San Francisco--On April 2, Tahmeena Faryal of the
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) came again to the
U.S. to give an update on the situation in Afghanistan. Last time, in November
2001, the crowds were overflowing. Hundreds had to be turned away. This
time the audience was much smaller, about 100. Yet the need for solidarity is
just as great.
Faryal spoke on the current situation. Afghanistan is
supposedly "liberated," yet after the bombing and vast destruction,
fundamentalism remains, both in the Northern Alliance and among other groups.
The U.S. used the plight of women to justify "Operation Enduring
Freedom," the name for the bombing campaign.
Yet Human Rights Watch concluded recently that post-Taliban
Afghanistan is no different than under the Taliban in many areas. Some women
were able to take off their burkhas, and some men shaved their beards, but there
is no liberation. A recent demonstration demanding basic necessities was
suppressed bloodily, with four people killed outright. Even Hamid Karzai, the
U.S.-installed president, cannot speak freely.
It makes the refugees hesitant to return. Three million
are still outside Afghanistan. The children in the camps are called
"children of garbage" because that's where they scrounge for something
to eat. RAWA is proud to try to bring some education to them, but for most
holding a pencil and learning to write is just a dream.
RAWA was the most mobilized form of resistance to
fundamentalism, yet even today, they cannot have an office in Afghanistan. So
they continue their efforts outside the country. On March 18, RAWA held a
celebration of International Women's Day in Peshawar, Pakistan. They termed the
Hamid Karzai government a total failure, stating that "the Taliban and the
Northern Alliance both looted the country of its freedom and the women of their
due rights. Both were fundamentalists and puppets in the hands of
Later that day, Malalai Hospital's assistant director,
Mr. Mohsin, was shot by fundamentalist terrorists while entering the RAWA
hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Afghanistan clearly needs solidarity. The Afghan people
themselves should rebuild the country. Faryal ended by saying that democracy
cannot be brought in from the outside, and that Afghanistan is a good example
for Iraq: bombing in the name of liberation cannot work.
Published by News and Letters Committees