|Tell us about RAWA and its political activities.|
|The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan
(RAWA) was established for the purpose of struggling for the rights of
oppressed Afghan women sometime before the coup d'etat of the Parchami
and Khalqi traitors. With the invasion of Afghanistan by Russian forces
and the coming to power of puppet regimes, RAWA emerged as the one of the
few political organisations with an uncompromising stand against the Russian
aggressors and their stooges. Despite the atmosphere of terror created
in the resistance movement by the fundamentalists, RAWA threw the totality
of its strength and resources into the liberation struggle. It was for
this that Meena, the founding leader of our organisation, was assassinated
by Khad (Afghan branch of the KGB) agents in connivance with the criminal
Golbodin band. The murderers believed that by eliminating Meena, RAWA would
be silenced, but RAWA was reinvigorated by the blood of its martyred leader
and further expanded its activities.
After the 8th Saur [April 28] tragedy and the subsequent domination of traitorous fundamentalist bands, RAWA's struggle has been directed against the fundamentalists and their masters. We believe that without the emancipation of Afghanistan from the filthy claws of fundamentalists of the Jehadi and Taliban brands our people can never expect to see peace and happiness, and the attainment of even the smallest popular demand, particularly of women, within the context of the 'emirate' of these creatures would be nothing more than a foolish dream. Therefore any serious and persevering activity aimed at attaining women's rights must inevitably take the path of struggle against fundamentalist reaction and therefore will invariably take on the form of political activity and struggle. The totality of RAWA's activities in cultural, artistic and educational spheres and in its publications have an anti-fundamentalist political essence. We take pride and satisfaction in the fact that since its inception this deeply political essence of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan has continuously become more pronounced rather than lose colour. This is because, as I have already mentioned, in such a sanguinary, degrading, inhuman and savagely misogynous atmosphere, it is only by addressing the root cause of our miseries that we can hope to attain emancipation. For the purpose of pursuing our objectives under the slogan of Freedom, Democracy and Social Justice we have several publications in Persian, Pashto, Urdu and English. We also bring out audio cassettes of songs with anti-fundamentalist and liberationist themes. We have organised functions and demonstrations to mark different occasions and have given media interviews. In spite of chest-beatings and baring of fangs by Jihadi and Taliban hooligans, our activists openly sell Payam-e-Zan [Women's Message] and our other publications in Islamabad and Peshawar, which in itself is an unprecedented action and desperately unnerves our enemies.
Unfortunately, due to paucity of economic resources we have seldom been able to travel abroad to unmask fundamentalist miscreants. As a case in point, we were prevented from attending the grand gathering of women in Beijing and consequently the anguished cry of Afghan women which is undoubtedly the cry of the most agonised women on the planet failed to raise reverberations at that unique forum. But we have taken part in almost functions and meeting organised by political parties and men's and women's organisations in Pakistan and have raised the issue of the dominance of religious fascism in our country.
But we believe all this will be null and void if we fail to organise and mobilise the myriads of our oppressed women against the tyranny of the traitorous fundamentalists.
|Are you active inside Afghanistan?|
|The value of the work we do and the effectiveness of our activities outside Afghanistan is the outcome of the work we do inside our country and the support we get from our members and sympathisers inside Afghanistan. We cannot at present have any overt activities inside Afghanistan because the sanguinary tyranny of the Soviet puppet regime has been replaced by a far more nefarious and terrible form of fascism in the garb of religion. Apart from the role played by certain Pakistani circles, the presence of fundamentalist bloodhounds in this country further restricts our work in Pakistan.|
|What is the situation of women inside Afghanistan, and what programs do you have in this regard?|
|To chronicle the woes of women inside Afghanistan is
a task far too tedious and far too painful to go into in this interview.
