SAHAR SABA, a representative of Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan who has attended the Public Hearing in Hyogo, Japan, for the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan, speaks to FLAG OF UNITY on the current stage of the Afghan people's struggles for peace and justice. (February 27, 2003)
-- What is your impression on the Hearing?
The Public Hearing was a great success not only for the organizers from the executive committee of the International Criminal Tribunal but also for the Afghan people themselves whose country is going to be forgotten by the international community. On the behalf of RAWA and Afghan people we would like to thank all of the great Japanese supporters who worked hard to organize this tribunal in favor of our people. We congratulate them for their successful endeavors.
Presentations made by the professors at the Hearing with regard to international law were also wonderful. No country has the right to interfere into internal affairs of another country. Taliban and other Afghan fundamentalist groups were/are the products of the US government, so somehow the US had the right to punish their stooges but not in the expanse of killing of thousands of our innocent civilians, who were already victims of their wrong policies in our land. It was much better to stop supporting the Taliban and stop those countries which were directly supporting such kind of fundamentalists as a legitimate government. In addition, the war didn't find any solution for the real conflict. That is why this was really the breach of international law.
One thing I would like to emphasize is that, besides this Tribunal, there must be such tribunals for our criminal leaders, local Jihadis, the Taliban and all those who have committed crimes in Afghanistan. This is really important for us because people want them to be prosecuted for all the crimes that they have committed. This is not something that will happen if we look at this or that government. But the people can do it. It will be great if this also starts from Japan. RAWA, in its own turn, will try to provide such tribunals with documents, eyewitnesses and any kind of information. We know that a large number of bloodsucker Afghan war criminals are enjoying asylum in Western countries but the governments never pay heed to their cry of our people to investigate and put on trail these criminals.
-- How has the foreign support to the fundamentalists been affecting on the human rights situation in Afghanistan?
All of these fundamentalist groups were nothing at the beginning. People hated them. They had a bad name in Afghanistan and didn't have any support among the students in Kabul, or even among the people in local areas and villages. The fundamentalists called themselves Akhwan Muslimeen (Muslim Brothers), but people called them Akhwan-ul Shayateen (Evil Brothers). During a demonstration in Kabul in 70's, one of the hateful fundamentalists killed an intellectual. They were throwing assets on the faces of girls who were going to school or to the university. So they didn't have any kind of popularity.
What gave these fundamentalists today's position was the support from other countries. The US was the main country which supported these different fundamentalists including the Taliban. During the Russian time more than 3 billion dollars were spent and given to the most brutal fundamentalist parties by the US. Pakistan also trained most of these fundamentalists. And Saudi Arabia, India, Iran, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and even the government of Japan unfortunately, have supported them. It was in the name of supporting or defending the war of the Afghan people against Russia.
The fundamentalist ideology was not imposed by foreign countries. But it was neither something that the people originally had in the culture or in the religion. Without guns and money provided from outside, the fundamentalist leaders could not be in this strong position. The fundamentalists who used to be very unpopular among the people suddenly became owners of big refugee camps. Millions of dollars were given to them, and weapons. They all have enormous bank accounts. And the media also played a very important but negative role in making them so famous by describing them as "Freedom Fighters." In fact the support from outside or from the US specially gave them powerful position and accelerated the oppressions in Afghanistan. This can be called one of the most brutal interferences to other countries.
In fact regional and Western powers changed Afghanistan into a stronghold for the fundamentalists who were armed to teeth and free to brutalize our people and especially our women for more than 2 decades.
-- How do you view the Karzai administration? The Japanese government recently announced at an international conference that they will provide official development assistance of US$ 35 million. Do you think Japan's these moves can help improve human rights conditions in Afghanistan?
It is a part of Karzai's political background that he was an advisor to make negotiations between the Taliban and Unocal, a US oil company. Also he was deputy Foreign Minister from 1992-1996 when the fundamentalists were in power in Kabul and different armed groups were fighting for the lust of power. Over 50,000 civilians were killed only in Kabul during these bloody years.
Though he tries to pose as a democrat, people are looking to him on doubtful eyes, criticizing him a lot when he tries to make compromise with the Northern Alliance. He called some of the brutal fundamentalist leaders as, for example, a national hero or a peace-loving man. He doesn't want to say no to anybody. If you listen to his speech, you would hear that Afghanistan tomorrow is a beautiful country. But what in reality he is doing is compromise in fear from the leaders of the Northern Alliance. Lots of people, even taxi drivers in Kabul, say that Karzai is so scared and cannot say what he should. People even call him a good magician because he knows how to deceive people and to say to the international community.
You should not forget that in most parts of Afghanistan the rule of gun still prevails and security is not there. If there is not political stability in a central government which can control, and not a judiciary system which can look after this military system in our country, it is really difficult to control spending the money for the reconstruction.
Please note that the government of Karzai is also not a representative one, its key posts are in the hands of the same criminal people who should first of all appear in the court of justice for their brutalities against our people. For example Karim Khalili, a deputy of Karzai is a leader of Wahdat Party, which is a lackey of Iranian regime and butcher of tens of thousands of our innocent people.
Afghanistan needs a large amount of fund to be reconstructed. The United Nations should and can play an important role in development projects in Afghanistan. But we see today the UN is only in Kabul and not very active while they have some projects. The UN could not proceed any of these development projects if they, first of all, don't start to disarm the soldiers or the armed men in different factions. Peace is not to be maintained without disarmament, and disarmament is possible only through the UN peacekeeping force from a country which was not involved in Afghanistan, which doesn't have its own political and economic interests there.
The Japanese government should not just pour money to the government of Afghanistan. We doubt in current situation if this money is really spent for the people of Afghanistan. In any kind of help and support through those in power who are mainly thieves, billions of dollars would not be spent for the reconstruction and rehabilitation, but rather go to the pockets of these warlords and commanders. We have received many reports from inside the high- ranking government officials that millions of dollars has been garbed by the warlords which were supposed to be spent on humanitarian projects. Millions of dollars goes to the Afghan government from different sources but there is no sign of reconstruction in Afghanistan.
-- Could you deliver a solidarity message to the Japanese peace-loving people?
RAWA puts three main goals for its struggles: Secular Democracy, Social Justice and Liberation of Women. We also believe that our country needs, first of all, mental rehabilitation because the entire generation of my age has seen nothing but blood, gun, destruction, war, killing and torturing. That is why RAWA puts education and health service as a priority of its social activities. We are proud that we are promoting culture of peace, culture of democracy in our society. We want to raise our children peace-loving, democracy-loving human beings. And for this we really need the help and support from the people around the world.
Our message is very simple. We all know that war is destructive and people can never be benefited from it. The peace and freedom of people is the biggest values and these values can only be achieved through the solidarity and sympathy and friendship of the people around the world in different countries. We have had the support of people here or in other countries, but it was not enough. We do need more practical steps in order to really support the fight of people for democracy, for freedom, for peace in Afghanistan.
We are proud of our Japanese supporters and are happy that RAWA has established a lasting friendship with a large number of peace-loving people of Japan. It is hard to express our thanks and regards to our Japanese supporters for their warmth, sympathy and great solidarity with RAWA and Afghan women.
-- Thank you very much.