Human Rights Theater Festival

In order to promote the cause of peace, there continues to remain a great sense of need to rekindle the hopes of victims and help them survive the brutal consequences of war. Successful peace-oriented efforts can not ignore victims and survivors of conflicts. Since its establishment, Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization (AHRDO)  has pioneered in holding several events in the country to provide opportunity for the truths to be told, heard and exploring new ways of living for the victims and survivors of thirty years of conflict in the country.
On Thursday, May 08, 2010, after a six-day workshop, which was conducted for a group of female and male victims of war by AHRDO a theater festival was held at the office of Foundation of Solidarity for Justice (FSFJ).

The event was attended by representatives of different civil society organizations. The program began with opening remarks by Mr. Khudadad Bisharat from AHRDO. Welcoming the participants and thanking FSFJ for providing venue for the program, Mr. Bisharat briefed on AHRDO, its performance and accomplishments. He then gave a short introduction of participatory theater, which is
an effective tool employed by AHRDO to listen to victims and survivors of war. Following him, Ms. Zahra explained how participatory theater is performed, as well as the difference between participatory theater and classic theater. She then asked the participants to follow the performance carefully so that they could find solutions to the problems reflected in the plays. The play was about a family that fell victim to warfare and suffered tremendously as different phases of the conflict unfolded

The plays depict a family grappling with implications of conflict. Leg of father of the family is paralyzed as a result of a rocket that hit their house and razed it to the ground and the daughter in the family loses her mind in the explosion. The mother tells the memories of these bitter and horrific days to her son who was then small, and now because of illiteracy can not find out any job to feed his disabled family.  The father takes the hand of his disabled daughter and starts begging from shop to shop.

In the second play, the son who was pressured by his father to find a source of income gets out of home and comes across a drug-addicted person who introduces him to a drug-trafficker. The drug-addicted shares his own account of sufferings from war. He recalls how the warlords broke into their house, tied his hands behind his back and killed all his family members. The addicted says that he was about to go crazy before he found solace in drug.  The trafficker promises the boy to buy him anything he wants such as house and car provided that he takes the stuff across the border. In order to escape the excruciating unemployment, the boy is led into drug-trafficking activities.

The third show reflects and focuses Reconciliation Bill and its repercussions. The play portrays a commander and his bodyguards standing at the border. One of his bodyguards says to the commander that they are not finding any prey nowadays. But the other says that they should relinquish such criminal activities. The third bodyguard says furiously: who held those who have looted people’s houses, expropriated people’s land and killed innocent people to account. He continues, asking the Commander! Do you know they have passed reconciliation bill, which grants impunity to all perpetrators. The commander says, yes, they do. The bodyguard interrupts and says: I have lost my family, I will nowise forgive anyone. Other bodyguard says: you are not important enough to forgive. They suddenly see a person trying to take packages of drugs across the border. This is the same person who was led into this activity by another drug-trafficker. These Forum and Debate Theaters were well received by the audiences and spectators answered the questions raised by facilitator, Zahra. The three plays generated space for dialogue and to find out concrete solution to crises / problems reflected in the play through interaction and active participation of present audience. The performances then were followed by identification of problems and finding of solutions by spectators. The spectators replaced actors, coming to the state and presenting their solutions.