RAWA, February 5, 2022
Solidarity Messages on the 35th anniversary of Meena
Thanks for your show of solidarity with RAWA.
Messages of solidarity from around the world on the 35th anniversary of Meena, the founder of RAWA. We offer our heartfelt thanks to these wonderful friends and supporters for the support and love they have for our leader and struggle.
To the people of Afghanistan, and especially to Afghan women
What is there to say to you but ‘sorry’?
As an American citizen, my government has devastated your nation in my name and with my tax dollars. In spite of having spent the last 20 plus years demanding justice for the people of Afghanistan alongside other American activists, there has been little progress.
What else is there to say but ‘sorry’?
For so many years my government has dropped bombs, carried out raids, killed your children, armed fundamentalists, propped up corrupt warlords, and encouraged the drug trade. My leaders have done nothing but use you as pawns in their grand game of domination, violence, and war.
How else can I speak to you without saying the word ‘sorry’?
For far too long my leaders have pretended to care about you, about your education, your health, your children’s wellbeing, and then done the exact opposite of what it takes to keep people healthy, happy, and safe.
What more is left to say but ‘sorry’?
For decades my fellow American journalists have chosen to ignore your suffering, but then suddenly remembered to expose your oppression when it has served their purpose. On countless occasions, our leaders have promised to not forget about Afghan women, and then forgotten you when convenient.
What other words are there besides ‘sorry’?
I can think of some more: ‘thank you.’
Thank you for inspiring the world with your bravery.
Thank you for reminding us what courage looks like as you rise from the ashes of war to reclaim your nation.
Thank you for continuing to fight for progress and for keeping Meena’s legacy alive.
Thank you for allowing me to be a very small part of your journey.
In solidarity and with all my love,
In solidarity with RAWA and all women fighting in Afghanistan for justice, freedom and peace
Gabriela Velarde Fernández
Please, always know that you are not alone as your fight is our fight. Your fight represents an example for all the world. Your strength gives us hope of a better world.
I am very proud of you and will never forget the experience of being in your country and in your home. You treated me like family. You are forever in my heart and prayers.
"I'm the woman who has awoken,
Thank you for empowering us through you, RAWA.
Your courage and determination gave us the strength to stand on the side of RAWA and Afghan people
We didn’t have the privilege to meet you in person because, when we had the luck to meet our sisters of RAWA, you were already been assassinated by evil fundamentalists that didn’t want women to take the word, to decide their destiny, to study and be aware of their rights, to demonstrate in the streets and ask for a better future for them and for their country.
In a word, to organize themselves within the society in order to build a new and better one. Organized women, for these fundamentalists, and also for the so called “modern” capitalist societies, represent a danger; our struggle and your must be the same struggle, because only if we are united we will become free.
Meena, you were an example and an inspiration for many afghan women and girls; they have not forgotten you and, from the very moment you’ve lost your life, decided to continue your struggle because they know that it is the only way to change things, to improve the society and give hope to the women and to all the people. And you have been, and are, an inspiration also for us, here in Italy: your courage and determination gave us the strength to stand for many years on the side of RAWA and Afghan people and to struggle for the liberation of women all over the world.
You are amongst the many women that were martyred for their ideas and their struggle: Rosa Luxembourg, Sakine Cansiz, Leyla Şaylemez, Fidan Doğan and all the Kurdish women that gave their life to defeat ISIS and fundamentalism and build a new society, Marielle Franco, Berta Cáceres, Nadia Murad, Frozan Safi and thousands of others, killed, jailed and tortured every day. The patriarchal system all over the world fears our struggle and know very well that, if united, women will change the world for the better.
Dear Meena, now your country is again in the hands of the brutal and ignorant taliban, that want to silence the voice of women, but we know that our sisters of RAWA will stand strongly against this enemy which they know very well from the past experience; you should know that we won’t step back, and will keep supporting your struggle with all our strength.
Resistance is life!
With love and solidarity!
This path of liberation shown by Meena is good for all countries of the world
Dear friends of RAWA,
We bring you our solidarity sympathy and our own sorrow on the 35th anniversary of the death of Meena Keshwar Kamal, the founder of your wonderful organization.
Meena in her short life ignited a great empowerment, heart-warming, fighting fire for the women and girls of Afghanistan.
