Posts Tagged ‘Malalai Joya’

Malalai Joya pins hopes on USA, not Obama

December 10, 2009
by Aaron Glantz, Antiwar.com, December 10, 2009

A Woman Among Warlords from New America Media on Vimeo.

Malalai Joya has been called “Afghanistan’s bravest woman.” When the Taliban ruled her country, she braved death, running an underground girls school. When the US military overthrew the Taliban she ran for parliament.

But that doesn’t mean she’s a supporter of the U.S. military, or President Obama’s decision to double the number of American troops in her country.

“Unfortunately, President Obama’s foreign policy is a lot like [the] criminal Bush,” she said in a sit-down in interview during a recent visit to San Francisco. “He follows war in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Pakistan.”
Joya’s opposition to the U.S.-NATO occupation of Afghanistan began shortly after foreign troops arrived in 2001.

Immediately “after the 9/11 tragedy, my people thought maybe this time the US government will be helpful for our people,” she said. “They were hopeful that Taliban domination has been destroyed maybe this time they will give a chance to justice-loving, democrat-minded people of my country. At least to people who don’t have bloody hands!”

But Joya found that hope dashed quickly – as early as December 2003 – in the first meeting of Afghanistan’s newly-elected constitutional assembly. She looked around the room and saw the United States and NATO had invited a who’s who of the warlords who had destroyed her country to form a new government.

She was 24. And she couldn’t stay silent.

“I wish to criticize my compatriots in this room,” she said amid boos, catcalls and scattered cheers. “Why would you allow criminals to be present at this Loya Jirga, warlords responsible for our country’s situation? Afghanistan is the center for national and international conflicts. They oppress women and have ruined our country. They should be prosecuted. They might be forgiven by the Afghan people, but not by history.”

The chairman responded by throwing her out.

“The sister has crossed the line of what is considered common courtesy,” he said, banging his gavel. “She is banished from this assembly and cannot return. Send her out! Guards, throw her out! She doesn’t deserve to be here.”

But Joya did not give up. She ran for Parliament again in 2005 and was elected a second time.
In 2006, she was physically attacked on the floor of the Parliament, when she said:
“There are two types of Mujahidin” – freedom fighters – “one who were really Mujahidin, the second who killed tens of thousands of innocent people and who are criminals.”

Joya was again expelled from Parliament. One law-maker Jebel Chelgari said that wasn’t enough. She should be punished with a gun, he said. Like many members of post-Taliban Parliament, Joya says Chelgari has a reputation for brutality.

“This cruel man, this non-educated, ignorant man,” she says, “is famous in his province as a head eater. Because he has killed so many people they do not even mention his name. They call him ‘head eater.’”

All together, Joya has survived five assassination attempts. But at least she’s still alive. Other women’s rights advocates have not been so lucky.

She breathlessly rattles off a half dozen prominent women who have been killed by the U.S. and NATO, U.S.-backed warlords, the Taliban and general lawlessness since September 2001.

There is Malalai Kakar, Afghanistan’s most prominent policewoman, who headed up Kandahar Province’s department for crimes against women, who was shot and killed while driving her car on September 28, 2008.

Also among the dead is Sitara Achakzai, who spent the years of Taliban rule in Germany and returned to Afghanistan in 2004 to join women working to promote their human rights and struggling to secure peace. For International Women’s Day on March 8, 2009, she played a major role in organizing a national sit-in of more than 11,000 women in seven Afghan provinces. On April 12, 2009, she was gunned down in broad daylight in front of her home.

“This list can be prolonged,” she says. “When these brave activist women get killed mainstream only reports like a bird has been killed. That is it.”

That these war-lords remain in power is not an accident, she said. They thrive on the drug trade and are actively supported by the United States and other regional powers.

And that arrangement has gotten worse under Obama than Bush, she said, because certain warlords deemed too brutal to take part in the Afghan government under Bush have been invited to the bargaining table under Obama.

One example she cites, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is a 61-year-old veteran of Afghanistan’s three decades of war who gained infamy for rocketing his own capital during a brief stint as prime minister in the 1990s.

Bush had put a $25 million “price on his head” for participating in terrorist actions with Al-Qaeda, she notes, and in 2003 the State Department designated Hekmatyar a “Specially Designated Global International Terrorist”.

This April, however, U.S. officials began meeting with Hekmatyar’s representatives in hope that he would join the government.

So Joya has taken her fight directly to the occupiers. She’s written a book – A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Woman Who Dared to Speak Out – and is touring the very countries that occupy Afghanistan – England, Germany, Canada, and the United States.

Joya says she has hope for the future. If the NATO and the US military leave Afghanistan, she says life will gradually improve.

