Posts Tagged ‘women’s rights’

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
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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 >>

Afghan woman knows why U.S. policy is failing

June 11, 2009

John Nichols | The Capital Times (Wisconsin), June 10, 2, 2009

OSLO — The debate about the Obama administration’s plan to surge more than 20,000 additional troops into Afghanistan has been so vapid that you will still hear suggestions that this approach is necessary to protect the people — particularly the women — of Afghanistan from oppression.

Those who argue this brief would be well to consult Malalai Joya. Selected to serve in Afghanistan’s Constitutional Loya Jirga in 2003 and then elected to the Wolesi Jirga (parliament) in 2005 as one of the top vote-getters in the western province of Farah, she is widely seen as the most courageous political figure in the country. This is because, from the start, she has dared to object to the crude political calculus — imposed and supported by the U.S. — which grants amnesty to warlords who have been linked to well-documented war crimes and ongoing corruption.

Continued >>

A Palin Theocracy? God, Oil and Guns

September 12, 2008

By MARJORIE COHN | Counterpunch, Sep 11, 2008

John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate has invigorated a lackluster campaign. The media can’t stop talking about her. Given McCain’s age and state of health (his medical file was nearly 1,200 pages long), Palin would indeed be a heartbeat away from becoming President. But what would a Palin administration really look like?

Palin is a radical right-wing fundamentalist Christian who would love to create a theocracy. She believes we are living in the “end times” which will result in a bloody inferno from which only true Christians will be saved. Palin recently attended a service in her Wasilla Bible Church run by David Brickner, who runs Jews for Jesus, a group the Anti-Defamation League criticizes for its “aggressive and deceptive” proselytizing of Jews. Those who don’t accept Jesus as their savior will burn in Hell, according to Palin’s brand of theology.

As Governor of Alaska, Palin asked her congregation to pray for the natural gas pipeline, which she characterized as “God’s will.” She thinks the war in Iraq is a “task that is from God.” Palin has pushed for creationism to be taught in schools, and she opposes stem cell research.

Palin’s choice to have a Down syndrome child and her teenage daughter’s choice to continue her pregnancy have made evangelical Christians ecstatic. But while she chose pregnancy, Palin would deny a woman victimized by rape or incest the right to choose abortion, and then criminally punish both the woman for having one and her doctor for performing it.

McCain would also love to inject a heavy dose of Christianity into his administration. A year ago, he declared, “The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.” Just about the only issue on which McCain has not flip-flopped is his opposition to abortion rights. The next president will almost certainly make at least one appointment to the Supreme Court. McCain has pledged to appoint judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito; these would also be Palin’s preferred judges. Another conservative on the Court would mean that Roe v. Wade will be overruled. That will return us to back alley abortions with coat hangers.

Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, said that “this election is not about issues . . . This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” The Republicans know they will lose if they really focus on issues such as the economy, the war, healthcare, education, and the environment. They are hoping that pro-choice women who supported Hillary Clinton will gravitate to Palin because she’s a feisty – albeit anti-choice – woman. They are also banking on support from people who cannot bring themselves to vote for a black man.

But those non-evangelicals who back the McCain-Palin ticket do so at their peril. Not only will they continue to suffer four more years of the disastrous Bush policies; they will also find themselves living in a Christian theocracy.

Marjorie Cohn is president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She is author of Cowboy Republic. Her articles are archived at www.marjoriecohn.com.(The views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer; she is not acting on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild or Thomas Jefferson School of Law)

Disaster in Afghanistan

September 10, 2008

John W. Warnock | Global Research,  September 9, 2008

It is difficult to find out what is really going on in Afghanistan. The focus of the mass media is almost entirely on the military activities of the Canadian and NATO forces. There is absolutely no coverage of political developments.  The news on the economy is limited to the state of the poppy industry. This is no accident. The North American media, including the CBC, has strongly supported the U.S./NATO strategy and the administration of President Hamid Karzai. Contrary to the mainstream message, things are not going well.

Rise in civilian casualties

Over the past few weeks NATO forces have killed civilians in a number of incidents, and popular opposition to the western military effort is increasing. On August 22 the United States bombed the village of Azizabad in Herat province; the result was the death of 91 civilians, including over 60 children. Rockets and missiles were also used. Many homes were destroyed. Local citizens stoned the Afghan army when they tried to distribute supplies. NATO forces in Paktika province launched an artillery attack on a village on September 1 as part of a general sweep-and-destroy mission against Taliban forces. Three children were killed and seven injured. That same day U.S. and Afghan forces carried out an overnight raid in Hud Kheil, east of Kabul. A family of four, including two children, were killed when hand grenades were thrown into their house. In Kabul hundreds blocked the main road out of town protesting the military practices of the international forces.