Not only the women and girls of Afghanistan, not only you of RAWA, but the women and girls of the whole world are still benefiting from it today, carrying on Meena's life's work.
For a free, democratic Afghanistan, where the female population can also live, work, learn in a liberated way, without interference and dictates of the profit-hungry foreign powers. For the promotion of a resistance movement from the people and for the people instead of ethnic struggles and division by Islamist fundamentalist terrorist groups.
This path of liberation shown by Meena is good for all countries of the world.
And the most important thing for us is: Meena has not only found words for it - she also showed how it works in practice: she initiated the construction for schools, health and handicraft centers, orphanages and fought for them together with the people in the country - this is still enormously important for the liberation of women today! Not only in Afghanistan, but worldwide.
We from Courage Essen are happy that we could start with our fundraising campaign "Afghanistan instead of Amazon, Afghan women - like stand with you" today, under the deadly dictatorship of Taliban fascism together with you our first relief action for the women and children in Kabul.
We are happy to follow Meena's way also, if we can make concrete donation projects together with you maybe very soon, even if they still have to run underground, because the Taliban will persecute them bloody.
For Meena, for RAWA, for the women and children in Afghanistan, we wholeheartedly support the development of a self-organization of the women and girls in Afghanistan with projects for education, health, work - as soon as you clear the way for it!
In September 2022, the 3rd World Women's Conference of grassroots women will be in Tunisia. An event that Meena would surely also heartily support.
Courage Essen wishes so much that one of your women from Afghanistan can participate - if somehow possible. For the travel expenses we would do a fundraiser with our project #Red Hat - Fight Sexism Everyday.
For Meena, with Meena, in the spirit of Meena.
Meena did not die in vain, the seeds she sowed continue to grow
Dear RAWA sisters in struggle,
For 45 years, you have been fighting against all imperialist powers –Russia, America and Europe– and all fundamentalist and reactionary forces.
Thirty-five years ago, on 4 February 4 1987 your founder, Meena, was assassinated for this cause by agents of the Afghan secret service with the backing of the Russian KGB.
Still today, with the return of the Taliban to power, the barbaric puppets of successive imperialist interventions, you keep up your underground struggle within Afghanistan itself, in Kabul, Herat and elsewhere for the Afghan people and especially for women's rights. No flight to the West for you, but underground, clandestine political and humanitarian work supporting refugees, providing food aid to the poor, running clandestine schools for women and holding more or less public courageous protest demonstrations.
We salute your determination and your courage with all our respect for the difficulties that you have to overcome along the way.
Twice, in 2002 and again in 2008, we welcomed a representative of RAWA to take part in a tour to gather support around our country, which was at the time involved in a military intervention in your country.
Today, all the blowhards such as Sarkozy, Hollande or Macron have abandoned you, because the imperialist geostrategic stakes are no longer worth it; the so-called defence of women was nothing more than a PR smokescreen and a pretext to justify their intervention. We, the Maoist Communists of France, remain at your side, in our common fight against imperialism in all its forms –especially French imperialism in our case– and reaction and in support of women's rights and a true popular democracy.
Comrades of RAWA, since we take the liberty to call you that, your founder Meena did not die in vain. The seeds she sowed continue to grow; new generations of women are joining the struggle and the new imperialists and reactionaries will be defeated just as the old ones were.
We, Maoist Communists of France, remain at your disposal to the extent of our modest possibilities to broaden the support for your luminous cause!
Death to imperialism, be it American, European, French, Russian or Chinese!
Admiration for the courage and bravery of all who continue the struggle against the Taliban
Dear RAWA members and supporters
As you commemorate the 35th anniversary of Meena's martyrdom on 4 February, I offer my sincere admiration for the courage and bravery of all who continue the struggle against the Taliban and those who seek to suppress the rights and dreams of Afghanistan's women.
Women are half of the population of Afghanistan. They must have equal and fair rights alongside its men so that your country and all its citizens can grow and prosper.
Keep up your good work!
In solidarity, and with love and hope
Honour, respect and support RAWA’s resolve to fight injustice and seek liberation
Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan (SAWA)
TO: THE REVOLUTIONARY ASSOCIATION OF THE WOMEN OF AFGHANISTAN
We, your friends of the Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan (Australia) stand in solidarity with RAWA and all the brave women and girls in Afghanistan who continue to oppose and struggle against the Taliban in your country. We recognise and support your strength and determination in your ongoing fight for freedom, justice and equality.
