The Paper (Australia), November 29, 2001

RAWA's work continue in the midst of war

SALLY BEAUMONT talks exclusively with Mehmooda, a member of the Revolutionary Association of the women of Afghanistan.

Since the beginning of America's "Operation Enduring Freedom" the Revolutionary Association of the women of Afghanistan (RAWA) have continued to provide support, education, and medical attention for the innocent victims of their devastated country.

With underground schools still running, RAWA have begun education the young about their current positions and most importantly about truth.

Speaking to Mehmooda, a RAWA member she explained to me the changes in which their underground classes have ensued.

"We have shifted some of our home based classes to the relatively safer places in all providences subjected to the air strikes. We have painstakingly tried not to stop the classes so that the students feel not much depression and fear."

Such classes involve covering the questions many Afghanistan are asking, as Mehmooda states," The same holds true for the women's literacy courses, but the teachers ate mainly trying to educate the women about the situation: What did the Taliban and their Arab accomplices do on September 11th in America? Who is Osama and his Al-Qaeda? What was the role of the U.S. and Pakistan in creating and assisting these criminals especially during the anti-Soviet war? Why the Northern Alliance should not seize power? We are raising awareness of the women, that there are millions of anti-terrorist people in the US and the west, who are peace loving and have sincere sympathy with the Afghan people. That they want to fight the germ of terrorism in a way without any negative effect on the already wounded people of Afghanistan and many other related points. We do our utmost to prove to them that notwithstanding our reservations, the current anti-terrorist war is not at all a religions war or a war against Islam and Muslims."

The refugee crisis in Afghanistan has escalated severely with an estimated two thousand Afghans fleeing daily.

Many are met with the Taliban blocking routes and neighboring counties closing off their borders. These innocent people are often fired upon and have no escape. The Islamic Republic of Iran deported over 2300 Afghan escapes, forcing them back into the war zone, as too did the Pakistani government, ordering its border guards to open fire on refugees attempting to enter the country. A 23-year-old man was killed and a 13-year-old child injured. Yet RAWA's work continues, supplying these refugees with much needed medical attention and supplies.

"We have helped hundreds of women with their children to immigrate to Pakistan and accommodate almost all of them in the camps or elsewhere.

Some of our mobile medical teams are going to stockpile as many supplies needed in a war situation as possible. We want to be helpful to our helpless people.

That is why even of the personnel of our mobile teams have taken refuge in Pakistan."

RAWA has also continued their extremely courageous work of covering events in their countries using hidden cameras and eyewitness accounts. And now the world is listening albeit not as much as it should to the undeniably courageous work of these women and the extreme problems that have plagued Afghanistan for decades. "We've received reports of civilian casualties. Few of them have been posted on our website and the rest are to be translated and posted on the site. Also we've filmed about 10-hour video footages from recent destruction due to the strikes, and interviews with victims. They all have already been given to world media and TV channels in Germany and other European countries." If the post few weeks we've been interviewed by over 500 journalists and publications world over published articles about RAWA.

Among them are the Washington Post, the Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, ABC News, CNN, NBC, and many more. However the changing situation has not affected our underground status in Afghanistan or even in Pakistan, because the Taliban are still at the helm and their Pakistani brethren are very much active in Pakistan. However, we are stil mainly underground organization."

With their current focus and illumination, RAWA's security is being hindered, even in Pakistan, as Mehmooda states, "Yes we are being persecuted in Pakistan, more than before and the Taliban are keeping an aye to hunt any RAWA activist wherever possible. However, it could be also said that the focus on RAWA has been positive because the world would know that the women of Afghanistan also resist the Taliban or other criminal fundamentalist bands like the Northern Alliance. RAWA is determined to continue the hard struggle against these enemies of mankind till the end. Anyway for the sake of our cause and to get the voice of our voiceless women heard around the world, we have to cope with danger.

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