By Dave Goodman, IBIS Radio (Staff)
BOSTON/Copley Square - Organizers with the October 17 Mobilizing Committee and United for Justice with Peace held a press conference on Thursday to introduce several of the speakers scheduled for the anti-war march and demonstration that begins at noon this Saturday in Copley Square and to emphasize that the event will proceed in spite of a weather forecast calling for chilly temperatures and rain.
Rally organizers said they expect to draw 1,000 or more people to the Square in support of calls for the United States and its allies to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq immediately.
Participants will hear from a variety of activists; including representatives from groups working on economic issues (home foreclosures), foreign policy in Latin America (the Honduran coup), and the conflict between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.
But the keynote speech will be given by "Zoya" an Afghan activist from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). The Kabul based activist is on a bi-coastal speaking tour of the U.S. including Saturday’s Copley Square rally, Newton, MA on Sunday, Medford, MA and Portsmouth NH on Monday and then Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA. [Ed. Note: please see RAWA / Afghan Women’s Mission schedule for more details]
Due to a history within Afghanistan of reprisals against woman who criticize the status quo, “Zoya” is a pseudonym and no photographs or videotaping of her face were allowed during the press conference nor at events at Harvard Law School and MIT.
RAWA, a human rights and political advocacy organization established in Kabul in 1977, runs home schools for women and children throughout the country and until recently a hospital for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Lack of funds forced health care providers to scale back the scope of the hospital but some clinical services continue to be provided at the Khewa refugee camp, about 30 miles from Peshawar, Pakistan.
The organization supports an immediate withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan.
Speaking on Thursday morning in the Guatemala Room of the Community Church of Boston in Copley Square, Zoya emphasized a point she has been making throughout her tour: namely that she and her RAWA colleagues believe that “liberation and democracy can not come from the outside, from foreign countries.”
OMB Audio: “Zoya” excerpt from October 17 Mobilization Committee / United for Justice with Peace / New England United press conference at Community Church of Boston on Thursday October 15, 2009.
Download MP3: Zoya_RAWA_in_USA_October15_2009.mp3
The Boston Globe, October 18, 2009:
A gaggle of protesters tucked away cellphones and turned off cameras as a 28-year-old Afghani woman known as Zoya spoke against the conflict in her homeland.
“We want to thank those American soldiers who refused to go to Afghanistan, who refused to kill our children and women,’’ she said, sunglasses and a red scarf shielding her face from photographs that organizers said could jeopardize her safety.
Zoya, a member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, said her homeland does not need more occupation.
“Eight years was quite enough time to prove they aren’t helping the situation,’’ she added in an interview after her speech.
Zoya, whose parents were killed by fundamentalists, said, “When you belong to a generation of war, you can either give up and accept the situation or resist, and I resist.’’