by Michael Gillespie
Zoya, a 28-year-old member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), travels the world to speak out against the Northern Alliance, the Taliban, and the U.S./NATO occupation of her country. Representing RAWA’s Foreign Committee, Zoya spoke at the Des Moines Public Library on October 6.
“I want to focus on the eight years of occupation by the United States and NATO countries,” said the RAWA Foreign Committee representative. “Unfortunately, the West’s impression that Afghanistan has been liberated by the United States, that Afghanistan is a free country, that we are enjoying freedom and democracy to our country is untrue,” said Zoya.
“Yes, Afghanistan is free for the warlords. Afghanistan is free for drug lords. Afghanistan is free for rapists to rape children and women. Afghanistan is free for United States troops to kill our civilians, our children, our women, day by day in so-called mistakes,” said Zoya.
A refugee currently living in Pakistan, Zoya uses a pseudonym when traveling and speaking because her life has been threatened by fundamentalists. She also asked photographers not to photograph her face.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in pursuit of its geo-political, economic, and regional strategic goals and to build military bases there, said Zoya, “not to liberate women.”
Freedom, democracy, and justice cannot be exported and forced on other countries at gunpoint, but instead are achieved over time through a long and arduous process, said Zoya.
“Those who claim to donate these values to the Afghan people through force will only push our country into slavery. It is our responsibility to stand up to fundamentalists and occupations,” said Zoya.
Founded in 1977, RAWA is the oldest political and social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy, and women’s rights in an Afghanistan blighted by fundamentalism. The organization calls for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops.
Zoya’s presentations in Iowa at the University of Iowa and in Des Moines were sponsored by the University of Iowa Antiwar Committee, the University of Iowa Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, the Des Moines Catholic Worker, American Friends Service Committee-Des Moines, and the International League of Women Voters-Des Moines.