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Afghanistan followed the same fate as dozens of formerly Soviet-occupied

countries after the collapse of Moscow’s Marxist government in 1991. Islamic

factions, which had united to expel the Russian occupiers in 1992, began to

fight among themselves when it became apparent that post-communist coalition

governments could not overcome the deep-rooted ethnic and religious differences

of the members. It was in this atmosphere of economic strife and civil war that

a fundamentalist band of religious students emerged victorious. By 1996, this

group, the Taliban, ruled 90% of the country with a controversial holy iron

hand. The other 10% of the country is tenaciously held by minority opposition

groups led by president Rabbani and military commander Ahmed Shah Massoud and

aided by foreign Taliban adversaries. This Northern Alliance shares critics’

objections to the Taliban’s extreme fundamentalist methods and especially scorns

Pashtun ethnic chauvinism. Today only Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and

Saudi Arabia recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate ruling party. The

United Nations still considers Massoud head of State, the US advocates a broad

based government and others favor Rabbani, Zahir Shah, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar or

other opponents as rulers of Afghanistan. The Taliban claim to follow a pure,

fundamentalist Islamic ideology, yet the oppression they perpetrate against

women has no basis in Islam. Within Islam, women are allowed to earn and control

their own money, and to participate in public life. The 55-member Organization

of Islamic Conference has refused to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s

official government. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, regarded by many as an

ultraconservative, fundamentalist organization, has denounced the Taliban’s

decrees. Female employment and education is restricted or banned. Women must

stay at home. If necessary, women who do leave the house must be accompanied by

a male relative and cover themselves with a burqa (an ankle-length veil with a

mesh-like opening in front of the eyes). Non-religious music, cassette tapes, TV

and movies are all banned. Multi-colored signs are prohibited. White socks are

forbidden (either because they are considered a sexual lure or because they

resemble Afghanistan’s flag). Children cannot fly kites, play chess or play with

the pigeons since it distracts them from their religious studies. Men must wear

beards or face prison until their shaven whiskers grow back. Paper bags are

banned since the paper might have been recycled from old Korans and lower level

windows must be blackened to prevent males from inadvertently catching women in

compromising states. In order to guarantee that men and women observe the new

rules, the Taliban have employed a moral police force (Agents for the

Preservation of Virtue and Elimination of Vice) to search for violators. The

purported brutal treatment of offenders by the moral police has led Amnesty

International to classify the conduct a "reign of terror." Prior to

the Civil War and Taliban control, especially in Kabul, the capital, women in

Afghanistan were educated and employed: 50% of the students and 60% of the

teachers at Kabul University were women, and 70% of school teachers, 50% of

civilian government workers, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women. Some

examples of gender apartheid follow: A woman who dared to defy Taliban orders by

running a home school for girls was shot and killed in front of her husband,

daughter, and students. A woman caught trying to flee Afghanistan with a man not

related to her was stoned to death for adultery. An elderly woman was brutally

beaten with a metal cable until her leg was broken because her ankle was

accidentally showing from underneath her burqa. Women have died of treatable

ailments because male doctors were not allowed to treat them. Many women, now

forcibly housebound, have attempted suicide by swallowing household cleaner,

rather than continuing to live under these conditions. 97% of Afghan women

surveyed by Physicians for Human Rights exhibit signs of major depression. The

Taliban creates fallacies t maintain control. The following is an excerpt from

____ newspaper in 199_. The Taliban emerged in early 1994 from the Sunni

religious schools (called madrassat) near Quetta, Pakistan, at a time when

factional fighting and resulting lawlessness were at their height. Originally a

small band of warriors from the majority Pashtoon tribe, their numbers swelled

as they met with increasing success. Their take-over of the southern Afghan city

of Kandahar, in April 1994, was welcomed by its citizens, who had long suffered

under corrupt and brutal mujehadeen commanders. The Taliban (the name derives

from the Arabic word for student) quickly established order in Kandahar,

disarming all factions and the general population. The Taliban leader of the

faithful, amir ul-momineen, Mohammed Omar, is a former mujahedin and is a mullah

from Kandahar. A Pashtoon city, Kandahar has accepted the Taliban’s version of

sharia (Islamic law), which is more or less consistent with local traditions.

