Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: One Year Later

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E-mail: info_at_afghanwomensmission.org

A little over a year has passed since the United States began bombing Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. Today Afghanistan is being held up as a successful example of US intervention. But close examination of the facts suggests that Afghans have paid a very high price for freedom from the Taliban. The Afghan Women’s Mission presents a one day conference on Saturday the 19th of October from 10 am to 5 pm at the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church (3300 Wilshire Blvd) to examine the effects of US intervention on the Afghan people, and particularly Afghan women. The conference is called “Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: Women’s Rights, Collateral Damage, and Puppet Regimes.”

Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire, and keynote speaker for the October 19th conference said, “As the body count of the World Trade Center was revised downward from the initial high of 6,700 to the current 2,819, that in Afghanistan rose from 20-37 on October 8th to 3,215 today.” Herold adds, “The U.S. mainstream corporate media has resisted portraying the carnage caused by U.S. bombs in Afghanistan.”

Aside from the collateral damage from US bombs in Afghanistan, the conference will focus on the status of Afghan women. Sonali Kolhatkar and Neesha Mirchandani, Vice Presidents of the Afghan Women’s Mission, will speak in depth about whether Afghan women are free today, and about the Afghan women’s resistance, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). According to Kolhatkar, “President Bush told us that Afghan women have been freed. This is in direct contradiction to the fact that Afghan women have little or no power in the new government, little or no access to food and education, and still experience the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world.”

The conference will also focus on analyzing the political process of the “Loya Jirga” this summer. As the US heads toward a war on Iraq in stage two of the so-called War on Terrorism, it is important to examine Afghanistan one year later. Dr. Jim Ingalls will deconstruct the US role in the Loya Jirga and the re-establishment of Afghan war-lords. Ingalls’ latest paper published in the September issue of Z Magazine, is entitled “The US and the Afghan Loya Jirga: A Victory for the Puppet Masters.”

The conference will also feature speakers from Palestine, Iraq and Colombia in order to draw the connections between the conflicts in those nations and Afghanistan.

There will be videos by Meena Nanji and Renee Bergan, workshops on Afghanistan’s history, American political activism and fund raising, as well as informational display tables, and a photo exhibit of Afghan refugees. Hand-made crafts by Afghan women will also be available on sale to benefit the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). The conference will conclude with performances by community artists such as music bands, Cihuatl Tonali, and SoRiMoDum, and poet, Emma Rosenthal and DJ Kool Aid of La Paz.

There will be a suggested donation of a $10 registration fee, although all are welcome and no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Participants can register for the conference by emailing their name to conference@afghanwomensmission.org or filling out the registration form at www.afghanwomensmission.org.

The conference has been sponsored and endorsed by many community organizations including 90.7 fm KPFK radio in Los Angeles, Sol Foundation, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, the Office of the Americas, the American Friends Service Committee, Anti-Racist Action and more.

The Afghan Women’s Mission, an organization dedicated to working with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, is a group of people moved to action by the plight of Afghan women. The mission was founded in January 2000 in response to the compelling need for adequate hospital facilities in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan.

Established in 1977, RAWA is the oldest women’s organization in Afghanistan and it has stood for the ideals of democracy, secular government, universal suffrage, human rights and women’s through the Soviet invasion and occupation, the civil war that ensued, and the Taliban rule.

More information about the plight of Afghan refugees is available on the RAWA website, www.rawa.org. More information about the Afghan Women’s mission is available on the website www.afghanwomensmission.org.

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