SAWA stands with you in total opposition to the Taliban, particularly with regard to the removal of basic civil and human rights for women and girls.
We are deeply concerned that the impact of Taliban rule will be far-reaching, but we honour, respect and support RAWA’s resolve to fight injustice and seek liberation.
You are not alone. The men and women of SAWA in Australia will always be thinking of you and sending messages of love and support.
We wish you a joyous and proud celebration in commemoration of Meena’s 35th Martyrdom on 4th February this year.
We humbly join the commemoration of the 35th martyrdom of Meena
International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles
The member organizations of the International Labor Network of Solidarity and Struggle reaffirm their support for the people of Afghanistan and in particular for the women of this country. The situation is dramatic: food, health, education, the most basic rights are not assured for a large part of the population. This is the observation after a few months of the return of the Taliban to power; it is also the result of years under American occupation.
We salute the work done by our comrades in RAWA, whose information we relay through the website of our International Labor Network of Solidarity and Struggle and via the member organizations in our respective countries. To make known the situation of the Afghan people, Afghan women and the action of movements like RAWA is part of our international trade union solidarity.
Twenty years ago, in December 2001, the Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women (RAWA, which has existed since 1977) rejoiced at the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, while denouncing the Northern Alliance of Commander Massoud at the service of American forces. RAWA denounced their involvement in mass rapes and ridiculed their claim to defend democracy and women’s rights in a new government imposed by the occupying forces. She reminded them that "the end of the humiliating requirement to wear the burqa is not enough to prove a real change of mentality regarding women’s rights and freedoms. In March 2002, RAWA predicted the failure of a war that would only be military, the corruption of the government in place, and called on the Afghan people to rise up against all fundamentalists.
We humbly join the commemoration of the 35th martyrdom of Meena, founder of RAWA, who was murdered in 1987 by the Afghan intelligence services. The struggle for life and freedom of Afghan women today continues this fight.
We are proud that all of you are the fighting sisters and daughters of Meena
Friends of RAWA
We, Friends of RAWA Japan, are extremely delighted to share the solidarity words with our loveliest Afghan sisters of RAWA together for Meena’s 35th martyrdom anniversary under the extremely tough conditions that our sisters have been facing since 15th August 2021.
Last August, whilst we were very shocked at the news of Taliban’s takeover, we had no doubt whatsoever that RAWA would open a new page of their long-run struggle against this atrocious oppressor. Because we know the history of RAWA and have learnt a lots from your struggle, thoughts and activities through our mutual interaction for nearly 20 years, we could expect your further struggle with confidence.
As we predicted, RAWA members soon launched the brave protest in order to protect fundamental human rights and freedom of which Taliban would deprive people in particular women. In fact, Taliban’s various restrictions over women began before too long though at the beginning they tried to pretend that they would be different from the former Taliban between 1996 to 2001.
We are proud of your struggle and every effort to raise voices against injustice under the rule of Taliban. We are proud that all of you are the fighting sisters and daughters of Meena. We are proud that you have inherited Meena and other forerunners’ passionate spirit and have poured it into your ongoing struggle.
We firmly believe that your tireless effort will serve as the driving force to change the society fundamentally, and that one day you will achieve building the truly democratic and peaceful society which is entirely liberated from patriarchy, foreign domination, fundamentalists and warlords.
We are waiting that the time comes for all of us to be able to march together against the oppressors and to be able to directly meet you in Afghanistan. Although we are in Japan at this moment, we are with you in spirit. We pledge to reinforce our solidarity and cooperation with RAWA from here on out, and to support your struggle and activities for people.
In solidarity with the warmest love,
We wish to give voice to RAWA and supporting it
The Artemisia Association joins RAWA in commemorating the 35th anniversary of the murder of Meena, the pioneer and founder of RAWA in Afghanistan.
We did not get to know her directly, but from what we read and tried to learn from the lessons she left behind in her life, we feel that, like many leaders and activists of the feminist movement, Meena became part of the pantheon of cultural and human references common to all women who have fought and still fight for freedom and the rights of women and children.
For us, writing from Europe, it is not obvious to say that this pantheon of women, with Meena, expands further at international level, takes on an enlarged view of the so-called “south of the world” and forces us to look beyond the temporal and geographical references of the supposed “north” (classically understood as Europe and the USA), where feminism has always been predominantly white and European, and for too long self-referential.
