The answer was sent to Wendy McElroy, FoxNews and ifeminists.com on October 14, 2002, but they neither acknowledged its receipt nor published it though we resent it later. It appeared on EquityFeminism.Com on October 18, 2002.
Perhaps this is the season for senseless attacks on RAWA from so-called Western feminists. We hadn't yet attended to Noy Thrupkaew's article in The American Prospect Magazine (August 2002), when Wendy McElroy wrote an article about RAWA for ifeminists.com and Fox News on August 20, 2002.
McElroy's name is not unfamiliar to us. She has previously written two articles that mentioned RAWA, the first (FoxNews, September 18, 2001), contained no criticism, but rather sentences like this:
"The deep suffering of Afghan women is becoming a matter of international protest, partly through the efforts of the Pakistani-based Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). RAWA gives the silenced women a voice."
But the second article contained sudden disapproval and inaccuracies.
We believe the root of McElroy's criticism is her baseless imagination that the aid from the US and especially the aid collected by Feminist Majority and its 800 teams has all been given to RAWA and RAWA never presented transactional evidence!
McElroy wrote in her October 23rd 2001 article:
"Much of the money intended to help the women of Afghanistan has been steered towards a group called RAWA" and "Much of it (funds raised by more than 800 teams formed by Feminist Majority) apparently, is going to RAWA".
Last year we didn't pay much attention to McElroy's incorrect understanding of the matter as we believed the fact that the Feminist Majority does not provide any aid to RAWA is a reality too obvious for a writer like her not to become aware of easily. But now, unfortunately, it looks as if her mind is still not cleared about this accusation against RAWA and that is why almost one year later, the same wrong idea is heard from her:
"FMF should be called to account for its role in funds directed towards RAWA."
We could not criticize an inexperienced ordinary person for allowing him or herself to make such a baseless judgment but a writer like McElroy is not expected to talk about others so irresponsibly.
In our reply we openly and emphatically announce that RAWA has not received one cent from FMF since they contributed a mere $1000 to one of our events a few years ago. It goes without saying that considering the money they claim to have collected for Afghan women, this is a drop in the bucket.
Also, we ask FMF to attend to this matter and inform the American people, the world and especially McElroy about the myth of its help to RAWA.
For McElroy's information we must say that as soon as RAWA came to know of Mavis Leno's help to the Afghan women through the FMF, we tried to inform Leno and her supporters in the US that RAWA was not receiving any support from FMF.
McElroy should openly announce the reason and source of her absolutely wrong conception. Instead of accusing RAWA, it is better for her to carry out research on what she herself calls "a blitz of post-September 11 media" in which she writes that "RAWA became the sin qua non of Afghan women's oppression." If this is the case then why didn't RAWA receive even a cent from the funds collected through FMF? We too wonder where did all that money go and how was it spent?
Now let's look at some of her other complaints against RAWA, all of which are entirely based on things misconstrued by McElroy. She wrote:
"How were these (funds) -or the anonymous check for $100,000 mentioned on the AWM's site ultimately spent? RAWA seems too busy to explain …"
Aside from our political activities, RAWA is administrating hundreds of schools, literacy courses, orphanages and income generation projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan without receiving any fees from the students. If RAWA had or has the financial opportunity, it would increase the number of these centers to thousands. Other than this, especially in the past two years, RAWA has had numerous foods and winter supplies distributions in Pakistan and Afghanistan and launched medical camps distributing free medicine. RAWA has been the only Afghan organization present at the earthquake stricken areas of Afghanistan and provided the victims with aid. RAWA is the only organization in the country, which in spite of heavy and numerous difficulties, launched a huge project for the welfare, medical care and betterment of our society's most deprived and most oppressed group -prostitutes. RAWA is carrying out different projects in order to help the beggars and widows of Afghanistan as well as two hospitals in Pakistan that attend to 500 patients daily without any charges.
It is not possible to give the details of all these projects here. But the fact is that the help we receive from the people of America and other countries is spent for these sole purposes. McElroy should know that the funds collected for RAWA through SEE/AWM are sent to us for specific projects and after a given period the aforementioned projects are studied and inspected by the representatives of SEE/AWM. It, however, has always been RAWA's sincere request to the fund providers that should try, as much as possible, to travel and inspect our projects for themselves.
It wouldn't be irrelevant to request McElroy and other interested parties to come to Pakistan and Afghanistan once, so that with the least acquaintance with RAWA's activities they can come to know how RAWA spends the funds.
