Event: Creating Space for Dialogue on Transitional Justice

Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization (AHRDO), in partnership with Community Center for Disabled (CCD), Organization Development for Disabled Women (ODDW) and Kabul Victims group (KVG), and with the support of Foundation for Open Society Institute (FOSI), upon  successful completion of two participatory theatre workshops of victims and widows,   organized an event on March 18, 2010 in district # 13, Kabul so as to create space for dialogue with a wider range of audience and make their voice heard in a reasonably public yet secure space. The two trained groups performed their plays on Women and Transitional Justice.

In addition to AHRDO staffs, trainees, victims’ actors, around 150 participants, mainly ordinary people, and representatives of national organizations such as AIHRC, CCD, ODDW, FSJ, Ertabat Organization, ATWO, local social institutions, educational and cultural centers, and some international experts attended this event, which was held at premises of Organization Development for Disabled Women (ODDW).

The strategic objective of the Event was to broaden the range of discussion on the nature of transitional justice and figure out concrete strategies as how to deal with the legacy of more than thirty years of conflicts in Afghanistan. Both plays were based on the themes covered during the participatory theatre workshops and finally performed by the two victims and widows themselves.

In this event, the representative of AHRDO, Mr. Marifat, had the opportunity to give presentation on the concept, background of Transitional Justice, and finally brief about the implementation status of Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice in Afghanistan. He said in his speech that: “victims should be considered as a key agent to peace-building process and hereby, we can, say that today’s event is a great opportunity to raise voices to be heard and find out concrete strategy as how to move forward”.

The two groups of victims performed their own plays originating from thirty years of conflicts, war impacts and other gross human rights violations in Afghanistan as follow:

1-      The first play focused on thirty years of conflict, highlighting massacres, rapes, torture and other gross human rights violations. In addition, the play also covered the issue of amnesty bill, which was called as a barbaric law in the history of Afghanistan.

2-      The second play reflected further impacts of conflicts and war-effected situation on victims’ families and survivors that continue to be neglected, disabled and victimized.

After the two plays were performed, the audience was given the opportunity to democratically pick up one for re-performance in order to generate space for dialogue and to find out concrete solution to crises / problems reflected in the play through interaction and active participation of present audience.

As a result, the second play was chosen by audience for further interaction and discussion. It was structured to reflect the fate of a family that suffered from absence of justice, which rendered it to be disabled, ignored and consequently left in troubles and dire poverty. This situation rendered some of the family members to leave ordinary life for joining criminal or terrorist groups in order to have the opportunity to get rehabilitated and change their social status.

In conclusion, we had useful interactive discussion and more than seven people from audience came up on the stage to present their solutions for these specific problems of family and the below is the summary:

a.       Social justice is a key element to be considered in development programs and priority should be given to victim survivors

b.      Create sense of power and self confidence through engagement of survivors

c.       Provide vocational trainings for survivors to help them become independent and change their social status gradually.

d.      Victims should be viewed as sole agent for peace-building in Afghanistan as they are experts of problem-solving in their lives.