Rebel and her cause

If women have been the worst hit by the Islam sought to be imposed on Afghanis, the most determined resistance to the fanatics has also come from an organisation of women — RAWA


MEENA Keshwar Kamal (1957-1987) was born in 1957 in Kabul. During her school days, students in Kabul and other Afghan cities were deeply engaged in social activism and rising mass movements. She left the university to devote herself as a social activist to organizing and educating women.

In pursuit of her cause for gaining the right of freedom of expression and conducting political activities, Meena laid the foundation of RAWA in 1977. This organization was meant to give voice to the deprived and silenced women of Afghanistan. She started a campaign against the Russian forces and their puppet regime in 1979 and organized numerous processions and meetings in schools, colleges and Kabul University to mobilize public opinion.

Another great service rendered by her for the Afghan women is the launching of a bilingual magazine, Payam–e–Zan (Women’s Message) in 1980. Through this magazine, RAWA has been projecting the cause of Afghan women boldly and effectively.

Payam–e–Zan has constantly exposed the criminal nature of fundamentalist groups. Meena also established Watan Schools for refugee children, a hospital and handicraft centers for refugee women in Pakistan to support Afghan women financially.

I’m the woman who has awoken

I’ve arisen and become a tempest through the ashes of my burnt children

I’ve arisen form the rivulets of my brother’s blood

My nation’s wrath has empowered me

My ruined and burnt villages replete me with hatred against the enemy

O’ compatriot, no longer regard me weak and incapable,

My voice has mingled with thousands of arisen women

My fists are clenched with fists of thousands compatriots

To break together all these sufferings all these fetters of slavery.

I’m the woman who has awoken,

I’ve found my path and will never return.

— Meena Keshwar Kamal

Her active social work and effective advocacy against the views of the fundamentalists and the puppet regime provoked the wrath of the Russians and the fundamentalist forces alike and she was assassinated by KGB agents and their fundamentalist accomplices in Quetta, Pakistan, on February 4,1987.

(Amnesty International’s inves-tigations subsequent to her killing “strongly indicate that the assassins may have been closely linked to the Hizb–e–Islami)..


The government RAWA wants

Our concept of a government in Afghanistan is very sim ple: it should be based on democratic values and it should ensure freedom of thought, religion and expression and safeguard womens’ rights. It is an obvious fact that the fundamentalists of all kinds use the name of Islam to justify and legitimize their violent madness. Therefore RAWA stands for separation of religion and political process in Afghanistan. Though the fanatic groups label secularism as a ‘communistic’ idea and ‘faith of the infidels’, RAWA firmly believes that only a government with secular orientation can thwart the nefarious designs of these reactionaries from the Dark Ages. It is only through a secular government that the religion of Islam can be prevented from being used as a retrogressive tool in the hands of fanatics. The people of Afghanistan, are Muslims for the past many centuries and they would not let gangs of rapists, murderers and traitors to teach them their faith with a stick once again.

RAWA on the hejab

Besides being mentioned in the Holy Quran, veil is also a part of our culture as it is indeed in Russia and other non-Muslim countries of this region. However, it is the inability of the fundamentalists to understand and improve the economic conditions of the masses which makes them engage themselves in a shameless, cruel and inhuman drive to impose hejab. This is an attempt on the part of the fundamentalists to suppress our women and deprive them of their basic rights. We hold that nobody has the right to instruct Afghan men to grow beard or force the Afghan women to wear hejab. As a token of defiance, and without assigning any priority to it, we will resist wearing veil in the manner the fanatics want us to.

(Communalism Combat Archives: Story from November 1998.)



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