The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
RAWA


 

 

US should leave, Afghan woman says

"Fox News and CNN do not report what is happening in my country," she said.

Courtney Nguyen, CORRESPONDENT

AMESBURY — "Withdraw troops and empower disarmament and democratic groups. We are not free; we are not liberated." This was the message of Afghanistan native Zoya, who spoke to a crowd of more than 50 people at the Friends Meetinghouse in Amesbury yesterday.

Zoya in Boston, USA
October 15, Zoya speaking in Brandeis Heller School in Boston (Photo: RAWA)

Zoya, whose name has not been revealed in order to protect her identity, has been touring the United States in an effort to spread the message of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, a women's rights group. Women have traditionally been treated as a subclass in Afghanistan, and under Taliban rule, were denied access to many basic rights, such as education.

She grew up in an activist family and said that when she was 14, her parents were murdered by fundamentalist extremists, and she continues their work today even though her own life has been threatened.

Zoya, 28, told the audience at the Meetinghouse that the United States media does not present the whole story of the atrocities that are the reality for the majority of the population of Afghanistan.

"Fox News and CNN do not report what is happening in my country," she said.

Women in particular suffer in their own homes and out in public.

"In their homes, they are abused by husbands, fathers, brothers. Outside, they are raped, kidnapped and murdered. Your news tells you that we are free because the schools are open and the women are no longer required to wear the burkha," Zoya said. "Yes, the schools are open. But parents are afraid to send their children. Women are not forced to wear the burkha, but many do for protection. They prefer wearing the burkha to being seen and then raped in the night."

When U.S. troops were sent to Afghanistan eight years ago, Zoya said the people were told it was for three reasons: to establish a democracy, liberate women and for the war against terror.

"After eight years, what has been accomplished? The U.S. is working with the Northern Alliance to combat the Taliban. But the Northern Alliance is a terrorist group just as dangerous, and the Taliban controls 85 percent of the country," Zoya said. "Ninety-three percent of the world's opium is coming out of Afghanistan. Women are still suppressed by domestic and fundamentalist violence."

Zoya said that Afghanistan has received $38 billion over eight years, but no one knows where the money has gone.

"It has gone into the pockets of the corrupt government," she said.

As for the recent election, Zoya calls it a fake and a fraud.

"RAWA condemned this election. It was ruled by the drug lords," she said. "It is not important who was voting, but who is counting the votes. The Taliban control the ballot boxes."

Amesbury resident Jim Thivierge asked if Zoya sees any difference between the policies of former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama.

"The foreign policy in Afghanistan of Obama is very disappointing," she answered. "No change at all than that of Bush. His first act was to send more troops and make more war. He also said that the U.S. has nothing to apologize for. Instead of talking about U.S. foreign policy, he's supporting the fundamentalist Northern Alliance."

Anne Dodge wondered what Zoya thought would happen if the troops from the U.S. and the other 42 countries occupying Afghanistan left.

"Wouldn't there just be a bloodbath between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban?" she asked.

Zoya said that there is a civil war coming whenever the troops leave.

"It will happen tomorrow or in 35 years," she said. "I'd rather it happen sooner, than having our people die slowly under occupation. We must face our own problems and create our own democracy. You cannot make a democracy under gunpoint."

Audrey Healy said that listening to Zoya made her want to do something to help. Zoya said that writing to Congress and urging them to support democratic groups like RAWA would be a good start, and presentation coordinator Barbara Hildt agreed.

"If every person in this room wrote or called Senator (John) Kerry tomorrow and urged him to listen to Zoya's story, we might get somewhere," Hildt said.

For more information about RAWA, visit its Web site at http://www.rawa.org.

Category: English, English Media - Views: 11499