Today, the fight for women's freedom concerns us all, on a global level. Increasingly strong and significant are the testimonies that reach us from the lives and commitment of activists and feminists living in the four corners of the world: from black Africa to the Maghreb, from India to China.
We have learnt to know that there are feminisms differently declined and interpreted, steeped in their own customs, theoretical and cultural references and sometimes even religious ones.
As feminists and as women engaged in the fight for freedom against violence, we are open and curious to know and to learn; available to dialogue, to confrontation and to the possibility of building a new and different sisterhood, through confrontation and mutual support.
Today it is impossible to gain freedom from violence, patriarchal oppression and inequality in just one country while in the rest of the world hunger, poverty, wars and terror oppress people and above all women and children.
Millions of refugees and exiles are fleeing, emigrating in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones. And among these there are women, mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, friends and companions.
In spite of selfishness, abuse of power and growing inequalities, the current pandemic reminds us that we are all human and that no one can reach salvation alone.
That is why we do not want the spotlight to be turned off about the situation in Afghanistan, and we wish to give voice to RAWA and supporting it, hoping in an end to the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.
That is why we denounce the hypocrisy of governments who promised aid, salvation and freedom for Afghan women, while now frost, poverty and hunger reign in Kabul.
We learnt that Meena was committed both against the tribal obscurantism in Afghanistan, that she was working for the education and training of women and girls and against the Soviet regime in Kabul, which she challenged at the cost of her own life, that she sacrificed for the greater good.
Her life was very short, that ended the age of 31 by the killers of a group of fundamentalists supported by the KGB.
An intense and worthwhile life. An example of courage and a legacy of freedom to follow and be inspired by today. We, the women of Artemisia, will try to bring her to life through our daily commitment: against the indifference towards the Afghan situation, to oppose the growing hatred towards the refugees and exiles of the world, to affirm love and the right to a life free from the obscurantism of the Taliban regime, from hunger, from poverty, from ignorance for all women, boys and girls.
Loving Greetings to the Women and Supporters of RAWA on the Occasion of the Martyrdom of Meena
Melody Ermachild Chavis
Dear Sisters of RAWA. It is difficult to believe, almost, that RAWA survives and persists in doing work for the Women of Afghanistan for these many years and through breath-taking changes and staggering challenges.
Yet RAWA stands as an example of the strength and leadership of women everywhere. It was the honor of my life to work with you to gather all of the stories and photos about Meena – the evidence of her life and her achievements into her book.
Back then, to be honest, I often thought that Afghanistan needs also to have heroines who are not martyred, not only the inspiring examples of Malalai and Meena, who are no longer with us, but living leaders for the present moment too.
Twenty years later, this dream has come true! Afghan women have emerged as leaders in every field, from medicine to law and government, from filmmaking to teaching and sports, Afghan women have made the world marvel at them.
Hard times have never gone away, and at this moment, the struggle to survive is, sadly, even harder than ever for too many. Yet Meena’s example still shows the way. She was both afraid and brave, both exhausted and tireless, both an international leader and a comforter of ordinary families. She would be so proud to see today her many daughters.
She would tell you that better times will come. May it be so.
Meena is still alive in our hearts, in our struggles
Women Defend Rojava
Meena Keshwar Kamal (1956-1987) was born on February 27, 1956 in Kabul. During her school days, students in Kabul and other Afghan cities were deeply engaged in social activism and rising mass movements. In 1977, while sturdying at Kabul University, Meena founded the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), an organization formed to promote equality and education for women and continues to “give voice to the deprived and silenced women of Afghanistan”. Despite the Saur Revolution and women’s rights placed high on the Democratic Republic’s agenda, Meena felt that there was no vast changes of women’s deprivation in Afghanistan. In 1979 she campaigned against government, and organized meetings in schools to mobilize support against it, and in 1981, she launched a bilingual feminist magazine, Payam-e-Zan (Women’s Message). She also founded Watan Schools to aid refugee children and their mothers, a hospital and handicraft centers for refugee women in Pakistan to support Afghan women financially. In the ’80, she moved and based RAWA organization in Quetta, Pakistan were she will be assassinated on February 4, 1987.
