About 1,000 women marched through the streets of Peshawar, Pakistan to protest the Taliban militia group, which rules of two-thirds of Afghanistan. Protesters, organized by the Revolutionary Afghan Women’s Association, cried out against Taliban decrees that strip women of their basic human rights. Dozens of young men, including members of the Taliban, approached the women and started fights that resulted in minor injuries.
Since the Taliban gained control of the capital city of Kabul in September 1996 they have passed decrees that forbid girls from obtaining an education, deny women adequate access to healthcare and prohibit women from working outside their homes.
The protestors were also demonstrating against the Taliban opposition group and the Northern Alliance’s so-called “peace talks” that are underway in the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad, according to the Voice of America.
Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban militia and opposition groups agreed on criteria for choosing ulema, or Islamic scholars, who will participate in a commission designed to negotiate peace in the country. Delegates for each side agreed to nominate 20 members who will be bound to implement the commission’s decisions. Neither side will have veto power over nominations.
European Union delegates held talks this weekend with Taliban leaders, including the second-in-command Mullah Mohammad Rabbani, the minister for public health and the deputy foreign minister. EU Delegates threatened to place severe restrictions on humanitarian aid to the country unless restoration of women’s human rights and other violations are considered.
Mukesh Kapila of Britain’s Department for International Development said, “While the European Union is committed to continuing assistance, the nature and volume of assistance is influenced by operating conditions.” He said, “There is a bottom line: if aid cannot be effectively given there is clearly no point in providing it.”
The European Union, composed of 15 member states and commissions, is the largest donor to Afghanistan, granting 150 million dollars to the country in 1997.
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Media Resources: Voice of America, Washington Post - April 28/30, 1998