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Breaking Barriers  / February  2001                                                                                                       <<< Go to index page

Appeal for solidarity for International Women’s Day

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afhanistan (RAWA) has been heroically battling the forces of religious extremism in their homeland since the late eighties (see CC, November 1998). Over the past months the situation in Afghanistan has worsened, impelling them to send out this international appeal. We reproduce this appeal as our campaign of the month with a background note on the situation caused by recent instances of Taliban terror on the local population of Afghanistan.
The result of the ceaseless violence on the Afghan population has increased the number of refugees flowing into Pakistan and other countries.

Dear Friend, 
RAWA, as the only voice for the suppressed and enchained women of Afghanistan, will celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2001 in Pakistan by arranging a function.
RAWA is determined to publicly expose and condemn the catastrophic situation of Afghan people. But we need your help to make this function an impressive and effective event. 
Donations could be sent in cash or a check payable to “Support Afghan Women” to the following address and inform us through email:
International Women’s Day event, Support Afghan Women, 500 S. Azusa Avenue, PMB 330, Azusa, CA 91702, USA 
Please Note  that if you draw the check payable to RAWA or anything else we may NOT be able to cash it.  
Your SOLIDARITY MESSAGE on the occasion would also be highly appreciated. Please send your message soon as we will translate them into Persian and Pashto to be read out in the function.
Our heartfelt thanks in advance, 
8th March celebration Committee, RAWA
E-mails: [email protected], [email protected]
Home Page:
A RAWA member reports on February 8, 2001 on the massacre by the Taliban in Yakaolang in December 2,000.
On returning from the sub-province of Yakaolang (Bamyan, central Afghanistan) a member of RAWA has submitted this report. Her father and uncle lost their lives in that horrible fighting between the Taliban and the Khalili. 
On December 14, 2000 at midnight, while people were exposed to bitter cold and hunger, in the sub-province Yukaolang, the Karim Khalili and Qurbanali Arfani gangs started guerrilla warfare that resulted in the murder of some people from the Taliban side. In the meantime a large number of innocent villagers became the victim of their bullish fighting as well. 
At about 4 am,  the Taliban forces retreated and the armed men of Khalili in the pretext of conducting an investigation started to loot and rob people’s property. Shops of local residents were looted mercilessly and the village of  Bida Muskin were plundered too. This theft and robbery continued for seven days until the Taliban had prepared for retaliation. They struck back on the Bamyan province from the pass of Sad Barg and Shatoo and a very horrible battle continued for more than seven hours between them, which resulted in the loss of one hundred people from Yakuolang, mostly children and aged women and men. When the Taliban entered different villages, on the pretext of supporting Khalili, they dragged people out of their homes and shot them dead. Among the people who lost their lives were Haji Yaqub, Haji Ishaq, Sayed Sarwar, and an engineer Syed Dawad with his four children. 
From the village of Akhundan, Muhammad Mosa son of Khuday Nazar, Marheez son of Sher Muhammad, Ahmad son of Iqbal and about seventeen children were murdered. In the village of Khata Khana in a mosque a number of innocent people took shelter in the vain hope that perhaps the Taliban might not harm them but unfortunately just after taking control of the area they fired rockets on the mosque and left seventy people dead at the spot. Most of them were children and old people who were covered by the walls of the mosque and left there, dead for many days, becoming the meal for wild beasts. But the Taliban were not satisfied, they burnt people’s houses and bulldozed them. They set on fire stocks of wheat and animal fodder. In the village of Quraan the armed men of the Taliban shot a number of small children dead. They killed three peasants by the name of Rajab, Khadim and Hameed in a single house. 
This recent massacre has created even more long queues of refugees to Pakistan and Iran. 
Meanwhile in a related development, the United Nations has called for the immediate end to hostilities in Afghanistan. In this item that appeared in the Pakistani newspaper The News, on February 8, 2001 the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Afghanistan Kamal Hossain has appealed to Taliban Supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar and ousted Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani to refrain from resumption of hostilities. In his letters addressed to both the sides, he also urged for immediate investigations to identify those responsible for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. 
He said: “I am extremely concerned about the reports that are now coming out of Yakawlang district in Hazarajat. I have received numerous accounts of civilians being deliberately attacked and killed and subjected to gross and systematic violations of their human rights.” 
It is reported that in December 2000, the forces of the Northern Alliance captured Yakawlang which was subsequently recaptured by the Taliban militia in the first week of January. 
In the course of this offensive, it was reported that both conflicting parties showed utter disregard for the well-being of the civilian population. 
A United Nations staff member is still missing and it is reported that local humanitarian personnel are among those killed. It is also reported that the alliance forces occupied a hospital and Leprosy Centre that was subsequently attacked by the Taliban troops. 

People and Faith

For over 65 years, they have been telling pious Hindus the auspicious time for birth, marriage, worship and rituals. Who are they? Local Muslims. 
For, the family of Saikh Jahrul Islam, the printing of panjikas - Hindu almanacs or calendars – has been their business for years in Orissa. Pious Hindus follow the panjika for everything, from predictions to horoscope details, marriage, birth, naming their children and festival dates. They also detect good periods for business and travel through it. Jahrul, 52, and his family members who stay in Cuttack city, 30 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, continue his father’s work of publishing and printing of ancient Hindu religious books in their Orissa Kohinoor Press.
Jahrul’s father, Shaikh Aminul Islam, established the press in 1928. “He had established this printing press when there were only five or six press in the entire state. Since then we have been engaged in the printing and publishing of Hindu religious books,” said Jaharul.
But the famous Kohinoor Panjika, which is recognized even in Hindu temples, came later. “When people were looking for an authentic calendar my father started publishing this book in 1935 taking help from experts,” Jahrul said.
Apart from the almanac, the press also publishes famous Hindu texts like the Upanishads and Puranas, and epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
Jahrul says their books are even approved by the priests of the famous Jagannath Temple in Puri town in Orissa, which does not allow anyone except Hindus to enter its precincts. “We are not allowed to enter the Jagannath Temple, but our panjika goes inside and receives high status. I have visited a large number of Hindu temples and spoken on Hinduism,” Jahrul said. Jahrul proudly says their press was one of the centers for the independence movement against British rule in India. “More than a dozen times our press was raided for publishing anti-British books in that (the British rule) period,” Jahrul said, adding the British raided their press, seized all the revolutionary books and banned their publication.
Cuttack has more then 300,000 Hindus and around 30,000 Muslims. And though it has no history of major communal violence, tension grips both communities during Hindu festivals in October and November every year. There have also been sporadic incidents of violent clashes among the community. But Jahrul says such incidents do not affect his work. “Both Muslims and Hindus here respect us,” he said. And his almanac too is bringing about communal unity by recording Muslim and Christian events. “Our panjika also highlights various Muslim and Christian festivals. Most of the Muslims read our panjika to know various dates of festivals. In every page you will find one sentence which gives information to the Muslim communities,” said Jahrul.
His family too participates in the effort. “We are five sisters and four brothers and though the press is looked after by me and my elder brother,the rest of the family too participates in it,” said Jahrul. “We are grooming our children to continue the Hindu book publishing tradition in the future,” he added. Jahrul and his father have received several state and national awards for their contribution to the society.
(India Abroad News Service)

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