Joya, we democrats from all over the world really love you

by Edu Montesanti Goldoni, Nolan Chart, October 22, 2008

Hated by some in her homeland, beloved and awarded all over the world. Joya's voice echoes as a challenge to the Taliban and feared warlords; a synonym of hope to the Afghan people.

Joya after receiving the award in London
Malalai Joya after receiving the Anna Politkovskaya award in London. (Photos: Jenny Matthews)

Expelled from the Loya Jirga in 2003, and from the Afghan Parliament in 2005 for questioning warlords, who kill her people and traffic drug, Malalai Joya has survived four assassination attempts.

Baroness Warsi declares honoured for meeting Joya: "I wanted to meet Malalai Joya for a long time, and was honoured to receive her at the House of the Lords".

They should know that under the U. S. occupation, Afghanistan has become the world's number one opium producer, and a large part of it smuggled to the U.S. (2) (Joya). Afghanistan dominates the world drug market, 93% of the world's opium supported by the Northern Alliance of warlords (armed tribal leaders). The four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government (3). (Joya)

Did you know that?

The Afghan government has control of only 30% of the country, and where Taliban and local warlords hold power, there is no rule of law. President Karzai is so powerless in the face of "criminal" warlords he is jokingly referred to as the "Mayor" of Kabul (3). (Joya)

Did you know that?

A report by the international women's organization Woman Worldwide has said that millions of Afghan women and girls continue to face discrimination and violence in their day-by-day lives, which has increased over the past year. Both Taliban and Mujahedeen warlords are still accused of raping very young girls, some as young as four years (1). (Joya)

Did you know that?

They should know that Afghan people are facing 9/11 every day. U.S. and NATO forces kill more civilians than enemies of Afghan people (...). Thousands of innocent Afghan women and children have been killed in the U.S. / Nato operations (4). (Joya)

Did you know that?

Apparently, the U.S. troops are here to fight the Taliban, but on the other hand they are fully supporting the Northern Alliance commanders, who are the main seller of weapons and ammunitions to the Taliban. The U.S. soldiers are innocent, because they have been told that they are bringing us democracy. When I spoke in the U.S. early this year [2007], people who lost loved ones in Afghanistan came to me to hug me and cry, and to say that they understand more and more that the U.S. policy in Afghanistan is a mockery of democracy (6). (Joya)

The worst enemies of the Afghan people who brought Osama bin Laden and slaughtered our people and committed unbelievable crimes against its unfortunate women, are now in power backed by the U.S. government (2). The U.S. is happy with the situation in the country (...). They use the Taliban insurgency as an excuse to stay longer in Afghanistan (...). There is no difference between these poeple and Pinochet, Mussolini, Hitler, so on (1). The propaganda to the world about liberating Afghanistan and women, and fighting against terrorists, are lies (4). (Joya)

Did you know that?

No Taliban, no silly Americans occupying their lands with big guns and torture cells (...). The U.S. is not concerned with the main cause behind terrorism in Afghanistan. That is why our people don't consider the U.S. as the "liberator" of our country (...).

I think if Spain and other governments really want to help Afghan people, and bring positive changes, they must act independently rather than becoming a tool to implant the policies of the U.S. government (...). They are exactly following the foot paths of the U.S. government, and have become a tool in the hands of the U.S. to implement its strategic, regional and economic interests (2) . Afghan people today believe that the United States is willing to put us in danger as long as its own regional and interests are met (4) . (Joya)

Did you know that?

In the lines below, you will know what a large part of the world do not know, and will also know why you have never heard about Joya. Be prepared to face the truth; be prepared to fall in love with MALALAI JOYA - ANNA POLITKOVSKAYA AWARD' 2008

Malalai Joya - Early Years

Joya is 30. All her life has been a battle. She loves life, ready to give her own life away for her ideals and for those she loves. She is literally a voice in the desert, the exact meaning of the living religion in a word where prevails, "a written promise which has not been kept".

1982. Joya is four when flees with family from Afghanistan, to Iran and to Pakistan where they live in refugee camps. The Soviet forces invaded Kabul in 1979, oppressing the Afghan people throughout the country, situation which would endure for the next ten years.

Joya is shooled in a Pakistani camp where, interested for refugee lives, hears stories about her fellow citizens - tortures, rapes, cries, nightmares, women who lost husbands, sons and daughters. So, she learns what is going on in her motherland.