If “these occupation forces leave Afghanistan and their governments leave us alone then we’ll know what to do with our destiny – if they leave us a little bread and peace, because these war lords and the Taliban have no fruit among the heart of my people. My people hate them.”

In this way, she sees the weakness of Hamid Karzai’s government as a strength, not a cause for concern.

“Resistance of my people is a big hope for my people of Afghanistan. That’s why my message to the great people of the U.S. and the around the world is that your government must leave our country, but you are the ones that must join your hands with us: human rights organizations, justice-loving people and intellectuals, feminist organizations—they are the ones that must not leave us alone. As much as we can, we need your support.”

New America Media, Interview, Video, Text: Aaron Glantz// Video: Cliff Parker and Aaron Glantz

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A troop surge can only magnify the crime against Afghanistan

December 1, 2009

If Barack Obama heralds an escalation of the war, he will betray his own message of hope and deepen my people’s pain

Malalai Joya, The Guardian/UK, Nov 30, 2009

After months of waiting, President Obama is about to announce the new US strategy for Afghanistan. His speech may be long awaited, but few are expecting any surprise: it seems clear he will herald a major escalation of the war. In doing so he will be making something worse than a mistake. It is a continuation of a war crime against the suffering people of my country.

I have said before that by installing warlords and drug traffickers in power in Kabul, the US and Nato have pushed us from the frying pan to the fire. Now Obama is pouring fuel on these flames, and this week’s announcement of upwards of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan will have tragic consequences.

Already this year we have seen the impact of an increase in troops occupying Afghanistan: more violence, and more civilian deaths. My people, the poor of Afghanistan who have known only war and the domination of fundamentalism, are today squashed between two enemies: the US/Nato occupation forces on one hand and warlords and the Taliban on the other.

While we want the withdrawal of one enemy, we don’t believe it is a matter of choosing between two evils. There is an alternative: the democratic-minded parties and intellectuals are our hope for the future of Afghanistan.

It will not be easy, but if we have a little bit of peace we will be better able to fight our own internal enemies – Afghans know what to do with our destiny. We are not a backward people, and we are capable of fighting for democracy, human and women’s rights in Afghanistan. In fact the only way these values will be achieved is if we struggle for them and win them ourselves.

After eight years of war, the situation is as bad as ever for ordinary Afghans, and women in particular. The reality is that only the drug traffickers and warlords have been helped under this corrupt and illegitimate Karzai government. Karzai’s promises of reform are laughable. His own vice-president is the notorious warlord Fahim, whom Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch describes as “one of the most notorious warlords in the country, with the blood of many Afghans on his hands”.

Transparency International reports that this regime is the second most corrupt in the world. The UN Development Programme reports Afghanistan is second last – 181st out of 182 countries – in terms of human development. That is why we no longer want this kind of “help” from the west.

Like many around the world, I am wondering what kind of “peace” prize can be awarded to a leader who continues the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and starts a new war in Pakistan, all while supporting Israel?

Throughout my recent tour of the US, I had the chance to meet many military families and veterans who are working to put an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They understand that it is not a case of a “bad war” and a “good war” – there is no difference, war is war.

Members of Iraq Veterans Against War even accompanied me to meet members of Congress in Washington DC. Together we tried to explain the terrible human cost of this war, in terms of Afghan, US and Nato lives. Unfortunately, only a few representatives really offered their support to our struggle for peace.

While the government was not responsive, the people of the US did offer me their support. And polls confirm that the US public wants peace, not an escalated war. Many also want Obama to hold Bush and his administration to account for war crimes. Everywhere I spoke, people responded strongly when I said that if Obama really wanted peace he would first of all try to prosecute Bush and have him tried before the international criminal court. Replacing Bush’s man in the Pentagon, Robert Gates, would have been a good start – but Obama chose not to.

Unfortunately, the UK government shamefully follows the path of the US in Afghanistan. Even though opinion polls show that more than 70% of the population is against the war, Gordon Brown has announced the deployment of more UK troops. It is sad that more taxpayers’ money will be wasted on this war, while Britain’s poor continue to suffer from a lack of basic services.

The UK government has also tried to silence dissent, for instance by arresting Joe Glenton, a British soldier who has refused to return to Afghanistan. I had a chance to meet Glenton when I was in London last summer, and together we spoke out against the war. My message to him is that, in times of great injustice, it is sometimes better to go to jail than be part of committing war crimes.

Facing a difficult choice, Glenton made a courageous decision, while Obama and Brown have chosen to follow the Bush administration. Instead of hope and change, in foreign policy Obama is delivering more of the same. But I still have hope because, as our history teaches, the people of Afghanistan will never accept occupation.

