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Afghan MP fights for women's rights

“Security is more important than food and water for our people,” Joya said

By Blaine van der Griend, The Toronto Observer , November 8, 2007

Malalai Joya
Malalai Joya speaks at Dalhousie University yesterday. (Daily News/Ryan Taplin)

Most Canadians can only experience “hell on Earth” in their nightmares, but for Afghan MP Malalai Joya, it is an every day reality.

Joya was invited to share some of her experiences at Toronto’s Steelworkers Hall at 25 Cecil St. on Nov. 6. She was very outspoken about the horrors that she and other women in Afghanistan face on a day-to-day basis.

Joya says that safety is her main concern and in her view, when the U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan, it did not solve any problems; it escalated them.

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Joya and freedom

Malalai Joya, a former Afghanistan MP, has crossed the country to demand that Canadian troops leave Afghanistan. Tonight, she brings the message to Halifax.

By Angela Day , The Coast, November 8, 2007

Malalai Joya Malalai Joya speaks at Dalhousie University (Daily News/Ryan Taplin)

Six years after Canadian troops were deployed to Afghanistan, Malalai Joya, a former Afghan parliamentarian, speaks from the belly of the so-called beast.

Twenty-nine year old Joya, who was born in Afghanistan but grew up in refugee camps in Iran and Pakistan, is a women's rights activist and former member of the Afghan parliament, the Loya Jirga. Currently, she's on a speaking tour in Canada and will be visiting Halifax this week with an arsenal of words---her weapon of choice in the 'war on terror.'

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"A ticking time bomb"

Ex-Afghan MP speaks out for women

By TOM GODFREY, SUN MEDIA, Toronto Sun, November 8, 2007

Joya in Canada

A controversial Afghan politician who survived four assassination attempts says women and children are the ones suffering the most from the daily fighting and killings in her homeland.

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Controversial Afghan parliamentarian visits Vancouver

Calls on Canada to 'act independently' and break from U.S. policy

Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier, November 7, 2007

She is a politician who is prepared to die.

As a member of Afghanistan's legislature, Malalai Joya says she has received death threats and her house has been shot up for reasons she believes are connected to her criticism of the country's government.

In December 2003, she famously spoke out against the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, saying it was dominated by warlords. She also described the country's 249-seat legislature as worse than an animal stable, "like a zoo." Since her denouncement--and subsequent suspension from the legislature--the 29-year-old Joya said her life is in danger. It has forced her to travel in Afghanistan under a burqa with armed bodyguards.

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Warlords no better than Taliban, says Afghan MP

Taliban make use of the situation and become powerful.

Michael Stittle, CTV.ca News, November 7, 2007

Joya in Canada

As Afghan police scrambled to the scene of a bomb blast Tuesday that killed five lawmakers and dozens of children, Malalai Joya, haunted by death threats and assassination attempts in Afghanistan, sat on the other side of the world, clutching a cup of tea with her eyes cast downward.

"This is not the first suicide bomb in Afghanistan and it will not be the last," she warned. "The problem is that the victims are always innocent victims -- especially children."

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Q&A: "When I Leave My House, I'm Not Sure I'll Make It Back"

Interview with Malalai Joya

IPS, November 7, 2007

Joya in press conference in kabul Afghan lawmaker Malalai Joya, shown at a Kabul press conference in May, speaks in Toronto tomorrow night on "Women and War in Afghanistan." (MUSADEQ SADEQ/AP)

VANCOUVER, Canada, Nov 7 (IPS) - Malalai Joya was four years old when her family fled Afghanistan in 1982 to the refugee camps of Iran and later Pakistan.

Her father was a medical student who lost a foot during the Soviet invasion. Joya returned to Afghanistan in 1998 during the Taliban's reign. During that time she founded an orphanage and health clinic, and became a vocal opponent of the Taliban.

