Afghan Women's Mission
2460 N. Lake Ave. PMB 207
Altadena, CA 91001
(626) 398-6036

March 26, 2003

Sonali Kolhatkar (626) 676-7884


Los Angeles- Tahmeena Faryal, a leading spokesperson for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), is on tour in southern California from April 5th -11th. Faryal will be speaking about the grim situation in Afghanistan, and in particular the continuing difficulties faced by Afghan women. She will also be drawing connections between the ongoing US war in Afghanistan and the new war in Iraq.

On February 24th RAWA held a large march and rally against the US attack on Iraq. Hundreds of mostly women and children marched in solidarity with antiwar activists the world over, especially those in the United States. "Why doesn't the US government, which calls itself the champion of democracy, pay any respect to the voices of millions of anti-war people around the globe?" they asked.

Even as the first bombs began falling on Baghdad, the US began Operation Valiant Strike in Afghanistan, the largest operation since last year. While many in the Bush administration are lauding their campaign in Afghanistan as a model of success for Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan remains grim.  Despite the promises to liberate Afghans, particularly Afghan women, Afghanistan remains highly unstable with warlords, private armies, a return to fundamentalism, and a weak US-backed puppet in power. Much of the promised humanitarian aid has also fallen seriously short. Women's rights in Afghanistan continue to be a serious issue, despite claims by the Bush administration that women have been freed. At their annual International Women's Day event in Pakistan RAWA rejected the US strategy for Afghanistan, which consists of replacing the Taliban with another criminal group, the Northern Alliance.  "We want Afghanistan purged of all sorts of fundamentalism and extremism. In the last!
 23 years, the Afghan warlords, jihadis [Northern Alliance] and Taliban have played havoc with the rights and freedom of the Afghan people. Women's rights have been in particular violated and they have been brutalized for vested interests. We demand the international community to consider the miserable condition of Afghan women."

Afghan Women's Mission (AWM), a US based organization working in solidarity with RAWA, is organizing a tour for Tahmeena Faryal to help raise awareness of Afghanistan. AWM Vice President Sonali Kolhatkar reflected on the importance of US activists remaining vigilant about Afghanistan: "Before September 11th 2001, very few activists in the US knew about what was happening in Afghanistan. After 9/11, we scrambled to learn more about this desperate country which the US was bombing. Today, our attention has once more wandered away from Afghanistan. The truth is that the war is still going on in Afghanistan and it is crucial we link the issue of war in Iraq with war in Afghanistan. In fact, if you want to know what to expect in Iraq, pay attention to Afghanistan."

Security concerns are important for Afghan women and RAWA.  Recently unidentified men shot an administrator of RAWA's Malalai Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.  RAWA has long been persecuted by fundamentalist forces in the region due to their firm stand in favor of women's rights, democracy and secularism. In 1987, RAWA's founder, Meena was brutally assassinated by fundamentalists working with Afghan KGB agents during the Soviet occupation. Since then RAWA members have carried out their work underground, running educational institutions, healthcare centers, and orphanages; as well as carrying out political campaigns targeting the United Nations, and demonstrations for freedom and democracy. Under the Taliban, RAWA members risked their lives documenting human rights abuses and operating underground school networks. Their headquarters remain in the refugee camps of Pakistan, even though much of their relief work takes place in Afghanistan.

RAWA's Tahmeena Faryal has spoken out on behalf of Afghan women all over the United States and the world. In October 2001, she testified before the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on International Relations and Human Rights. She has appeared on Larry King Live and CNN and has featured in articles in the New York Times, the LA Times, and many other US and global publications. Faryal will be available for interviews during her trip to Los Angeles from April 5th - 11th.  Please call 626-676-7884 to schedule an interview.  Her speaking engagements are as follows:

Tuesday April 8th at 8 pm
Social Activism Speaker Series at the California Institute of Technology
LOCATION: Baxter Hall, Caltech Campus
(626) 395-6163,

Wednesday April 9th at 12 noon
LOCATION: Saddleback College Gym (P.E 200) at 28000 Marguerite Pkwy in  Mission Viejo,
(949) 436-1188,

Wednesday April 9th at 7 pm
LOCATION: Arts in Action, 191 W. 7th street, 4th floor, Los Angeles (between Westlake and Bonnie Brae)
(626) 676-7884,

Thursday April 10th at 8 pm
Benefit for Malalai Hospital $50 - $100 donation requested at the door.
LOCATION: 939 San Vicente Blvd, Santa Monica
Call (626) 676-7884 to RSVP