After the tragedy of April 28, 1992 when Jihadi beasts perpetrated their
aggression on Kabul and other cities, their depravity focused on ravishment
of women, girls and children. They resembled savage dogs unchained after
years of starvation. The Jihadi miscreants ("Jihadi" is the name they called
themselves by, i.e. Warriors in the War of Islam Against Infidelity) didn't
even stop at raping seventy-year-old mothers and old men, let alone orgies
of "birth watching". A large number of women and young girls committed
suicide rather than become victims of Jihadi depravity. All this added
to massacres, lootings, wanton destruction and an assortment of treacherous
crimes committed by fundamentalists have resulted in the development of
numerous forms of mental disorders, amongst women, especially the women
of Kabul. It can be asserted that there is no Afghan female above the age
of 10 who has not somehow been traumatised by the living nightmare of the
past five years. Although incidences of rape did not increase after the
coming to power of the Taliban, there was no relief for the perpetual agony
and sorrow of our women. The Taliban brethren of the Jihadi miscreants
replaced the previous form of excruciating agony with a deadlier form of
mental torture by unleashing a terrorising religious inquisition, humiliating
women and depriving them of the basic vestiges of human life. Even now,
women are banned from going to educational institutions or government offices,
working for a livelihood or even visiting women-only public baths or medical
facilities; in short, they cannot step out of their houses without a religiously
prescribed chaperon. This is a situation which does not have any precedent,
neither at present or at any time in the past in any fundamentalism- or
medievalism-blighted country in the world. Under such circumstances we
believe it is our prime duty to give awareness to women and mobilise them
for a decisive struggle against fundamentalist savages.
We strive to expose the cowardly machinations of remnants of Khalqi, Parchami and mealy-mouthed compromise-seeking intelligentsia and belletrists by proving the traitorous and ultimately misogynous nature of any and all policies of compromise and reconciliation with fundamentalists. Experience has taught us that without an uncompromising attitude towards fundamentalism we cannot take the least step forward in pursuit of our objectives. In addition to our core policy mentioned above, we strive to establish contact with families of martyrs and victims of fundamentalist murders and looting and help them in any way we can. We also try to set up schools wherever possible and support schools established by our compatriots. Such by-activities depend to a large degree on resources which more often than not we sorely lack.
|Don't you think that with the coming of a free political climate in Afghanistan there will be no more need for an independent organisation of women?|
|For the time being and until such time as the stench
of fundamentalist domination continues to poison the political atmosphere
in our country, speaking about the coming of a free political climate in
Afghanistan sounds more like a bitter joke. But, notwithstanding the situation
in Afghanistan, if we were to speak in general terms in regard to an independent
women's organisation we believe that the independence or non-independence
of such an organisation is a formalistic issue of secondary importance.
What is important is the kind of policy this or that women's organisation
is advocating or pursuing. Is it following an uncompromising stand against
the incumbent anti-democratic theocracy or is it approaching it with reconciliatory
and compromising overtures? In other words, what determines the character
and worth of an organisation (men's, women's, or non-gender specific) are
the policies which reflect its principles and which show the organisation
either to be principled, energetic and respectable or hollow, pernicious
and a mere puppet in the hand of the incumbent powers. On the other hand,
I believe that the independence or non-independence of a women's organisation
depends on the particular social and political circumstances of the countries
such organisations originate from. For example, if in Iran there is an
independent women's organisation which is reconciliatory and compromising
vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic, we believe it would be worth more
dead and defunct than alive and active.
Conversely, if there is an organisation which is not "independent" but has a tangible role in women's revolutionary struggles, the continuation of its existence and struggle would be the demand of Iranian women.
|Do you have activities amongst refugee Afghan women in Iran?|
|Due to the extremely suffocating political atmosphere in Iran we haven't been able to be in touch with our refugee women in that country as we have been here in Pakistan. From the very beginning of our activities we have clandestinely distributed Payam-e-Zan and our other publications and audio cassettes in Iran. Possessing a copy of Payam-e-Zan is considered a crime in Iran and on several occasions our readers have been imprisoned and tortured for the sole reason that our magazine had been posted to their address.|
|What do you expect of other organisations, and how can we help you in particular?|
|Our first and foremost request is that Iranian organisations do not ignore or play down the issue of Afghanistan. How is it possible to lay claims to being revolutionary, democratic, freedom-loving and justice-seeking when one is not shocked at the incineration and devastation of one's neighbour's house? Iranian freedom fighters should never forget that what is dominant in Afghanistan is unprecedented and unmatched in history. Suffice it to mention that the Dracula vampires in power in Iran and Saudi Arabia have been moved to react to the Jihadi infamies by asserting that the Jihadis' actions are 'defaming beloved Islam'. We look to Iranian liberation organisations never to forget to expose the treachery and infamy of fundamentalists in Afghanistan, and to feel duty bound to support in any form and by any means the scattered resistance of our people, particularly of our women, in their liberation struggles. We expect Iranian organisations to regard the issue of the liberation of Afghanistan from fundamentalist subjugation as their own, just as we regard the emancipation of the people of Iran from the bloody claws of fascist theocracy as the breaking of a link in the chain binding our own hands and feet and souls.|