vis the fundamentalists and, at whatever level and with whatever means, resist Taliban and Jehadi barbaric rule. We have full faith that only unity of democratic forces, to rally to mobilize the masses for the formation of a broad anti-fundamentalist front, can guarantee the establishment of peace and democracy in our country.
Once more we ask that human rights and women’s rights organizations around the world and especially in Pakistan not forget the desperate plight of Afghan women, convey the extent of their sufferings to world audiences, and extend to them effective and practical assistance.
RAWA, in its turn, conveys its deep support for and solidarity with the heroic struggle of women and freedom-loving forces in Iran, Palestine, Kashmir, Kurdistan and throughout the world against reactionary and oppressive forces and states.
Let us mark International Women’s Day with intensified struggle
Down with Jehadi and Taliban murderers and their protectors!
Long live freedom and democracy!
Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
March 8, 1999 - Peshawar