Professor Naimatullah Shahrani
Revision Commission of the Constitution
Dear Professor Shahrani and Members of the Commission,
Negar-Support of Women of Afghanistan is honoured to present to the Commission the Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women along with hundreds of thousands of support signatures, which are a sign of public’s full support for equal rights of men and women as citizens in the Constitution. On the basis of these signatures, Negar demands that this equality be respected and reflected in the new Constitution.
As you know, in June 2000, Afghan women in Dushanbe, Tajikistan drafted this Declaration at a time when the Taliban’s fetwas from Mullah Omar were cancelling women’s dignity and basic rights and their religious police was denying the Afghan culture by whipping women in public and calling it Afghan tradition. Through this Declaration Afghan women demonstrated their utter disgust of the Taliban invasion and wanted the state of Afghanistan to restore the basic rights they had enjoyed before the Taliban. The text of the Declaration and the Statement of Support are in Attachment to this letter.
On the international level, this Declaration has received substantial support from around the world. It includes the United Nations, important governments of the world, political leaders, intellectuals, professors and regular folks in different countries. The number of support signatures comes to hundreds of thousands and includes such names as Ms. Nicole Fontaine, President of the European Parliament, Ms. Michelle Aliault Marie, Defense Minister of France, Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative of President Bush for Afghanistan, the Belgian Senate, Ms. Emma Bonino, Italian representative to the European Parliament, Mr. Rohrabacher, American Congressman, Ms. Betty Friedan, renowned feminist of the twentieth century, Ms. Mary MacMakin, famous humanitarian and long-time friend of Afghanistan, Mr. Robert Badinter, lawyer at the International Tribunal, and others.
Inside Afghanistan, in spite of difficult conditions, the last three years, Negar and our friends have worked very hard to obtain support from all over Afghanistan, that includes men and women, young and old, educated and non-literate, urban and rural, internal, external and returning refugees, political leaders, religious leaders, teachers and students, farmers, businesspeople, Mujaheddin, governors, Emergency Loya Jirga delegates, most of the cabinet, military commanders and members of the drafting and revision Commissions of the Constitution. Some of the names include the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, the late Haji Qadir, the late Assem Suhail, President Karzai, Professor Rabbani, Mawlawi Fazl Hadi Shinwari, General Dostum, Mr. Karim Khalili, the late Mrs. Roqia Habib, Ms. Sima Wali, Mrs. Zarghouna Qanooni, Ms. Laila d’Afghanistan, Ms. Sima Samar, Mr. Bahauddin Baha, Mr. Shaker Karger, Mr. Abdullah Ali, Mr. Yussuf Pashtun, Mr. Nazari, Dr. Raheen, Dr. Fayez, Mr. Kazemi, Mr. Aref Noorzay, Commander Yaqub Beg, Dr. Zalmay Rassoul, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Mr. Qanooni, Dr. Abdullah, Mr. Mirwais Sadeq, Mr. Mohammad Akbar Popal, Ms. Zieba Shoresh Shamley, Mr. Abdulhakim Taniwal, Dr. Amin Farhang, Ustad Atta, Commander Daud, Mawlawi Abdulbari Takhari, Mr. Shahzada Massoud, Mr. Alem Razm, Mrs. Najia Zara, Mr. Mohaqeq, Mr. Mirdad Panjshiri, Mr. Latif Pedram, Ms. Muslema, Ms. Mariam Panjshiri, Ms. Farida Abed, Hajjia Said Bibi Naqi, General Helaluddin Helal, Dr. Ellahi, Ms. Amena Afzali, Ms. Siddiqa Balkhi, Mrs. Parween Majrooh Ali, Dr. Rahim Sherzoy, Mir of Gazorgah, and many many thousands more.
The actual signatures will be submitted to your office in boxes of several thousand each. We would like to bring the signatures via a special ceremony to your Commission. This effort is unique in the world. While there have been many signature drives around the world, this Declaration by one of the most victimized groups in one of the darkest historical moments of the world has been totally specific and direct in its demands and powerful in its philosophy. Negar believes that without equal citizenship to both men and women Afghanistan cannot achieve its legitimacy as an independent, sovereign and self-ruling state of the world. It is imperative that the Constitution restores these rights in order to save Afghanistan from remaining a failed state with an uncertain future, and to neutralize the deception of our enemies. This is also the only way to ensure Afghan women’s traditional place of respect in society and prevent a repetition of acts such as those of the Taliban, in the future.
Negar is determined to continue our struggle until the end of the Loya Jirga that will ratify the Constitution. We plan to hold ten conferences about women’s rights and the Constitution in eight provinces. The last conference will be held in Kabul, just prior to the Loya Jirga, with participation of provincial representatives and our friends from abroad. Our final resolution will be distributed to the Loya Jirga delegates.
We thank you for your attention. We request a date to deliver the signatures to the Commission.
We wish the Commission success. We wish the country and nation of Afghanistan victory in this decisive date with history.
Shoukria Haidar, President
Chantal Veron, Director of Education
Nasrine Gross, Washington Representative
Negar-Support of Women of Afghanistan
Tel in Kabul: 070278100 or 0700281694
cc: His Excellency Hamed Karzai, Presidential Palace, Kabul
His Excellency Lakhdar Brahimi, UNAMA, Kabul
His Excellency Zalmay Khalilzad, American Embassy, Kabul