ZNet, May 28, 2005
RAWA's View of Afghanistan Protests
Afghan Women's Mission recently asked RAWA (the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) what they thought of the anti-US protests in Afghanistan, the desecration of the Koran, and the prisoner abuses. The answer of RAWA member Selay is printed below:
/(edited for English, removed salutations)/
The recent wave of demonstrations are not something new. Actually in the past one year many Afghan cities witnessed such huge demonstrations mainly organized by people who oppose the policies of Mr. Karzai and want to show their opposition to his pro-warlord actions.
People are fed up with many critical social issues and come out on the streets to protest. When people see that Karzai shakes hands with the most dirty enemies of the Afghan people, who first of all should appear in a court of justice; when people see that millions of dollars given in the name of the reconstruction of Afghanistan goes into the pockets of warlords and no one asks about their brutality (on the contrary Mr. Karzai frequently installs them in key posts); they have no other option but to protest and in many cases it takes a violent form.
The situation in Afghanistan is far more disastrous then what you may imagine. The Karzai administration has done nothing positive but just works hard to gather all the top fundamentalist criminals around himself. Even these days he is trying to portray some key Taliban leaders as "moderates," and tries to share power with them. A few days ago through Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, the government announced amnesty for Gulbuddin and Mullah Omar if they surrender.
All these policies are contrary to the wishes of our people who want justice and the prosecution of top fundamentalist leaders. People are furious but are powerless. Mass protest is the only type of weapon people have to put pressure on the government.
Therefore in such a situation people display their anger by such demonstrations. They find any excuse to come to the streets. In the latest protests, the gross majority of people don't care about the report of Newsweek, it is just an excuse for them to protest. And of course the fundamentalists, especially the party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Al Qaeda, try to make use of these protests and guide it according to their own wishes.
It would be very wrong, however, to stamp these protests as being pro-Al Qaeda. The US and Afghan governments certainly try to raise propaganda that Al Qaeda is behind it. These protests are the continuation of a larger wave which started one year ago all over Afghanistan, and its main reason is the treacherous policy of Mr Karzai and the pro-fundamentalist stand of the US government. People are very much disappointed with what is going on in Afghanistan over the past few years. They were given many promises but none of them were put into practice.
Regarding the desecration of the Koran: of course we are of the opinion that such acts are disgusting because it hurts millions of Muslims around the world. In fact we are against any kind of disrespect and profanity to the sanctity of any religion. However, the desecration of the Koran alone can't move people to protest on such a large scale. Afghans are not more Muslim than the people in other nations that they would risk their lives for it while the Muslims in most other countries did not commit any actions against the Newsweek story.
Abuse and torture of prisoners is simply an inhuman act. We are in favor of internationally known principles regarding treatment of prisoners. Abuse and torture of prisoners in US custody in itself shows the futility of the US government's hue and cry about human rights. It shows that the US government's claims about human rights are there just so it can bomb countries to gain its own interests. Many of the victims in the US custody in Bagram are ordinary people who have been arrested under the name of Al Qaeda and Taliban. The US government shakes hands with the real criminals like Mullah Motawakal etc., but tortures our helpless people. Such tortures are reported by the media to be in Guantanamo and Bagram but in fact it is very common in all US bases across Afghanistan. Whenever they arrest anyone, they remove their clothes and torture them. They know that for Afghans to be naked is the worst torture and a way to weaken their morale.
If the situation in Afghanistan continues like this, we will see larger and more violent protests by the people. Of course the Taliban and Al Qaeda will try to make use of this situation more then others. Unfortunately, democratic-minded forces of Afghanistan are very weak and not being supported by the international community and are not in a position to lead these protest in the best possible way.
For many days there has been news that the US government wants to legitimize its permanent presence in Afghanistan and to make its base here for the next 60 years. This news intensified the protests even more. Karzai gathered Loya Jirga members and fundamentalist leaders like Sayyaf, Rabbani etc. to discuss the issue. In the meeting Sayyaf and Rabbani in their speeches welcomed the idea, but there were some opposition from other members. Though all members were given 2 minutes time to speak they did not allow Malalai Joya to speak!
But we think these protests are a positive sign and show that our people have the consciousness not to accept any government that is in place to fulfill the interests of the US government. It shows Afghans will not accept the occupation of the US forces for long. Fortunately the gross majority of the protesters were students and young people, which shows our young generation has learnt much from the past history of Afghanistan.
News and photos of protests