Speech of RAWA delegate to Afghan Women’s Workshop August 28 - 29, 1997, Lahore
On behalf of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) I would first of all like to extend our sincere thanks to Shirkat Gah for highlighting the situation of Afghan women for the first time in Pakistan by convening this present workshop.
Individuals, the Pakistani media and numerous Pakistani groups and institutions have evinced keen interest in what has been going on in our country during the past 17 years and in particular since the calamity of April 29, 1992. All have sympathised with our tormented people in their own particular way and in accordance with their particular understanding of our situation. What has always been a source of deep anguish for us is that all such sympathisers have either failed to comprehend the essential issue of the Afghan conundrum or have chosen to disregard it because of ulterior motives. This essential point lies in the fact that after the collapse of the Russian puppet regime in Afghanistan our country has been at the mercy of the vilest and the most traitorous religious fundamentalist gangs. Whatever you may have heard or read of the utter depravity and the heinous horrors being perpetrated in our devastated country is due to the existence of a few fascist ultra-reactionary religious parties who are intimately linked with institutions such as the CIA and countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and certain countries in Central Asia. Service to and in the ranks of such vampire parties has since long been regarded by the majority of our people and in particular by decent and self-respecting intellectuals as the lowest form of infamy and betrayal of the Afghan people and the Afghan motherland. Regrettably though, a great number of people whether in Pakistan or elsewhere either turn a blind eye to these festering wounds on the body of our country, which constitute the prime cause of our people’s miseries, or consider it a phenomenon of secondary importance. The fundamentalist criminals in power in Afghanistan strain with all their might to outdo each other in villainy and depravity. The Shiite Wahdat-i-Islami religious party fills barrels with human eyes while the Sunni Wahhabi Ittihad-i-Islami party takes pride in grovelling to Arab cretins and broiling Shiites and ethnic Hazaras alive in metal containers. Tajik and Uzbek "Islamic" parties have put Gengiz Khan’s savage hordes to shame in savagery and infamy.
To abstract the Afghan issue from the nefarious existence of fundamentalist religious parties is an erroneous exercise. The ultimate solution of the Afghan imbroglio lies only in the annihilation of all religious fundamentalist parties of all brands and marks, be they Taliban or be they with Rabbani, Khalili, Hekmatyar, Masoud, Mohsini or Sayyaf figureheads. For this reason RAWA believes that UN mediation efforts for brokering peace are foredoomed to failure because the UN considers these rogue parties as the cornerstones of its peace endeavours. Our people have no sympathy with so-called peace efforts staged by Iran, Pakistan and other interested countries as such efforts are primarily self-serving. Peace-mongering by these countries are nothing but smokescreens for the provision of material and political assistance to their indigenous Afghan lackeys and proxies; these "friends" and "well-wishers" of Afghanistan have maliciously left the destiny of the Afghan people in the hands of fundamentalist bands and recognise the heads of these bands of thieves and miscreants as undisputed "leaders" of Afghanistan. The tragedy is such that due to the unforgivable complacency of the Chinese government, delegates of the traitorous Rabbani clique represented Afghan women at the Beijing conference last year. Such representation of mortified Afghan women was nothing but a cruel insult to the people of Afghanistan in general and Afghan women in particular.
RAWA believes that the true friends of Afghanistan and the Afghan people amongst countries, organisations or individuals making such a claim are those who are openly, unequivocally and unreservedly against all criminal fundamentalist bands and who refrain from having any links with or giving any support to any and all such parties.
Afghan fundamentalists of all hues and colours brazenly insist that the on-going dog-fighting in Afghanistan is in consequence of foreign interference in the internal affairs of the country, and venal members of the intelligentsia rush to expand and expound such assertions made by their paymasters. Such pronouncements are designed to hide the criminal and traitorous nature of the fundamentalists. RAWA has maintained time and again that this in itself is an involuntary admission on the part of fundamentalist criminals to being a nefarious tool in the hands of aliens. For this reason these odious bands are all the more worthy of superlative malediction, and will ultimately be discarded by the people of Afghanistan for ever being easy, cheap and handy agents for the implementation of foreign conspiracies.
