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A Salute to Malalai Joya - Afghanistan's Tom Paine

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You never heard of Malalai Joya because, like most of the Afghan populace, she wants the Americans to leave Afghanistan too!

By Jake, the Champion of the Constitution (Libertarian), Nolan Chart, August 8, 2008

Malalai Joya, a brave lady and banned legislator from Afghanistan, fights for justice, human rights, and democracy. She battles both the Warlords in power, the Taliban... and the American Government, which is probably why you have never heard of her.

Malalai Joya winner of Cinema for Peace Award

Malalai Joya, an elected representative to Afghanistan’s parliament since the American invasion, is most famous for publicly denouncing the warlords at the constitutional convention in 2003.

She has survived four assassination attempts.

She speaks out for the women of Farah in a land and time where they have little or no voice.

She speaks out against the Taliban, who used theocratic rule to oppress women and all dissent.

She speaks out against the warlords who ruined the country once before already in the 1990s after the sacrifice of the freedom fighters who fought for their freedom against the Soviets, and are ruining it again after taking power in the political vacuum America explicitly created for them.

She begs for exactly what the USA claims to have given Afghanistan – right to representation and true democracy, or rule by majority. You would think she would be heralded as a heroine by the American press, but this is not the case. If you scan the archives of FOX, ABC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC for anything about this woman there is either absolutely nothing or just a single blurb.

You never heard of Malalai Joya because, like most of the Afghan populace, she wants the Americans to leave Afghanistan too! No warlords, no Taliban, no silly Americans occupying their lands with the big guns and torture cells. In other words, Malalai and the Afghan people just want peace.

You see, you never heard of Malalai Joya because, like most of the Afghan populace, she wants the Americans to leave Afghanistan too! No warlords, no Taliban, no silly Americans occupying their lands with the big guns and torture cells. In other words, Malalai and the Afghan people just want peace. Has their country not suffered enough? Far easier said than done of course, but liberation is a life-long struggle.

Ms. Joya has faced plenty of opposition so far. Besides being threatened with rape and hit with water bottles while in Parliament and having to travel under armed guard and wear a burkha, in May 2007 the current government removed her from office after she compared the parliament to a stable of animals. (She later clarified she meant worse than a stable, as domesticated animals serve a purpose.) She traveled abroad seeking support for her cause in the Western world for several years, but the last reports of her I have found is that her passport was stripped from her earlier this year and she is trying to have herself reinstated to parliament before the ban ends in 2010. I believe she is still alive, so by that definition she is still fighting on.

Joya: "Liberation is not money to be donated; it should be achieved in a country by the people themselves."

Here is an interview excerpt from America’s leading voice of the Afghanistan situation, whom you probably have never heard of her either, to introduce Joya. Her name is Sonali Kolhatkar, Los Angeles radio host and author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence:

Interviewer: "There is a very brave and outspoken woman in the Afghan parliament, named Malalai Joya. She has repeatedly put her own life at risk by denouncing the warlords and calling for an end to the US occupation. She has consistently called out for human rights and real democracy. Has the Bush administration done anything at all to promote or protect courageous women who embody "liberal values" like Malalai Joya?"

Kolhatkar: "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 US occupation. Bush and his cohorts like to promote the type of women who quietly accept the US narrative and show gratitude for being "saved by the Americans." In fact, there are very few such women like that in Afghanistan. Joya speaks for millions of Afghan women when she denounces the warlords. And she has repeatedly put herself in danger. She has nearly been killed at least four times! What this means is that women’s rights are available only to women who do not exercise their rights. And it not just Malalai Joya who is putting herself at risk due to her political activism. I have personally worked very closely with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, and they have been saying the same things for years. Still, RAWA cannot operate openly without putting themselves in danger of physical harm; so they must carry out their work underground. RAWA has NEVER received any offer of help from the US government (although they would refuse it if it anyway to remain politically independent) Like Joya, the women of RAWA are inconvenient – they do not need to be "saved" by America. But they do need a safe Afghanistan and they deserve international solidarity for their brave human rights work."

Here below I have taken the liberty* (no pun intended) of paraphrasing her speech from the start of the 2003 Loya Jirga constitutional assembly:

"My criticism to all my peers is why should we allow the legitimacy and legality of this constitutional assembly to become questionable with the presence of these felons who brought our country to this war-torn condition?

… Please see the committees and what people are whispering about. The chairman of every committee is already selected. Why not put all these criminals on one committee and let them tell us what they want for this nation. These were 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. If they are forgiven by our people, the barefooted Afghan people, our history will never forgive them."

Joya succintly addresses the topic of America in a March 2007 interview with PBS’s NOW:

NOW: "Do you believe that the NATO troops in Afghanistan are helping to improve security?"