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Pull out troops, politician urges

Canada is supporting a corrupt administration, says suspended parliamentarian Malalai Joy

Isabel Teotonio, Staff reporter, Toronto Star, November 5, 2007

Joya in press conference in kabul Afghan lawmaker Malalai Joya, shown at a Kabul press conference in May, speaks in Toronto tomorrow night on "Women and War in Afghanistan." (MUSADEQ SADEQ/AP)

Canada must pull its troops out of Afghanistan and no longer support a government full of "warlords, drug lords and criminals" if it wants to aid in rebuilding the stricken nation and avoid another 9/11, says a controversial Afghan politician.

"(Canada) must act independently and not follow the policy of the United States," says Malalai Joya, 29, a firebrand currently on a nationwide speaking tour that brings her to Toronto tomorrow night.

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Malalai Joya: "truth has a very strong voice"

In Canada, the government follows the footpath of the U.S. but the people are so great I am speechless about their warm sympathy and support.

By Gina Whitfield, Rabble News, November 5, 2007

Joya in NDP Convention Joya's speech in the NDP convention in Sep.2006 was responded by the audience warmly.

Stephen Harper's government has not seen fit to comment on the case of Malalai Joya, the suspended Afghan parliamentarian who has become known around the world because of her courage in denouncing the warlords and war criminals who have been empowered by NATO and foreign interests in Afghanistan. While Ottawa has thus far kept silent on the issue, we have the story covered. Last month, Gina Whitfield previewed Joya's speaking tour across Canada, and she follows that up with this interview conducted after a week of events across British Columbia.

Gina Whitfield: People here, I think, often wonder how you got elected in the first place [in 2005], given the type of politics you represent and the situation in Afghanistan. Can you explain how you were able to win so much support?

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No more occupation

“Today people are sandwiched between two enemies—the Northern Alliance with the U.S., and the Taliban,” she said.

by Meaghan Kerr, Martlet, The University of Victoria's Independent Newspaper, Nov.1, 2007, Volume 60 No. 13

Joya in Canada Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya headed a rally to end the war in Afghanistan. (Josh Szczepanowski)

“In the name of democracy and peace: dear friends, while Afghans are being marginalized, suppressed and silenced, you give a helping hand to me as a small voice of my suffering people.”

So began a lecture by controversial Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya on Oct. 28 at UVic’s David Lam Auditorium.

Joya spoke as a closure to the Pan-Canadian Day of Action Against War in Afghanistan. The weekend saw major anti-war demonstrations in 21 Canadian cities, and Joya was in both Vancouver and Victoria to speak at events. The 29-year-old critic and activist is traveling across Canada to raise awareness on human rights issues in Afghanistan, particularly women’s rights.

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We don't need Canada's 'heroes,' Afghan MP tells Victoria rally

Material, moral support is welcome, she says, but soldiers unwittingly back U.S., warlords

Richard Watts, Times Colonist (Victoria), October 29, 2007

Joya in Canada Afghan activist Malalai Joya speaks at an anti-war rally at the cenotaph in front of B.C. legislature yesterday. Joya, the youngest member of the Afghan parliament, says Canadian soldiers fighting the Taliban are unwitting agents of U.S. foreign policy. (Photo: Bruce Stotesbury)

Afghan activist Malalai Joya speaks at an anti-war rally at the cenotaph in front of B.C. legislature yesterday. Joya, the youngest member of the Afghan parliament, says Canadian soldiers fighting the Taliban are unwitting agents of U.S. foreign policy.

Afghanistan doesn't need Canada's soldiers but would be grateful for any material and moral support, a female member of the Afghan parliament said yesterday.

Malalai Joya said Canadian soldiers -- "heroes" she called them -- now fighting the Taliban are unwitting agents of U.S. foreign policy, which in itself is supporting an Afghan government dominated by the country's warlords and drug lords.

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'Situation is like hell'

Joya has been a controversial figure since she launched an offensive on MPs she labelled as "warlords, criminals and drug traffickers."

By IRWIN LOY, Vancouver 24 HOURS, October 26, 2007

Joya in NDP Convention Joya's speech in the NDP convention in Sep.2006 was responded by the audience warmly.

Malalai Joya rattled off the names, barely pausing to punctuate her thoughts.

- A five-year-old child, kidnapped and raped. - A grandmother, raped. - An 18-year-old who chose to hang herself rather than be wed to a man 40 years her senior. - A woman who locked herself in a barn and lit it on fire.