A characteristic hallmark of Islamic fundamentalist creatures is their inhuman attitude towards women. With the coming to power of Jihadi criminal traitors in Afghanistan the very first volleys of mediaeval tyranny in their assault on human rights, liberty and democracy were unleashed against women. Their Taliban successors outdid the Jihadis in beastly atrocities against women. The plight of Afghan women under Jihadi fundamentalists and Taliban ultra-fundamentalists defies comparison with any deplorable situation anywhere in the world. The Taliban ultra-fundamentalists have raised terrorist atrocities against women to such a pitch that even arch-reactionary fundamentalist regimes such as those of Iran and Saudi Arabia are feeling "ashamed" and find themselves compelled to tell the Taliban savages that their actions are denigrated Islam!
In regard to the issue of Afghan women in the clutches of Islamic fundamentalists, two attitudinal trends have emerged in Afghan thinking circles: one favours working for the restoration of the human rights of women within the confines of fundamentalist domination, whether of the Jihadi or of the Taliban brands, and considers such strivings as being feasible and legitimate. The other maintains that there can be no hope for human rights of women without national emancipation from the chains of fundamentalist oppression. This latter attitudinal trend opines that at a time when the destiny of our country and people have been degraded to mere playthings in the foul hands of anti-democracy fundamentalist ignoramuses, women’s struggle for their rights against a backdrop of oblivion in regard to the emancipation movement of the country cannot be justified. RAWA subscribes to this latter view: without the overthrow of fundamentalist domination, liberty and human rights in particular for women are meaningless. We believe that all true freedom loving pro-democracy Afghan individuals – whether men or women –, groups and organisations, have no choice but to regard the emancipation of Afghanistan and the Afghan people from the blood-drenched domination of the fundamentalists as their top priority and realise that without sustained and decisive struggle against fundamentalists and their foreign masters, agitation for national freedom and human rights can be nothing but demagogy and indirect service to the fundamentalists. It is for this reason that from its inception, RAWA has not for a moment relaxed its vigorous campaign against any and all individuals and groups who favour a grovelling policy of complacency and compromise with the fundamentalists. RAWA takes pride in being the only women’s organisation in Afghanistan which with it decisive refutation of compromise with this or that fundamentalist band has unflinchingly defended the pride and honour of the sacrifices of myriads of true Afghan men and women freedom fighters.
RAWA not only strives for co-ordination and co-operation between all pro-democracy women individuals and organisations in Afghanistan but calls for solidarity between all anti-fundamentalist and pro-democracy organisations in the region as an essential necessity. We reiterate our call on organisations campaigning for national emancipation, in the first place on organisations of freedom loving Pakistani women to pay heed to the anti-fundamentalist struggle of the women of Afghanistan and strive to set the foundations of a great, practical and effective solidarity with them. If the devastating conflagration of fundamentalist domination is not extinguished in Afghanistan, you can be sure that sooner or later, you, the people and particularly the women of Pakistan, will taste of the bitter cup of the domination of fundamentalist tyranny and ignorance. The recent events in Malakand and the sectarian killings in Pakistani cities are but warning symptoms of the spread of fundamentalist infection from Afghanistan. It is up to the people and the democratic organisations of Pakistan to throw overboard once and for all and before it is too late the wretched official tradition of sponsoring criminal Jihadi and Taliban fundamentalist and ultra-fundamentalist bands and their treacherous leaders, and to support the establishment of a dispensation in Afghanistan in which religion is separated from the state and where the foundations of the state dispensation rest on values of democracy and respect to human –and in particular- women’s rights. Such will be the sincerest and most praiseworthy attitude in regard to the tribulations of our afflicted people and our devastated country.
May we express the hope that the work of the present workshop will promote a spirit of sympathy with Afghan women and conclude with the resolve to unequivocally oppose fundamentalism and the determination to forge solidarity with organisations championing democracy, and women’s rights in our bedevilled and benighted homeland.