Today it is peaceful. The Taliban subsequently swept through south-western

Afghanistan, and arrived in Herat, close to the Iranian border, in September

1995. On 27 September 1996 the Taliban took control of Kabul. Little resistance

was offered by retreating government forces. The Taliban version of Islam is an

interpretation of the Koran(i-sharif) and derived from Pashtunwali, the Pashtun

tribal code. Initially welcomed Taliban has stopped the abuse of power,

increasing dogmatism and ‘gender apartheid’ , which was unchecked by the former

so khown ‘Mujahid Warriors’.Taliban-controlled areas appear to be relatively

calm. Most Afghans give high marks to the Taliban for their ability to bring

security to the sizeable territory under their control. Checkpoints in Kabul,

Logar, and Paktia Provinces are lightly manned and non-threatening; guns are not

in evidence among the general populace in cities and villages. International oil

interests are in fierce competition to build pipelines through Afghanistan to

link Caspian Sea oil and gas reserves to Central and South Asia.

California-based UNOCAL, a U.S. energy company, led the CentGas consortium that

planned to build an oil and gas pipeline through Afghanistan. The Taliban stood

to gain $100 million a year from this pipeline. UNOCAL announced it was

suspending the project at the end of 1998, citing in part, pressure from

feminist organizations protesting the company’s involvement with the Taliban.

Other U.S. and international corporate interests are vying for business in the

country. Recently, Telephone Systems International (TSI), a New Jersey-based

telecommunications firm, reached an agreement with the Taliban to install a

satellite-based system throughout Afghanistan. Corporate investment under

current conditions could mean billions of dollars to shore up the Taliban regime

without regard for women’s rights. I have compiled a few things individuals can

do to help this situation. introduce RAWA and RAWA activities to individuals,

groups, schools, organisations, and other congregations in your community stage

protests, marches, demonstrations in support of RAWA and in solidarity with

Afghan women organise gatherings, meetings, seminars, etc. to highlight the

situation of Afghan women under the fundamentalists write to Pakistan

authorities voicing your protest and support for RAWA in events of government or

non-government violence against our organisation (assassination of our founding

leader in Pakistan; and maltreatment of RAWA collaborator by Pakistani

government secret service agents in Islamabad, April 28, 1997; by Taliban

hooligans on RAWA demonstration, April 28, 1998; of RAWA and its etc.) invite

RAWA members to speak on its activities, situation of Afghan women, etc. give

coverage to reports on Afghanistan and Jihadi and Taliban crimes in your

publications, or somehow make people in your community aware of them (for those

who know Persian, Pashtu or Urdu:) translate RAWA writings and articles for us

into major languages, particularly English sell our , (in Farsi, Pushto, Urdu

and English) and audio of patriotic and revolutionary songs in your community

against advance payment of price and postage costs to us help our with funds,

any and all school supplies, etc. help our hospitals with funds, medicines and

medical supplies donate computers and copiers for our publications and our

training courses for refugee women and children donate films with revolutionary

and anti-fundamentalist themes (preferably with sub-titles in Persian or, if not

available, in English) and also books, reference books, encyclopaedias,

dictionaries, periodicals, etc. for our resource centre for anti-fundamentalist

education donate funds to cover postage/freight costs of medicines, books and

school supplies which friends in Europe and America have collected and donated

to us but which we unfortunately cannot receive because postage/freight charges

are not included donate camcorders, cassette duplicators, sound mixing

equipment, CD recorders, special equipment for RAWA’s documentation centre of

Jihadi and Taliban crimes make other donors aware of the womens? needs.

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