On this day, 4 February 2022, we, Women Defend Rojava, commemorate the 35th anniversary of the martyrdom of Meena Keshwar Kamal. A day to remember and honour her by reiterating our pledge to continue our struggles against patriarchy, religious fundamentalists, imperialism, capitalism, all systems that oppress and enslave women.
Meena is still alive in our hearts, in our struggles. This statement is not just a message to remember. Meena’s struggle and life is an example for all women. It is also a message to remember the importance for us to build a women’s internationalism.
With RAWA, Meena laid the foundations of an organisation that, 35 years after her assassination, is more than ever a force in the resistance of Afghan women. The return of the Taliban to Afghanistan is yet another betrayal against women and society by the capitalist powers. Our support for our sisters in Afghanistan must be stronger than ever. We owe it to all the women who have died in the struggle, and to all those who continue to risk their lives in the resistance, sacrificed once again by the dominant powers of this world. Our history is linked to yours. We can never let our guard down. We have learned this once again with the recent attacks in North and East Syria in the city of Heseke and the attempted return of IS.
Our world is fragile, but we are strong. We are strong together and we need support and help in these times. In the spirit of Meena, we must build a revolutionary unity to continue her work, her struggle and those of all the women who have lost their lives, while instilling in us the strength to pursue our goals.
Jin Jiyan Azadi.
Meena's spirit lives on in RAWA
Network against Faminicide Berlin
The commemoration of Meena this year takes place in a political change that has shaken Afghanistan and the world. The news of how the Taliban have been handed power over Afghanistan and what this means for the people and especially for women is horrific and infuriating. It has shown once again that imperialism is a feminicidal politics in which the patriarchs go hand in hand.
At the same time, feminist struggles and women in struggle around the world are on the rise and around the world we are forging links and common perspectives that oppose these feminicidal politics. We stand in solidarity with each other and as examples for each other.
Meena was one such woman who can be an example to us all. Full of courage and with a strong will, she founded RAWA and ensured that many more women organised themselves and stood up for their liberation. Despite the conditions that she had to carry out her actions underground under great dangers, she stuck to fighting for the liberation of women and for a self-determined life.
That RAWA continues the struggle in the current situation is very meaningful and shows how Meena's spirit lives on in RAWA. This spirit, where our will is stronger than any repression, also unites struggling women worldwide. This will is a will to live - because while patriarchs, be they fundamentalist mass murderers or imperialist nation states, are destroying lives, we are fighting for life worldwide - and a life of self-determination, freedom and dignity. And we will not give up.
We remember Meena and the beauty her struggle carried with it. We wish you and all of us the best in the struggle ahead!
Greeting for the commemoration of the 35th martyrdom anniversary of the founder of RAWA, Meena
NOTE: These are the greetings of two structures of women’s organizing (including non-binary and trans people) in Germany:
Dear friends and comrades of RAWA,
We greet you on the occasion of the 35th martyrdom anniversary of Meena, who played such an important role in the founding of RAWA. We have heard about the charismatic leadership role that Meena had exercised. Everywhere we need people with the will to be leaders to decisively advance needed and pressing social and political change. Meena was such a person - and a very special one.
The murder of Meena is part of the worldwide feminicide, which is directed against women who want to live self-confident and self-determined lives and work to change patriarchal gender relations.
Our common and worldwide struggle for women's liberation as the basis of social liberation attacks these feminicidal policies. From domestic violence and intimate partner violence, to honor killings, rape and female infanticide as a practice of war, to the targeted killing of feminist activists and revolutionary women leaders, we must stop feminicides: in Afghanistan, in Kurdistan, in Europe, and everywhere.
We admire your over 45 years of feminist organized struggle that you have continuously waged as a women's organization under all forms of ruling and extremely difficult, repressive and violent conditions.
We are aware that the 20 years of Western military intervention or occupation, in which the German state also participated, has at no time seriously deprived the enemies of women's rights and democracy of power and influence. Nor, contrary to the rhetoric, has it ever worked to enable the people of Afghanistan to organize themselves for women's rights and democracy. Unfortunately, we are now seeing the sad result with the Taliban's anti-democratic takeover and the ousting of women from all public positions, income opportunities, and ultimately life chances, to the point of targeted assassination.
We are impressed by your determination to continue to advance women's organizing in Afghanistan and to hold the function of Meena’s martyrdom anniversary in the country. We know how connected you are to the people as well as to the confidence that people will rise up against oppression, misogyny and Islamism.
