By Nour El-Hoda Fouad and Salma Yassin
CAIRO, March 17 (SEE)- Rahnavard Zriab isn’t just an Afghan novelist and literary critic, but a democratic fighter who was jailed during President Taraki’s regime and exiled to France while the Taliban were ruling Afghanistan.
SEE conducted an interview with the Afghan novelist about his own hard experience and current status in Afghanistan.
Here are the interviews’ excerpts
Q. Breifly, who is Rahnavard Zriab?
A. I’m a novelist and I was born in 1944 in Rika Khana district in Kabul. I got my master’s degree in journalism from Britain and was appointed as an editor-in-chief at several media organizations.I was also the head of Afghan Writers Union in the late 1980s.
Q. Can you narrate to us your experience during President Taraki’s regime?
A. It was the worst period ever as I was jailed without even knowing the reason. All People in Afghanistan have also suffered a lot during this time as many human right abuses were perpetrated.
These violations were mainly aiming at suppressing Mujahideen especially in Kabul.
Q. What is the country’s current status?
A. Things have slightly changed right now as some political liberalization prevailed in the past 12 years and we are able to criticize government. On the other hand, there is a lack of intellectual freedom and we can’t discuss ideological issues.
As a result, many writers decided to leave the country searching for their freedom.
Q. Does this mean a possibility of Taliban’s resurgence?
A. I don’t think so as the Taliban are not welcomed anymore and people in the meantime are more reassured compared to the past.
Q. What are the country’s future challenges?
A. Our country faces many future challenges because we are moving into completely new economic, social and political structure and our new values not yet formed.
I finally count on the coming governments that I hope to take counter actions to previous ones.
Q. Do Afghan women get their rights?
A. Some misconceptions established by the Taliban are still affecting women, like their inability to fight for their human rights. As a result, women are widely marginalized and have little to do to influence the country’s course of events.
Q. What about females’ education problems?
A. All previous governments paid no attention to women’s education, so the under-representation of women remained a key feature in social and political forums even in the most developed regions.
Q. Are there no organizations advocating women’s rights?
A. In the 1960’s, there were some of those organizations and on top of them was the Women Democratic Organization (WDO(. They were supposed to have major role in supporting women but their work stopped due to lack of financial support.
Q. How do you see media outlet’s role at the moment?
A. They are destructive forces and have negative effects on the public. What is being published via media channels about neo-liberal capitalist model and the Taliban’s policies are completely destroying people’s minds.
Q. Where do you see Afghanistan among other democratic countries?
A. As I am a good follower and analyst to other democratic countries’ regimes and social circumstance, I can say that comparing Afghanistan with France, Britain or New Zealand is frustrating. There is still a huge gap between those countries and ours especially the lack of ideological freedom.