Joya: "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. Even they have killed thousands of our innocent civilians during its so-called "war on terror" and continue to target civilians.

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, according to recent reports, are the main sellers of weapons and ammunitions to the Taliban and have made life terrible for people in the north of Afghanistan.

I think that no nation can donate liberation to another nation. Liberation is not money to be donated; it should be achieved in a country by the people themselves. The ongoing developments in Afghanistan and Iraq prove this claim. People of other countries only can give us a helping hand and support.

Unfortunately, other countries involved also play a very passive role in Afghanistan. They are exactly following the foot path 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.

Today Afghan people are deeply suspicious about the "war on terror". 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 implement the policies of the U.S. government. They must align themselves to the wishes and needs of Afghan people and stop any kind of support of the warlords and reactionary and ignorant element within the system. Only then can they gain people's trust and will prove themselves as real friends of Afghan people."

NOW: "What would you like Americans to know about your country?"

Joya: "I want them to know that Afghan people have been victims of the U.S. government's wrong policies in the past three decades following the Cold War. They should know that Afghanistan is not "liberated" at all as trumpeted by the Western media. They should know that their government is playing a chess game with our country and is not interested in its stability. They should know that worse enemies of the Afghan people, those who brought Osama Bin Laden to Afghanistan and slaughtered our people and committed unbelievable crimes against its unfortunate women, are now in power and backed by the U.S. government. They should know that Afghan people are facing a 9/11 everyday. 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 is smuggled to the U.S. Finally they should know that, like all human beings Afghan people love democracy and freedom and dream of a prosperous life. While we hate the war-mongering and criminal-fostering policies of the U.S. government, we feel, acknowledge and thank the sympathies and support of the U.S. people and learn from their humanism and dedication."

I have nothing more to add to her words to my fellow Americans. Although I greatly prefer a republic form of government rather than democracy, whatever form another country's people choose is fine by me. Unfortunately, most people these days do not even know the difference.

Malalai Joya, I salute you!

In Liberty, Jake, the Champion of the Constitution

Malalai Joya Source List

  • Joya’s comprehensive website and source of first picture
  • Rape, Self-Immolations, Prostitution. A bleak future with no freedom for Afghani women under Afghan Warlord-American rule as portrayed by Sky News in June 2008. There is graphic content, but watch it anyways.
  • Malalai Joya’s Speech and video to the Constitutional Assembly in 2003. Go to ‘Joya in Loya Jirga.’
  • Joya speaks out against women and girls being stoned, raped, and led into committing suicide in this September 2006 video. "There’s no security. If they don’t have security, how can we talk about women’s rights, human rights… in Afghanistan."
  • Democracy Now! Interview in June 2007. Interesting section on the warlords, Taliban, and Americans in power. Claims the warlords killed 65,000 in Kabul alone after they took power from the Soviets.
  • PBS Interview in March 2007, see excerpt above. Source of second photo.
  • January 2008 Speech on how Afghanistan is using Islamic law to erode women’s rights
  • BBC Article from November 2005. One of the few in mainstream media, and English at that!

Malalai Joya Quotations

(Not quite as eloquent as Tom Paine yet but getting there, remember English is her second language!)

  • "The support of the innocent people of Afghanistan who do not have power, who do not have money, who are very suffering people, this gives me courage, determination."
  • "They will kill me but they will not kill my voice, because it will be the voice of all Afghan women. You can cut the flower, but you cannot stop the coming of spring."
  • "I strongly believe that they will destroy all of the flowers, but they cannot stop the spring. One day we will have everything in our country."
  • "Never again will I whisper in the shadows of intimidation. I am but a symbol of my people's struggle and a servant to their cause. And if I were to be killed for what I believe in, then let my blood be the beacon for emancipation and my words a revolutionary paradigm for generations to come."
  • "The men and women of Afghanistan are like pigeons who have been freed from Taliban cages, but whose wings have been cut off and who are in the claws of vampires who suck their blood." "And most of those vampires are to be found in parliament." Then "President Bush owes us an apology for supporting extremist war lords, the Northern Alliance criminals."
  • "How can our people be hopeful that the parliament will arrange a way to put the war criminals of our country in international or national courts when some of the most famous criminals in the country are in parliament?"
  • "It doesn't matter to me if they suspend me from Parliament, because they have the power, and they can do whatever they want. But the enemies of our country should realize that they have given me a better chance to fight them."
  • "Our country is being run by a mafia, and while it is in power there is no hope for freedom for the people of Afghanistan. How can anyone, man or woman, enjoy basic freedoms when living under the shadow of warlords? The government was not democratically elected, and it is now trying to use the country's Islamic law as a tool with which to limit women's rights."
  • And what I as a freedom writer strongly identify with: "I am telling the truth, so why afraid?"