Joya: End the occupation of my country Afghanistan

November 12, 2009

By Malalai Joya, CommonDreams.org, Nov 1 2, 2009

As an Afghan woman who was elected to Parliament, I am in the United States to ask President Barack Obama to immediately end the occupation of my country.

Eight years ago, women’s rights were used as one of the excuses to start this war. But today, Afghanistan is still facing a women’s rights catastrophe. Life for most Afghan women resembles a type of hell that is never reflected in the Western mainstream media.

In 2001, the U.S. helped return to power the worst misogynist criminals, such as the Northern Alliance warlords and druglords. These men ought to be considered a photocopy of the Taliban. The only difference is that the Northern Alliance warlords wear suits and ties and cover their faces with the mask of democracy while they occupy government positions. But they are responsible for much of the disaster today in Afghanistan, thanks to the U.S. support they enjoy.

The U.S. and its allies are getting ready to offer power to the medieval Taliban by creating an imaginary category called the “moderate Taliban” and inviting them to join the government. A man who was near the top of the list of most-wanted terrorists eight years ago, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has been invited to join the government.

Over the past eight years the U.S. has helped turn my country into the drug capital of the world through its support of drug lords. Today, 93 percent of all opium in the world is produced in Afghanistan. Many members of Parliament and high ranking officials openly benefit from the drug trade. President Karzai’s own brother is a well known drug trafficker.

Meanwhile, ordinary Afghans are living in destitution. The latest United Nations Human Development Index ranked Afghanistan 181 out of 182 countries. Eighteen million Afghans live on less than $2 a day. Mothers in many parts of Afghanistan are ready to sell their children because they cannot feed them.

Afghanistan has received $36 billion of aid in the past eight years, and the U.S. alone spends $165 million a day on its war. Yet my country remains in the grip of terrorists and criminals. My people have no interest in the current drama of the presidential election since it will change nothing in Afghanistan. Both Karzai and Dr. Abdullah are hated by Afghans for being U.S. puppets.

The worst casualty of this war is truth. Those who stand up and raise their voice against injustice, insecurity and occupation have their lives threatened and are forced to leave Afghanistan, or simply get killed.

We are sandwiched between three powerful enemies: the occupation forces of the U.S. and NATO, the Taliban and the corrupt government of Hamid Karzai.

Now President Obama is considering increasing troops to Afghanistan and simply extending former President Bush’s wrong policies. In fact, the worst massacres since 9/11 were during Obama’s tenure. My native province of Farah was bombed by the U.S. this past May. A hundred and fifty people were killed, most of them women and children. On Sept. 9, the U.S. bombed Kunduz Province, killing 200 civilians.

My people are fed up. That is why we want an immediate end to the U.S. occupation.

© 2009 San Jose Mercury News

Holding firm to a moral obligation

October 24, 2009
Morning Star Online, October  23,  2009

I am the wife of Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, who is a serving soldier in the British army. He is an Afghan war veteran and has been charged with desertion after refusing to obey orders to redeploy to Afghanistan in 2007.

For most of the last eight years since the invasion of Afghanistan I, like many other British citizens, have felt detached from the realities of the situation.

It always seemed to be a war that affected other people. It seemed so far away and distant.

Continued >>

Uncle Sam in Afghanistan: Good Help Is Hard to Find

October 23, 2009

By Solomon, Norman, ZNet, Oct 23, 2009
Norman Solomon’s ZSpace Page

Almost eight years after choosing Hamid Karzai to head the Afghan government, Uncle Sam would like to give him a pink slip. But it’s not easy. And the grim fiasco of Afghanistan’s last election is shadowing the next.

Another display of electioneering and voting has been ordered up from Washington. But after a chemical mix has blown a hole through the roof — with all the elements for massive fraud still in place — what’s the point of throwing together the same ingredients?

This time, the spinners in Washington hope to be better prepared.

Continues >>

The three fallacies that have driven the war in Afghanistan

October 22, 2009

by Johann Hari, The Independent/UK, Oct 21, 2009

Is Barack Obama about to drive his Presidency into a bloody ditch strewn with corpses? The President is expected any day now to announce his decision about the future of the war in Afghanistan. He knows US and British troops have now been stationed in the hell-mouth of Helmand longer than the First and Second World Wars combined – yet the mutterings from the marble halls of Washington DC suggest he may order a troop escalation.

Continues >>

Malalai Joya: The ‘war on terror’ is a war on the Afghan people

October 12, 2009
Malalai Joya, Green Left, Oct 10, 2009

Outspoken anti-war and democracy campaigner Malalai Joya was suspended from the Afghan parliament in 2007 for speaking out against corruption and the domination of the country by warlords. US current affairs weradio show Democracy Now has called her “the bravest woman in Afghanistan”. Below is an abridged statement from Joya to Australian anti-war campaigners. The statement was read out at the national protests against the Afghanistan war on October 7. *****

I would like to thank you for your solidarity with the suffering and ill-fated Afghan people and for raising your voice against the wrong and devastating policies of your government in Afghanistan.