A fast learner, Joya very soon starts to teach girls and mothers to read and write - including hers! "I knew our health depended on our education", she said this year to Le Monde, a French newspaper.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban seizes the power in 1995. In Pakistan, the Organization of Promoting Afghan Women's Capabilities (OPAWC) marks Joya, which joins activist girls to estimulate an underground school net to girls in Afghanistan, forbidden by the totally anti-women Taliban. . Joya's parents are afraid of this job because it requires a return to their land, but Joya is decided and insists on encouraging her family.

The New Life in the Old land

In 1998, when Joya is 20, she and family return definitely to their homeland. The Soviet occupation withdrew Afghanistan nine years before, leaving a political vacuum filled by the Taliban and warlords, both supported by the U.S in the fight against Communists.

Joya immediately starts to teach girls at underground schools - earning for this job, a very dangerous activity but she is decided to go on. Taliban has spies who persue girls everywhere, so Joya and her students are used to changing classrooms very often, taking with them a Quran to pretend they are praying.

Joya Is Elected to Loya Jirga, Just to Be Expelled

In December 2003, Joya is elected to Loya Jirga, a 500-seat Assembly called together in order to view a Constitution plan, where she faces beside her the thieves, rapists and torturers she heard all her childhood and adolescence long abroad.

At Loya Jirga, warlords of the Northern Alliance, brought to the power by the U.S., try to undermine all the committees, willing to seize the absolute power taking advantage of the new democracy. It hurts Joya deeply, who thinks to herself, "I have to unmask them! That's intolerable! They are those who turned our country into the nucleus of national and international wars. They were the most anti-women people in the society who brought our country to this state and intend to do the same again. I believe that it is a mistake to give them a second chance. They should be taken to national and international court". (2)

So, Joya is given permission to speak. There are several journalists at Loya Jirga; warlords fill the place. She speaks for two minutes, two minutes which would change her life completely. Joya's hard speech, denouncing warlords crimes, causes a moment of total silence. Then, the furious warlords shouts insulting her, "Unfaithful! Prostitute!", demanding her to apologize. "I'd rather die!". So, Joya is utterly excluded from the present activities. In Afghan streets, crowds cry at her, "Very well! Thank you!".

Largely Supported by the People, Joya Is Elected to Parliament

In November 2005, Joya is elected again: now, to compose the Parliament of Farah, the province of the national capital Kabul. In her mid-20s she became the youngest elected member of the Afghan Parliament, where witnesses the presence of the corrupt warlords and opium lords. At the present time, Afghanistan dominates again world drug market after three years of a meteoric growth which makes, of course, its leaders richer and richer. Now, would Joya keep silent compacting them? "I couldn't betray my people". So, at the Parliament she starts to denounce their presence and acts.

In Mai, 2007 after being constantly offended and even beaten at the Parliament for her fellow members, she is suspended from her office and another terrible story starts to be written.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan beats in 2007 its historical record in opium production: 8,200 tons. President Hamid Karzai is accused of being part of it. This year, grew more and more confrontation in the country, particularly suicidal attacks as in Iraq - years before it was uncommon in Afghanistan, and the U.S.-led occupation forces killed more civilians than ever.

Joya today - "I am moved from house to house on a daily basis. I went to my hometown and a bridge was bombed", she said. My house and office have been attacked. Day by day my life is getting risker" (8). She has received insulting e-mail and telephone calls, and travels with armed guards, and never sleeps two nights in the same house.

Joya has been threatened with spanking, rape and death; hackers have invaded her micro; men devastated her office.

"I have a dream"

"I'm preparing a return to the Parliament where I am rightul. I have a dream. Even many. I dream of women in Afghanistan acting and showing that, if they are given an opportunity, they can do a bright job".

87% of women in Afghanistan suffer domestic violence; rapes are countless, and 80% of the marriages are forced, daughters serve as an exchange currency; suicides are, many times, the only option to flee from misery. "If you knew the number of burned and deformed women at the Hospital of Herat! Education? According to Oxfam, a five-year-old girl goes to primary school, when is 20 to secondary! There is no improvement for this situation, and in the regions dominated by the Taliban, very young girls are often attacked and raped on their way to school, and their schools are burned. Health? Don't exist! Women's expectation of life in Afghanistan is 44 years; every 28 minutes a woman dies in the Afghan hospitals..." (Joya said to Le Monde this year).

Why Have You Never Heard About Joya?