It is also worth mentioning that RAWA has sent detailed documents on how the funds were spent to many donors, whether they asked for such documents or not.
We are aware that by carrying out our work honestly and transparently, we will be able to attract more contributors. We consider ourselves responsible to our supporters. But we will also welcome you, Ms. McElroy, to Pakistan and Afghanistan because we are confident that after visiting us we will no longer read biased and imaginary articles from you about aid to RAWA, but articles based on reality. And after consequently the readers of your articles will be encouraged to further help the only anti-fundamentalist feminist organization in Afghanistan.
About the letter writing regarding TSP, we accept your suggestions for improvement. We never claim that all our work in other different fields is 100% efficient. However, the translation of the letters is a problem, so is the mail service and living in a society as ailing, non-secure and unstable as ours reduces the possibility of the teachers writing a letter, even if they desired earnestly to do so. The conditions in Afghanistan are incomparable to any country. Can we find the wildness of the Taliban and "Northern Alliance" type in any other part of the Globe?
And don't forget the small problem that even our mail service is still not fully operational.
McElroy, in her October 23rd article pointing to the presence of Afzal Khamosh, general secretary of the Communist Mazdoor Kisan Party of Pakistan adds:
"In the fast-moving world of Islamic politics, such a connection may mean little and might be easily explained. But few people are asking RAWA difficult or probing questions. Even professional skeptics - that is, journalists - have done only softball interviews and articles in venues ranging from New York Times Magazine to Court TV."
For the purpose of establishing a united anti-fundamentalist and pro democracy and women rights front, RAWA has tried to maintain friendly relations with all organizations and personalities who can be cooperative, despite some differences. We have attended their functions and invited them to our functions. We are democratic-minded Ms McElroy. Why should we be afraid of Afzal Khamoshs? Just to please some anti-democratic people in the West or countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia and get a tap on our back?
RAWA has NO connection with Mujahideen-e-Khalq, and we have certain crucial differences with them. However, we admire all Iranian organizations who are fearlessly fighting the fundamentalist regime. While RAWA does not condone any loss of innocent life, we would like to avail this opportunity to express our deep solidarity with all those Iranian women and men who are heroically fighting the infamous Islamic Republic of Iran inside the country.
RAWA has responded to every question related to this or other issues.
We are amazed that McElroy, as a "professional skeptic", who accuses other of conducting "soft-ball" interviews with us has never seriously attempted to actually interview RAWA herself. RAWA is never intimidated by "difficult" interviews. In fact we would welcome it.
Now that nobody else is "asking RAWA difficult probing questions", we invite McElroy to interview us on most "probing questions" she wishes. And we would appreciate her for that in advance.
McElroy complains about the busyness of RAWA's members. But what can we do? It happens many times that those who know English have been heavily engaged. Please realize the condition of our work and life in Pakistan Ms. McElroy. And it is also true that no RAWA member lives in the US or Europe. Is it our crime?
And finally regarding the paragraph attacking us for criticizing American policies in Afghanistan. Can McElroy deny the fact that it was the US and not any other country that created the criminal Afghan fundamentalist bandits (Jehadis and Taliban) and CIA was working closely with Osama? If she dares to reject these facts, she not only stands in confrontation with RAWA but with many well-respected American and world scholars and analysts. By the way, if not the US, then who has so far supported the Northern Alliance, the fundamentalists more treacherous and traitorous than Taliban?
We wish to draw your attention to the sentences below, which might provide you some more knowledge about the truth of the matter:
India Abroad News Service, March 6, 2001:
"CIA worked in tandem with Pakistan to create the "monster" that is today Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, a leading US expert on South Asia said.
"I warned them that we were creating a monster," Selig Harrison from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars said at the conference in London."
Famous Pakistani author Hamid Mir writes in The News, Sept.11, 2002:
"American officials were trying their best to use Taliban for their oil games till December 1997 when Mullah Ghous was invited to America, State Department officials were not showing any interest in capturing or killing of Osama even at that time."
"Mullah Omar in a meeting [with me] claimed that American diplomats are coming to see him and telling 'you cooperate with us by assisting American Oil Company and we will cooperate with you.'"
Please let us know if you need more of such references.
Apart from our differences with the political and military decisions and actions of the US government, we have repeatedly said that the American people are a great people who can bring once again peace, development and beauty to mankind. Governments go but people remain.