For the outspoken Afghan politician, the misery adds up to one thing.

"It should be clear what's going on for women in Afghanistan," Joya told 24 hours in a phone interview this week. "The situation is like hell."

Joya's words were muffled over the crackly phone line from her hotel room in Washington, D.C.

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Suspended Afghan parliamentarian to visit Canada

There are no honourary citizenships on offer for those who deviate from the script that justifies Canada's war in Afghanistan.

by Gina Whitfield, Rabble News, October 24, 2007

Joya in NDP Convention
Joya's speech in the NDP convention in Sep.2006 was responded by the audience warmly.

In the Throne Speech, Stephen Harper included a promise to give honourary Canadian citizenship to Aung San Suu Kyi, a move that was whole-heartedly endorsed by all parties. Who could argue, after all, against highlighting the courageous efforts of a woman who has come to symbolize the struggle for democracy against a repressive regime?

Too bad such a posture by our government stops in Burma. In Afghanistan, where Canada plays a direct military role in backing the government, the Conservatives have remained completely silent about the plight of Malalai Joya, the outspoken 29 year-old who was banned from parliament and lives under constant threat for criticizing the presence of warlords in the Karzai regime.

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Some members of German parliament announce their support to Joya

Against Suspension of Malalai Joya From the Parliament

Berlin, October 15, 2007 (PDF version)

This letter is signed individually by the following members of the German Bundestag (Parliament) and sent to Hamid Karzai:

Kornelia Möller Kornelia Möller Bodo Ramelow Bodo Ramelow
Karin Binder Karin Binder Norman Paech Norman Paech
Klaus Ernst Klaus Ernst Heike Hänsel Heike Hänsel
Sevim Dağdelen Sevim Dağdelen Monika Knoche Monika Knoche

Honourable President Hamid Karzai,

I am writing to you on behalf of unsettling information I have received concerning the suspension of Afghan congress woman Malalai Joya from parliament in May 2007. According to the news coverage on the case of Joya I wish to denounce her dismissal from parliament as well as the recent cases of threats and harassment, persecution and attempts to silence and intimidate the outspoken female politician and women’s rights advocate Joya.

In September 2007 the Left Party parliamentary group has hosted Malalai Joya in Berlin where she took part in several podium discussions and gave a speech on the political situation in Afghanistan. The German population and media were very attentive to her case and are following Joya’s life and political work in Afghanistan carefully. Her talks in Berlin were very successful and reached a great audience.

On May 21, 2007, with a gross majority, the Parliament suspended Joya for three years and ordered the High Court to file a case against her. They also directed the Interior Ministry to restrict her movements. This means she is not allowed to travel outside Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan: Government an 'obstacle' to progress, says MP

"These warlords are like the Taliban, different in appearance but in the end they are the same"

AKI, October 12, 2007

Rome - One of Afghanistan's most outspoken female parliamentarians, Malalai Joya, says there is no democracy in her country and the government is an 'obstacle' to progress.

Malalai Joya, the 28-year-old from the remote western province of Farah, is the youngest member of the 249-seat National Assembly.

Visiting Rome for an international conference on women's abuse, Joya told Adnkronos International (AKI) that the country was dominated by warlords who were a power unto themselves.

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AFGHANISTAN: An Afghan lawmaker's troubles

Did Malalai Joya get kicked out of parliament for demanding progress, or standing in the way?

LINDSAY HOLMWOOD, The Associated Press, Oct.11, 2007 Audio File (MP3)

Malalai Joya in Press Conference in Kabul on May 21 Malalai Joya

Malalai Joya was kicked out of the Afghan parliament -- and got numerous death threats -- after calling the body a "stable" or "zoo" and its members "animals."

Were her criticisms of fellow lawmakers legitimate, or was she simply ignoring a reality of politics in Afghanistan -- that progress can't happen without cooperation from some shady characters?

asap talked to Joya and others about the outspoken lawmaker, who's also the subject of "Enemies of Happiness," a feature documentary distributed by the arts organization Women Make Movies that's won awards at Sundance and other film festivals.

Tags: Audio

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