Eight years ago, the US and its allies occupied Afghanistan under the nice slogans of “democracy”, “women’s rights” and “freedom”, but today we are as far from these values as we were in 2001.

Days after the invasion, the brutal regime of the Taliban was toppled but another bunch of terrorist warlords of the Northern Alliance, who are no different from the Taliban, were supported by the West and imposed on our people.

Continued >>

Why Afghans Have No Hope in This Week’s Vote

August 19, 2009

by Malalai Joya | CommonDreams.org, Aug 18, 2009

Like millions of Afghans, I have no hope in the results of this week’s election. In a country ruled by warlords, occupation forces, Taliban insurgency, drug money and guns, no one can expect a legitimate or fair vote.

Among the people on the street, a common sentiment is, ‘Everything has already been decided by the U.S. and NATO, and the real winner has already been picked by the White House and Pentagon.’ Although there are a total of 41 candidates running for president, the vast majority of them are well known faces responsible for the current disastrous situation in Afghanistan.

Continues >>

Malalai Joya: The big lie of Afghanistan

July 27, 2009

Inquiries into the 954 deaths in police custody since 1990 have all proved fruitless – and then this historic case comes along

In 2005, I was the youngest person elected to the new Afghan parliament. Women like me, running for office, were held up as an example of how the war in Afghanistan had liberated women. But this democracy was a facade, and the so-called liberation a big lie.

On behalf of the long-suffering people of my country, I offer my heartfelt condolences to all in the UK who have lost their loved ones on the soil of Afghanistan. We share the grief of the mothers, fathers, wives, sons and daughters of the fallen. It is my view that these British casualties, like the many thousands of Afghan civilian dead, are victims of the unjust policies that the Nato countries have pursued under the leadership of the US government.

Almost eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region.

You must understand that the government headed by Hamid Karzai is full of warlords and extremists who are brothers in creed of the Taliban. Many of these men committed terrible crimes against the Afghan people during the civil war of the 1990s.

For expressing my views I have been expelled from my seat in parliament, and I have survived numerous assassination attempts. The fact that I was kicked out of office while brutal warlords enjoyed immunity from prosecution for their crimes should tell you all you need to know about the “democracy” backed by Nato troops.

In the constitution it forbids those guilty of war crimes from running for high office. Yet Karzai has named two notorious warlords, Fahim and Khalili, as his running mates for the upcoming presidential election. Under the shadow of warlordism, corruption and occupation, this vote will have no legitimacy, and once again it seems the real choice will be made behind closed doors in the White House. As we say in Afghanistan, “the same donkey with a new saddle”.

So far, Obama has pursued the same policy as Bush in Afghanistan. Sending more troops and expanding the war into Pakistan will only add fuel to the fire. Like many other Afghans, I risked my life during the dark years of Taliban rule to teach at underground schools for girls. Today the situation of women is as bad as ever. Victims of abuse and rape find no justice because the judiciary is dominated by fundamentalists. A growing number of women, seeing no way out of the suffering in their lives, have taken to suicide by self-immolation.

This week, US vice-president Joe Biden asserted that “more loss of life [is] inevitable” in Afghanistan, and that the ongoing occupation is in the “national interests” of both the US and the UK.

I have a different message to the people of Britain. I don’t believe it is in your interests to see more young people sent off to war, and to have more of your taxpayers’ money going to fund an occupation that keeps a gang of corrupt warlords and drug lords in power in Kabul.

What’s more, I don’t believe it is inevitable that this bloodshed continues forever. Some say that if foreign troops leave Afghanistan will descend into civil war. But what about the civil war and catastrophe of today? The longer this occupation continues, the worse the civil war will be.

The Afghan people want peace, and history teaches that we always reject occupation and foreign domination. We want a helping hand through international solidarity, but we know that values like human rights must be fought for and won by Afghans themselves.

I know there are millions of British people who want to see an end to this conflict as soon as possible. Together we can raise our voice for peace and justice.

Countries ‘wasting money and blood’ in Afghanistan

July 4, 2009

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, July 3, 2009

By News Online’s Sophia Gardner

Malalai Joya

Malalai Joya gained international attention after accusing Afghanistan’s leaders of war crimes. (Reuters : Ahmad Masoodd)

A politician who has been described as “the bravest woman in Afghanistan” says that military intervention is not the way to find democracy in the war-torn county.

Malalai Joya gained international attention for standing before Afghanistan’s constitutional grand assembly and accusing her country’s leaders of war crimes, human rights violations and supporting the Taliban.

Continued >>


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