We send you our solidarity in our hearts and want to strengthen you emotionally. We are part of the same struggle and are united in building the Democratic World Confederalism of Women.
We wish you much success on your way! We are by your side.
The dead advance and light our way
The fire with which Meena fought would turn all the enemies of freedom, democracy and women into ashes
Dear Comrades in RAWA,
It has been inspiring to follow your work and to learn to read the situation in Afghanistan and in the world through your eyes. Learning and reading about the proud struggle of Meena is very powerful. Your work and her story is what we as your allied comrades need to tell people in Europe about Afghanistan. The imperialist interventions in Afghanistan have proved again that there is no freedom with liberal democracy, it will take on whatever robe – Islamist or secular. This becomes even more clear today watching how the Western governments that were part of the last imperialist intervention in Afghanistan, plan on normalization with the Taliban. Your words on Meena will be an inspiration for all of us not to lose faith that the people of Afghanistan can liberate themselves: “The enemy rightly trembled in fear of the love and respect that Meena planted in the hearts of our people. They knew full well that the fire with which Meena fought would turn all the enemies of freedom, democracy and women into ashes.” The regular detentions and assassinations continuing against activists today in Afghanistan show us that the enemy is very afraid – that´s the best proof of your strength!
In deep solidarity,
Dear comrades and friends of RAWA, dear courageous women of Afghanistan,
The MLPD sends warmest greetings on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the death of Meena, founder of RAWA and pioneer of the struggle for the liberation of women in Afghanistan!
When Meena initiated the founding of RAWA in 1977 as the first revolutionary women's organization of Afghanistan, she gave the Afghan women a voice which resounds until today. RAWA's first campaign in 1979 against the Russian armed forces was important educational work, especially in schools and universities, against the revisionist politics of Soviet social imperialism. In Afghanistan and in exile in Pakistan, Meena took a strong stand for the social issues of the people. She founded schools for refugee children, a hospital and skilled trade centers for refugee women in Pakistan for financial support of Afghan women. This important social work for the self-organization and self-liberation of the people, as well as Meena's unshakable commitment against Islamist fundamentalists, the social-imperialist occupation and the puppet regime were a thorn in the side of the oppressors. For this reason she was murdered by secret agents and their fundamentalist accomplices in Quetta, Pakistan, on 4 February 1987.
In Germany we are aware of the inhuman oppression through the fascist Taliban, to whom power was left over after 20 years of imperialist occupation by US and NATO troops. However, we also hear of the courageous protests of militant and self-confident women of Afghanistan, who are not willing to bow to the violence, terror and death by the misogynist dictatorship of the Taliban. In the spirit of Meena, RAWA continues its important work among women and girls under most difficult conditions. We make your struggle known in Germany! We know that the people of Afghanistan never accepted imperialist occupation and that they also do not want to live under Islamist-fascist rule. Parts of our new federal government, the Social Democrats and the party The Greens, were already responsible for the participation of German troops in the war in Afghanistan in 2001. At that time they tried to win the masses in Germany for their war participation with the propaganda about the „liberation of women in Afghanistan“. The disaster following 20 years of occupation unmasked the imperialist interests behind this hypocrisy.
Today they deny refugees admission to Germany and watch idly when Taliban violently oppose protesting women and men and when millions of children starve!
The MLPD supports the right to flee and especially the right of self-determination of the peoples in the struggle for freedom, democracy and genuine socialism! We have known RAWA for a long time and work together well, for example at the World Women's Conference of grassroots women, which will be taking place again this year in Tunisia in the fall. It is in this spirit that we stand firmly at your side and further wish you courage, power and confidence in your struggle for women's rights and the liberation of the women and girls of Afghanistan!
Meena fought for her political goals at the risk of her life
To the comrades of RAWA
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
On the occasion of the commemoration of the founder of RAWA, Meena Keshwar Kamal, we send our solidarity greetings. Every organization needs its role models to look up to. People who stand up for their ideals with passion and dedication and full of courage. Meena fought for her political goals at the risk of her life and defied conventions that wanted to ban women from public and political life.
Afghanistan is experiencing dark times again. Anyone who rejects and opposes the Taliban's inhuman ideology is threatened. And fundamentally threatened are women who are again deprived of their rights. Meena has campaigned for democracy, human rights and social justice. Values that are in jeopardy today more than ever. The international community must not turn their back on Afghanistan, but fight for it, so it can develop into a country of democracy, human rights and gender equality. This is what we on the left will work for.