- Why is the USA letting all this happen? (Farooq Sulehria, Counterpunch Magazine, Aug. 18, 2008)

Joya: The USA wants the things as they are. The status quo. A bleeding, suffering Afghanistan is a good excuse to prolong its stay. Now they are even embracing the Taliban. Recently, in Musa Qala, a Taliban commander Mulla Salam was appointed as governor by Karzai. The USA has no problem with the Taliban so long as it’s 'our Taliban’.

Not merely Karzai, but also all these war lords have been sustained in power by the USA. That is why, when there are demonstrations against war lords, there are also demonstrations against foreign troops. People here believe that the warlords are cushioned by the US troops. If the U.S. leaves, the warlords will loose power because they have no base among our people. The people of Afghanistan will deal with these warlords once U.S. troops leave Afghanistan.

To Elsa Rassbach (2), Joya said to the allied troops: (...) "Unlike the U.S government, they will rely on Afghan people and freedom-loving individual and groups, who are the real alternative to the fundamentalists.

"Today we need security and liberation, but in the name of security, the foreign troops deprived us of our liberation. We need international support, but we don't want occupation. Sadly, today Afghanistan has become an occupied country, and the U.S. government is pursuing its regional and economic interests there, while the well-being of the Afghan people seems to be of no value. The U.S nourished and empowered the Northern Alliance even though they are more a danger than the Taliban, as President Karzai himself confessed. And the Taliban are getting stronger simply because the majority of the people do not support the present government.

"We should remember that it was the U.S. who originally supported the Taliban and built them up, and the U.S. also supports the Northern Alliance. The U.S. could easily get rid of a bunch of medieval-minded, illiterate and ignorant people like Taliban. Actually, the U.S. is not serious in its fight against the Taliban and just needs an excuse to prolong its presence in Afghanistan to threaten Iran, China, Central Asia and other Asian powers."

Sonali Kolhatkar (2) said: "Women like Malalai Joya are 'inconvenient' for the Bush administration. That's because Joya echoes the will of her people in calling for an end to warlords, and an end to the U.S. occupation. Bush and his cohorts like to promote the type of women who quietly accept the U.S. narrative and show gratitude for being "saved by the Americans."

That's why you have never heard about Malalai Joya.

Anna Politkovskaya Award' 2008

Anna Politkovskaya was an outspoken Russian journalist and activist, who strongly criticized the Kremlin's war against Chechen rebels. She was killed on October 7, 2006 in her flat in Moscow for exposing courageously human rights abuses in Chechya, the horrible atrocities against civilians.

Ever since, the charity Reach All Woman in War (RAW in War), to her memory, annually awards a woman who, as Malalai Joya, defends woman human rights from an area of war and conflict, and keeps alive the spirit of Politkovskaya.

Malalai Joya visited London to receive on October 6, 2008 the Anna Politkovskaya Award, because "Despite the threats to her own life, she continues in her work to make our shared world a better and safer place. She is a role model for us all, and an excellent example of a Muslim woman who is committed to her religion as she is to her country and politics", said Baroness Warsi. It is one of several Joya's award and noble titles all over the world.

I am a person. I am not better than my people. And the security of all the people in Afghanistan is at risk. My life is at risk more and more each day, because I do not compromise and will not stop my fight while I have blood in my body

I will continue more and more with my struggle because most of my people are with me

They can cut the flower, but they cannot stop the coming of spring

They could kill me, but they could not kill my voice, because it will be for ever the voice of all the Afghan women

Joya, we democrats from all over the world really love you

Sources:

(1) Baronees Warsi Meets Malalai Joya, The Sikh Times, London. October 15, 2008;

(2) Cited by John, the Champion of the Constitution in A Salute to Malalai Joya on the Nolan Chart, from PBS's NOW. August 8, 2008;

(3) Daily Mail. www.dailymail.com;

(4) Bearing Witness: The Afghan Tragedy, The Nation, October 7, 2008;

(5) A Salute to Malalai Joya, John, the Champion of the Constitution. Nolan Chart. August 8, 2008 ;

(6) Elsa Rassbach Interviews Malalai Joya, www.afterdowningstreet.org, Germany. September 18 - 22, 2007;

(7) "I have a dream" - Malalaï Joya: "Je rêve qu'une femme prenne un jour les rênes de l'Afghanistan". Le Monde, Paris. July 24, 2008;

(8) Afghan Woman Rights Campaigner Wins Courage Award. Reuters, London. October 7, 2008.