Afghan MPs scuffle after woman criticises warlords

Former warlords in Afghanistan’s parliament hurled water bottles and rushed at a woman MP

Daily Times, May 8, 2006
Reported by AFP

KABUL: Former warlords in Afghanistan’s parliament hurled water bottles and rushed at a woman MP on Sunday after she accused them of being involved in the deaths of thousands of people.

Malalai Joya said bearded and turbaned MPs who were once warlords in the country’s decades of conflict had to be restrained from physically attacking her after a heated session of the four-month-old parliament. The uproar, in which several MPs rose from their chairs shouting, was shown on television. A cameraman from a private television station said one of the MPs had slapped him across the face while he was filming the scuffle.

Joya, who has had death threats against her after a similar outburst during a meeting to draw up a post-Taliban constitution in 2003, alleged that she had heard a prominent former warlord telling his men “to stab me with a knife”. “Several of them threw water bottles at me and many others rushed towards me to beat me up,” she said in an interview with AFP afterwards. Joya, in her late 20s, said the MPs had reacted angrily to her statement that some of the men who led the resistance to the 10-year Soviet occupation were responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians in a civil war that erupted after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.

Her comments were made in a debate about the anniversary last month of the defeat of communism in Afghanistan in 1993 when the government that replaced the Soviet administration was toppled.

“I told them that we have two types of mujahideen — one who were really mujahideen and the second, those who killed tens of thousands of innocent people and who are criminals. My words sparked their anger,” she said..

Joya caused a similar outburst at a 2003 constitutional Loya Jirga, or traditional gathering, when she said the once-powerful warlords involved in atrocities in the war deserved punishment.

Delegates rushed at her and demanded her expulsion, and had to be kept back by soldiers. The incident catapulted Joya into the international spotlight that was on the country as it emerged from the oppression of the Taliban, which kept women behind doors and barred them from political and economic activities. The parliament, inaugurated in December after the first general parliamentary election in around 30 years, is dominated by former mujahideen but includes MPs eager to push the country along the road to democracy. AFP

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