RAWA has been singular in speaking out, against all forms of tyranny and corruption
Dear RAWA Sisters
It is hard to believe that it is over 20 years since I first heard the name of RAWA and of the courageous and visionary work that all of you have done since 1977 and are doing, inspired by Meena, and continued by all of you.
Back in 1999, when I sat in a bookshop in Los Angeles, and heard two of your representatives speak - they were so young, barely in their 20's, but spoke with such incredible passion, knowledge and grace - I was moved enough by what I saw and heard, to come and visit you in Pakistan. With your incredible generosity and sharing of your lives and knowledge, I was able to make a documentary that I hope contributed to the sharing of your work, and of the situation of women in Afghanistan.
In the early 2000's. when the western powers were celebrating the fall of the Taliban, RAWA was the one group to tell the truth as it really was. RAWA has been singular in speaking out, against all forms of tyranny and corruption, and also in being clear-eyed about what is happening in the country and society.
RAWA not only spoke out about the corruption of the newly-installed, US-backed regime after the Taliban fell, and the fallacy of US policies, but RAWA also offered a vision for what could be: instead of the militaristic approach that was pushed by the U.S, RAWA offered the 'radical' idea of policies, not based on violence, but based on investing in peace, investing in civil society rather than militaries, of supporting truly democratic leaders with fresh and liberatory ideas. RAWA predicted the outcome of the short-sighted policies that the US implemented, and now, 20 years later, this has borne out in the return of the Taliban -
I say this with a heavy heart, as I am not pleased that RAWA was correct in this analysis. However, it has only reaffirmed my belief in RAWA's knowledge and expertise - it is far ahead of any other so-called international policy “experts” or military leaders or even presidents of other countries. This is something to strongly recognize!
It also means, unfortunately, that your/our work is not done. While other powers, groups, countries, whoever they may be, may try and seduce you with promises and rosy outcomes that their corrupt practices will bring, you see through this. As truth-bearers, you have a particular role that cannot be substituted by anyone or anything else. Although this is a burden, it is also a blessing, as you can know, definitively, that what you are fighting for is indeed true justice, true peace, true liberation. It is your determination and work that can make it a better, more fulfilling and meaningful world for us all.
On this anniversary of Meena's martyrdom, I can only thank you for all you have done and all you continue to do. Please keep strong, courageous and steadfast - and celebrate yourselves too. Know that you touch the lives of so many, inspire so many people, in continuing this work of justice and freedom, not only in Afghanistan, but all over the world. In the face of increasing fascism and militaristic leaders around the world, this work has never been more important, and it is vital that we keep connected and support each other in these challenging times. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I celebrate and salute and support all of you and I feel stronger in knowing that we are moving forward in solidarity.
With much love
Solidarity Message for Women and Citizens of Afghanistan
New Japan Women’s Association
The New Japan Women’s Association extends its heartfelt solidarity to the women and citizens of Afghanistan, who are gathering to commemorate Meena's 35th Martyrdom. We send our warmest greetings with respect and friendship to our dearest sisters of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, RAWA, who, despite all the challenges you face, continue to encourage women in your country and to spread their voices throughout the world
Taliban’s takeover of the country and establishment of its interim government last fall once again revealed that the military occupation by the United States after 2001 had not bring genuine peace and stability to Afghanistan, and that the military force cannot achieve peace. We are distressed by the news reports that in Afghanistan, the already dire humanitarian situation due to the drought, COVID-19 pandemic, and a huge rise in internal displaced people amidst the deteriorated security conditions, is even worsening following Taliban’s coming back to power, and the subsequent suspension of aid, coupled with freezing of assets by many countries and international organizations, which could result in more than half of the population facing hunger. Furthermore, it is unacceptable that the Taliban, while speaking of “protecting women’s rights,” is excluding girls from secondary schools, removing women from public life as well as from the media, and has even dissolved the independent election commission and several ministries. We oppose all these acts of destroying freedom and democracy.
