Unity of democratic forces vital to Afghan peace: RAWA
The Frontier Post, March 9,1999 By SYED BUKHAR SHAH
PESHAWAR - The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) declared Monday that the unity of democratic forces to moblise the masses for a broad anti-fundamentalist front could guarantee peace and democracy in Afghanistan.
Reiterating their commitment to continue their struggle till the achievement of their goal, the RAWA also extended its full support to the women and freedom loving forces in Iran, Palestine, Kashmir, Kurdistan and throughout the world against reactionary and oppressive forces and states. This declaration was made at the end of a function organised by the RAWA at the Nishtar Hall in Peshawar.
The function, besides a large number of Afghan nationals, was attended by local political workers and social organisations activists. The federal minister for population and social welfare, Syeda Abida Hussain, was the chief guest on the occasion, but she did not turn up. Big banners inscribed with slogans in favour of women activists and against Afghanistan's Taliban Militia were displaced in the hall. Minor Afghan children highlighted the miseries of their nation besides presenting national songs and skits.
The function, besides the RAWA members was addressed by the provincial chief of the Pakistan Awami Party, Fanoos Gujar, provincial leader of the Pakhtunkhwa Qaumi Party, Qaisar Khan advocate, provincial chief of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party and Afzal Khamosh, who also delivered the message of the Tehrik-e-Istiqlal chief, Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Khan, extending full support to the RAWA in its struggle against dictators. Almost all the young female members of the RAWA delivered their speeches in Persian, criticising the Taliban's policies towards women in Afghanistan. All the female Afghan speakers had been invited to deliver their speeches as "members of the RAWA", for the sake of hiding their identity for security reasons.
They said that the Afghan women lived under hellish conditions imposed on them by the Taliban, making them some of the most deprived women in the world.
In its declaration, the RAWA said, "While the rest of the world is set to welcome the 21st century, in Afghanistan television, music, film, theatre, sport-in short all the manifestations of modern civilised life-are being stamped out by Taliban. While the women movement is making significant gains worldwide, our women are deprived of the most elementary rights. Indeed they are bought and sold like cattle, humiliated, shipped, beaten, restricted in their movements and considered to have little worth other than satisfying the male sexual needs and bearing children. Fascistic restrictions, starvation, scarcity, homelessness, unemployment, war and destruction-all gifts from the Taliban and the Jihadis-have so darkened the lives of our people, specially women, that large numbers have turned to beggary, prostitution and suicide. It is a tragedy created by fundamentalists that many desperate mothers and fathers have, out of poverty and necessity, been compelled to selling their children".
The RAWA members observed that women in the rest of the world were demanding full equality with men, elimination of patriarchal chauvinism in the family and society, end to the heinous crime of female circumcision, reproductive freedom, while Afghan women had to fight for the basic rights such as going to the bath house, working outside home, getting education or choosing a dress. That is why the Afghan women insisted on the complete overthrow of the fundamentalist order. Only then could they join their sisters in the rest of the world for the attainment of higher freedom.
They continued, "The people of Afghanistan, like all the peoples of the world, need peace, freedom, and democracy. Achieving even a semblance of these under the Taliban and the Jehadi rule is wishful thinking. After all, they recognise peace to be the end of their moneymaking business and openly equate democracy with infidelity. Unfortunately, the UN and kindred organisations have chosen to deliberately ignore the issues of democracy and women rights in Afghanistan, but the vast majority of our people, including women, are paying no heed to fundamentalist ideologies and will surely travel the path that ends up in freedom and democracy".
The declaration continued, "The survival and sustenance of these mediaeval-minded hypocrites is impossible without the generous support and guidance of the world and regional powers and their intelligence services. These power are capable of determining the fate of the Taliban whenever they wish in the same manner, for example, as they did with Gulbadin Hekmatyar and other no more useful "leaders". Osama is himself the filthy by-product of the policy of befriending and generously supporting the Islamic fundamentalist forces during the Afghan anti-Russia war".