Afghan government and NATO attacks In response to the steady increase of civilian deaths this year, the Afghan parliament passed a resolution in August calling on the Karzai administration to negotiate a new status-of-forces agreement with NATO and United States, making it consistent with Afghan and international law. President Karzai’s cabinet demanded “an end to air attacks in civilian areas, illegal detentions and unilateral house searches.” There is growing opposition to the presence of the occupying forces. The Senlis Council reported in June 2008 that in their most recent recent public opinion survey “more than six out of ten of those interviewed … said that foreign troops should leave.” This is the position taken by many of the democratic parties in Afghanistan. Malalai Joya, the outspoken critic of the Karzai government, has called for all foreign troops to leave the country. She argues that Afghans can settle this dispute better on their own.

The approaching famine

However, the most important current issue in Afghanistan is the drought, the crop failure, and the prospect of famine. This story has received no coverage in the North American media. Over the last winter Afghanistan received well-below normal rainfall and mountain snow pack. The spring runoff was light, and crop yields from irrigated agriculture have been significantly reduced. There are conditions of drought throughout the country. In many areas there are no crops and livestock has perished from lack of pasture. Wheat provides the staple food, and production is 60 percent below average. Recent rains have brought flooding, as the land has been hardened by the drought. Floods are more common because over the past few decades 60% of the woodland has been removed by the population seeking fuel for cooking and winter heating. The jump in fuel prices has raised the cost of the delivery of food from neighbouring countries. Food prices are rising. The price of a 50 kg bag of wheat flour is now $35. One half of the population in Afghanistan lives on less than $2 per day. The government of Afghanistan reports that 42% of the population lives in “extreme poverty”, defined as a per capita income of less than $120 per year. The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan reported in August that “at least four million most vulnerable people have already been pushed into the ‘high-risk food-insecurity ‘ category.” Children are the most vulnerable. One in five children die before the age of five, mainly due to malnutrition. In response, the United Nations and other food agencies have called for an emergency fund of $404 million in order to purchase food. To date less than 20% has been forthcoming from donor countries.

What is happening to women’s rights?

Supporters of the U.S. project in Afghanistan always point to how many girls are now going to school. But as Ann Jones points out, the number cited (5 million) is fewer than half the children of school age. In Kabul 85% are in school; in the Pashtun south, less than 20% and “near zero for girls.” Radio Free Afghanistan’s Jan Alekozai recently toured eastern Afghanistan. He noted that there were schools but no teachers, no chairs and tables, no electricity or water, no books, and no labs. “The participation of women is zero in the provinces,” he argued. While some are going to school “they cannot walk, for example, in a park – or with their families.” In February 2008 Womankind Worldwide (UK) released a survey of the status of women in Afghanistan. They found that 87% of Afghan women report domestic violence, 60% of all marriages are still forced, and 57% of all recent marriages involved girls under the age of sixteen, which is contrary to the law. Ann Jones, who spent a number of years in Afghanistan working for women’s rights, is not surprised. President Karzai’ wife is a qualified gynecologist but does not practice her skills. She remains locked up in the presidential fortress, the Arg, and is not seen by the general public. Since the onset of the 20th century, she is the first wife of a state leader who has not publicly championed women’s rights.

Change of regime in Afghanistan

Few Canadians would know that there is a presidential election scheduled for Afghanistan in 2009. Hamid Karzai has announced that he will run again. After his tour of eastern Afghanistan, Jan Alekozai reported strong opposition to the local warlords and the Karzai government. He judged that Karzai would have a hard time getting 20% of the votes in the 2009 election. The people blame the Americans and NATO for the increase in the power of the warlords. The main opposition to Karzai will come from the United National Front, which is largely a coalition of the warlords and Islamist leaders based in the parliament. They have demanded a change in the constitution to bring in a parliamentary system of government with political parties and elections by proportional representation. The Front is dominated by the Islamist forces from the Northern Alliance. The Front has called for a new international meeting to settle the ongoing civil war in Afghanistan. This would be hosted by the United Nations and include all neighbouring states as well as representation from Afghanistan’s political groups, including the armed opposition. In late August Fazel Sangcharaki, speaking for the Front, stated that many foreign envoys have supported this proposal. But the problem is the opposition of the U.S. government.

Canadian government stresses militarism

The policy of the Canadian government since 2001 has been to put the highest priority on its military role in Afghanistan. In support of the Afghan “war on terrorism”, the Canadian government has been spending around $1 billion per year on the military and only $100 million on humanitarian assistance and economic development. Much of the military budget has been spent on acquiring new military hardware, needed for counter-insurgency warfare.. Just before Stephen Harper forced a fall election, polls emerged which showed that Canadians remain skeptical of the role in Afghanistan. A poll by Ipsos Reid for the Department of National Defence revealed that the majority of Canadians still want Canada to emphasize peacekeeping. A CBC poll done by Environics reported that 56% of Canadians disapprove of Canada’s military role in Afghanistan. Since the March 2008 agreement by the Conservatives and Liberals to extend Canada’s mission to 2011, Afghanistan has largely disappeared from political discussion. The challenge for Canadians is to make this disastrous war in Afghanistan an issue in the current election.

John W. Warnock is a Regina political economist and author of Creating a Failed State: the US and Canada in Afghanistan. (Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, May 2008).


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