Die Tageszeitung, No. 6611 of 27th November 2001, page 4 (translated from German)

No Room for Fundamentalists
Interview with Ute Scheub

Still, women cannot play an important role in setting up a democratic Afghanistan, says Shahla. They lack qualified education.

Taz: Will RAWA participate in the conference in Bonn?

Shala: I got a call from an advisor of ex-king Mohammad Zahir Shah saying that RAWA might participate in the conference as part of the royal delegation. But that's not official and therefore not quite certain. But I hope that I may represent RAWA in Bonn until another representative of RAWA from Pakistan will arrive at Petersberg in Bonn and that this will not fail because of visa problems.

Which women will be expected in Bonn?

As far as we know, there are two other women in the ex-king's delegation. One of them is Sima Wali. She lives in exile in the United States and so she is not involved in the political activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But it's important that the participants are politically involved or be delegated by a political organisation.

And the other woman?

That's Rona Mansuri, she's the daughter of the former prime minister in the king's time. She's member of the German association of Afghan women, which is exclusively committed to humanitarian aid.

What do you expect from the conference?

At the moment nobody can tell anything definite. In comparison to earlier conferences, I think that the presence of the former king's delegation is a positive sign. Most of the democratic and peace-loving forces in Afghanistan are supporting him. RAWA is supporting him, because he is counterbalancing all fundamentalist groups of the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. But we don't favour a monarchy as ideal type of a future Afghan government (laughs). We will continue to fight for a democratic Afghanistan. But the presence of the royal delegation is also important for the deployment of UN peace-keeping forces. The Northern Alliance has to be disarmed, so that the different groups will not again take up arms against each other or against civilians. We also think that it's essential to arrest the war criminals of the Northern Alliance and have them sentenced by international courts. And there is still something else, which can only be guaranteed by the king and not by the Northern Alliance: support of democratic groups and parties. They must have the opportunity to present themselves, to raise their voice and to test, whether they are backed by the people.

The UN special emissary for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, is said to have ignored RAWA?

We met him in Pakistan on his tour. He promised to support us, but didn't invite RAWA to the conference.

Can you explain Brahimi's behaviour?

No. Maybe some members of the Northern Alliance intervened. They are afraid of RAWA, because it's the strongest organisation fighting against them. But I trust in the support of Western governments, who now learned how dangerous fundamentalist groups are both for Afghanistan and the whole world.

Do you also support summoning a Loya Jirga which is a national assembly?

Of course. The Loya Jirga is a traditional form of Afghan democracy. But what is most important for us is that no fundamentalists will participate and that all members will accept human rights and feminist rights. A Loya Jirga might initiate a democratic process with free elections in the end. But this will take a long time during which the different groups and parties can work and present themselves. But I'm sure that the criminals and fundamentalists of the Northern Alliance will not go down well with the people.

What will be the women's role in a Loya Jirga?

They should participate. Many men died in the war so that women now make up 60% of the population. But unfortunately, their role won't be too strong, just because only 3-4% of the women had education at schools.

What's your vision of a new Afghanistan?

There are so many problems, which can only be solved by women. A whole generation of children never attended school and had to take up guns when they were only 10 or 14 years old. They became witness of executions, whippings, lootings and rapes. It's peace what we need urgently. And education.

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