"The RAWA, though besieged and threatened on all sides, will continue with its struggle for freedom, democracy, and social justice. It demands that freedom loving organisations and individuals abandon their neutrality and passivity vis-a-vis the fundamentalists and, at whatever level and with whatever means, resist the Taliban and the Jehadi barbaric rule," it said, appealing to the human rights and women's rights organisations throughout the world, especially in Pakistan, not to forget the desperate plight of the Afghan women and extend to them effective and practical assistance.
The provincial leaders of the PAP, PMKP and PQP, in their speeches, highlighting the miseries of the Afghan women, expressed concern over the deteriorating situation of women and men in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Extending their parties' support to the Afghan women, they termed them as part of the same body. They would have to launch an organised movement against the usurpers and present outdated system for the better future of the common people, they vowed.
Government accused of meddling in Afghanistan
The News International, March 9,1999 By Ayesha Shaheen
PESHAWAR: Accusing the Pakistan government of meddling in the affairs of Afghanistan, speakers at an International Women's Day function here on Monday demanded that the Afghans should be left on their own to work for restoration of peace and democracy in their country.
"Pakistan is equally responsible for what is happening to women in Afghanistan," alleged Saima Karim, an activist of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).
She claimed that Taliban were the product of religious schools patronised by the Pakistani rulers. She said that it was because of outright support of Pakistan government that gross human rights violation were taking place in Afghanistan.
Womenfolk had been denied their basic rights like education and health, she said. "This fuss is created in the name of Islam, the religion which compels every Muslim for good education," she remarked. "Are they the only Muslims existing on this earth?" she asked. Even Taliban have not let the Afghan men to live freely, the way they wanted to live, she added. "We as a human right activist ask our Muslim brothers why are they silent on this inhuman attitude of the Taliban government? Isn't the condition of our country just like that of Bosnia, Kashmir and Palestine," she said.
President Pakistan Awami Party, Fanoos Gujjar speaking on the occasion also held the government responsible for the on-going crisis in Afghanistan.
"If Pakistan government is democratic one than it should support democratic forces in Afghanistan," he argued. "Islam is a religion, which provides equal rights, it is the clergy which misinterpreted religion for his own end," he said. He said that they had been exploited in the name of Islam due to unawareness. As far as the status of women is concerned, he said that the role model of Hazrat Khadija (AS), first wife of Holy Prophet (PBUH) is a symbol for all Muslim women. "She was the one whom Holy Prophet confided to when he was revealed for the first time, which is more than a justification given for the women's rights in Islam," he remarked.
Ghinwa appreciates RAWA struggle for Afghan women
News Network International, March 9, 1999
KARACHI (NNI): Chairperson Pakistan Peoples Party (SB), Ghinwa Bhutto has congratulated the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) for their courageous struggle against the reactionary forces who are trying to stop the rightful emancipation of Afghanistan.
She said that in this era of tremendous technological progress, the reactionary forces have joined hands to crash the rights of working and exploited classes. These forces, she said, had then adopted the most modern technological devices, like electronic and print media to conceal their conspiring faces under the cover of liberalism.
"The trumpeting of their concern about the basic example of their deceit," she further added. Ghinwa said that these reactionary forces and their brokers, to make them live under constant pressures of poverty, superstitions and oppression had especially targeted the majority of women folk.
"This picture includes the whole w-orld, but the women of the Third World are facing much more tragic situation than those living in developed countries." she further said.
Ghinwa said, "I know that RAWA is fighting against the tyrannies of religious priesthood that with a brokers perpetrate ignorance as bliss and suppression as women's destiny. Consequently the women of Afghanistan like their sisters in Pakistan are living in the dark medieval ages even at the end of 20th century."
Ghinwa applauded and appreciated the struggle of RAWA against the usurpation of rights of women in Afghanistan. She assured them that they were not alone in their struggle.
The Nation, March 9,1999
[Statement on March 8] [Photos of the function] [A report from the function]