At the same time, we are greatly heartened to see Afghan women, led by RAWA, continuing to take actions. In the Global Solidarity Acton with Afghan Women organized on September 25, 2021, we spread our messages of solidarity across Japan through social media. We know that since its foundation in 1977, RAWA has always been active in pursuit of women’s rights, freedom and peace, over the course of history and under any form of the government, from the period of the Soviet invasion, civil war, former Taliban rule, US occupation, to the present Taliban interim government. And we are convinced that Afghan women, empowered in the past two decades through education and the progress in participation in politics and the economy, can overcome the ongoing crisis.
The struggle for peace, women’s right and gender equality is common to all. Japan is no exception; with the deeply-rooted gender-based discrimination and under the neoliberal policies, it lags far behind in gender equality as seen in the underrepresentation of women in politics with women having only 9.7% of the seats in the parliament, and in the wide wage gap with women get paid half of what men receive. The pandemic has pushed many more women into impoverished situation, and there has been an increase in the number of women taking their own lives as well as in the sexual violence against women. The current coalition government of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komei Party is not facing up to these hardships of women, but instead is pushing ahead with arms buildup including the plan to double the military expenditure. Despite being the only country to have suffered the wartime use of atomic bombs, Japan refuses to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, on the ground that the US nuclearweapons are necessary. The government is reinforcing the structure to enable Japan to “wage war” with the US, and to that end it aims to revise Article 9 of the Constitution, which declares that Japan “forever renounces war,” a pledge to the world born out of the remorse over the war of aggression the country waged and the colonial rule it imposed on other nations.
The New Japan Women’s Association was founded by women who had a firm resolve that they would “never allow war,” from the bitter experience of wartime, when they had no rights and were unable to speak out. This year, we celebrate the association’s 60th anniversary. Upholding the banner of the elimination of nuclear weapons, opposition to the adverse revision of the Constitution, and the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality, association members have been raising their and taking actions throughout Japan. We have been carrying on the movement in solidarity with women all around the world to achieve a peaceful, just and sustainable society. Convinced that preserving the Peace Constitution with its war-renouncing Article 9 to promote peace diplomacy is the biggest contribution Japan can make, we are determined to fight with all our strength to foil the attempt to revise the constitution.
HIRATSUKA Raicho, a pioneer of the women’s movement in Japan and co-founder of the New Japan Women’s Association, once gave us an inspiring message: “From our united struggle to defend lives and livelihood, a peaceful future will arise, a new sun will rise.” This is the message we want to share with you today. Together, let us work to create a society where everyone can live with hope, enjoying all their human rights and freedom. You are not alone. No matter how far apart we are, you will always find us standing with you.
RAWA draws its strength from Meena's unflinching opposition to obscurantism and repression
Dear RAWA members
I salute Meena's courage and fearlessness. She carved a path for the emancipation of Afghan women against seemingly insurmountable odds and laid the foundation in RAWA for the next generations of women to continue the struggle for a better society for women and men. RAWA draws its strength from Meena's unflinching opposition to obscurantism and repression to carry on her legacy in the face of persisting challenges and harder times to come in Afghanistan. I am joined by women fighting for equality everywhere in wishing RAWA all success to make Meena's dream come true.
We are by your side and that we admire you a lot for all of your actions and for your strength
The students of the Carducci high school in Milan,
We were so interested in all of your stories; even though Meena died, we know that her spirit and her ideals flow in you, and we hope that they will also flow in us.
We would like to tell you that we are by your side and that we admire you a lot for all of your actions and for your strength. Thank you for trying to make this world more free.
Ludovica, a student of the school:
Every time I hear your stories I am struck by your courage, by the strength you have in leaving such a dangerous situation to try to have a future. I wonder how it is possible that certain behaviours and certain violence are still committed against innocent women and children, how this endless war continues to disrupt millions of lives, how certain people turn their backs and pretend nothing is happening. I feel so powerless in front of all this, I keep asking myself if something can be changed and it seems that you, little by little, are doing it. I really admire you, the women you are and will become.
You never stop fighting, you have many people cheering for you.
We are by your side and that we admire you a lot for all of your actions and for your strength
Almu & Diana
Dear friends at RAWA,
Just recently, I realized how vulnerable “being a woman” makes us. Just recently, I realized how lucky and fortunate I have been to be able to study, and to suffer only some kind of violence. Even more recently, I realized this is not luck, but our birth right. Women’s rights are human rights.
Your fight has helped us make our entire struggle visible. Thank you for not giving up and continuing to stand up for what you believe in.