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RAWA's work continues in the midst of war
Sally Beaumont talks exclusively with Mehmooda, a member of
the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.
Since the beginning of America's "Operation Enduring Freedom"
the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
have continued to provide support, education, and medical attention
for the innocent victims of their devastated country.
With underground schools still running, RAWA have begun educating
the young about their current positions and most importantly about
truth. Speaking to Mehmooda, a RAWA member, she explained to me
the changes which have ensued in their underground classes. "We
have shifted some of our home based classes to the relatively safer
places in all providences subjected to the air strikes. We have
painstakingly tried not to stop the classes so that the students
feel not much depression and fear."
Such classes involve covering the questions many Afghans are asking,
as Mehmooda states, "The same holds true for the women's literacy
courses, but the teachers are mainly trying to educate the women
about the situation: What did the Taliban and their Arab accomplices
do on September 11th in America? Who is Osama and his Al-Qaeda?
What was the role of the U.S. and Pakistan in creating and assisting
these criminals especially during the anti-Soviet war? Why the Northern
Alliance should not seize power? We are raising awareness in the
women, that there are millions of anti-terrorist people in the US
and the West, who are peace loving and have sincere sympathy with
the Afghan people. That they want to fight the germ of terrorism
in a way without any negative effect on the already wounded people
of Afghanistan and many other related points. We do our utmost to
prove to them that notwithstanding our reservations, the current
anti-terrorist war is not at all a religions war or a war against
Islam and Muslims."
The refugee crisis in Afghanistan has escalated severely with an
estimated two thousand Afghans fleeing daily. Many are met with
the Taliban blocking routes and neighbouring countries closing off
their borders. These innocent people are often fired upon and have
no escape. The Islamic Republic of Iran deported over 2300 Afghan
escapees, forcing them back into the war zone, as too did the Pakistani
government, ordering its border guards to open fire on refugees
attempting to enter the country - killing a 23-year old man and
injuring a 13-year old child. Yet RAWA's work continues, supplying
these refugees with much needed medical attention and supplies.
"We have helped hundreds of women with their children to immigrate
to Pakistan and accommodated almost all of them in the camps or
elsewhere. Some of our mobile medical teams are going to stockpile
as many supplies needed in a war situation as possible. We want
to be helpful to our helpless people. That is why even none of the
personnel of our mobile teams have taken refuge in Pakistan."
RAWA have also continued their extremely courageous work of covering
events in their countries using hidden cameras and eyewitness accounts.
And now the world is listening albeit not as much as it should to
the undeniably courageous work of these women and the extreme problems
that have plagued Afghanistan for decades. "We've received
reports of civilian casualties. Few of them have been posted on
our website and the rest are to be translated and posted on the
site. Also we've filmed about 10-hour video footages from recent
destruction due to the strikes, and interviews with victims. They
all have already been given to world media and TV channels in Germany
and other European countries."
"In the past few weeks we've been interviewed by over 500
journalists and publications the world over have published articles
about RAWA. Among them are The Washington Post, The Guardian, The
Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, ABC news, BBC, CNN, NBC
and many more. However the changing situation has not affected our
underground status in Afghanistan or even in Pakistan, because the
Taliban are still at the helm and their Pakistani brethren are very
much active in Pakistan. However, we are still mainly underground
With their current focus and illumination, RAWA's security is being
hindered, even in Pakistan, as Mehmooda states, "Yes, we are
being persecuted in Pakistan more than before and the Taliban are
keeping an eye to hunt any RAWA activist wherever possible. However,
it could be also said that the focus on RAWA has been positive because
the world would know that the women of Afghanistan also resist the
Taliban or other criminal fundamentalist bands like the Northern
Alliance. RAWA is determined to continue the hard struggle against
these enemies of mankind till the end. Anyway for the sake of our
cause and to get the voice of our voiceless women heard around the
world, we have to cope with danger."
From The Paper issue 24 www.thepaper.org.au