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Joya challenges her suspension

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Despite occasional warnings from the strongmen, she has been seeking action against war criminals.

Ahmad Khalid Mowahid, PAN, April 5, 2008

Malalai Joya

KABUL: Almost a year after she was kicked out of Parliament for using abusive language against the august institution, Malalai Joya vowed on Saturday she would fight her way back to the Wolesi Jirga.

The outspoken young woman, addressing a news conference along with a lawyer she has hired to fight her case, argued the legal challenge to her ouster was largely delayed by financial resources.

Under Article 70 of the Lower House Rules of Business, she pointed out an elected MP could not be suspended for more than 24 hours. "This (her suspension) was a patently illegal action by Parliament," she insisted.

While stoutly defending her earlier remarks against Parliament, an unrepentant Joya said: "What I had said about the MPs did not convey my message well. I have been told by my compatriots to seek an apology from the animals.

On May 21, 2007, the Lower House scrapped the membership of Joya for the derogatory remarks she mad against legislators including jihadi leaders in a TV interview.

The gutsy woman from the western Farah province was kicked out of Parliament by a majority vote. She was accused of slamming the Parliament as a stable during her interview with the Kabul-based private TV channel Tolo.

At Saturdays media appearance, she divided the legislators into two categories - those genuinely elected by voters and the ones entering Parliament through the backdoor. She was barred from proceeding abroad as a result of pressure the latter group mounted on the government, Joya charged.

She believed the move was not only against the freedom of speech and democratic values, but also ran counter to the constitution. "My case is proceeding in courts," she said, hoping for relief.

Confident of the sacked lawmakers return to Wolesi Jirga, her defence lawyer Muhammad Zaman informed reporters he had moved a Kabul court against the suspension of his client.

Gul Pacha Majeedi, head of a parliamentary panel tasked with legal defence and protecting privileges of parliamentarians, said they had advised Joya to process her case through the commission, but she did not heed the suggestion.

Most Wolesi jirga members voted against Joya, with Speaker Younus Qanuni announcing the cancellation of her membership. Qanuni regretted the action - the first since the establishment of Parliament.

It will be pertinent to recall that Malalai had launched into a tirade against mujahideen leaders, branding them as warlords and rights abusers, during the first Constitutional Loya Jirga in Kabul in 2003.

Despite occasional warnings from the strongmen, she has been seeking action against war criminals. Majority of those accused of war crimes and human rights violations were either members of Parliament or serving in senior government positions, the bold young woman charged.

Her sacking touched off a storm of protest across the country, with supporters seeking immediate reinstatement of the 29-year-old public representative. A number activists and writers living in countries whose governments are at war in Afghanistan and back the Hamid Karzai administration also voiced support to the fired parliamentarian.

Report of the Press Conference of Joya by ATN:

Ousted female Afghan lawmaker fighting to return to parliament

Her lawyer, Mohammad Zaman, said he is hopeful Afghanistan's court system will reinstate Joya.

International Herald Tribune, April 5, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan: An outspoken Afghan lawmaker who was kicked out of parliament after comparing her colleagues to a stable full of animals said Saturday she is trying to win her seat back.

Malalai Joya said the country's constitution doesn't allow lawmakers to throw her out of parliament, and she has hired a lawyer who has met with the chief justice of Afghanistan's Supreme Court.

But Joya hasn't tempered her criticism of the lawmaking body since she was thrown out last May. She said constituents have urged her not to compare members of parliament to animals — because it makes the animals look bad.

"'You have to apologize on behalf of the animals, because you compared these people with those innocent animals,'" Joya said her constituents told her.

She said she could count the number of honest parliamentarians on her fingers, describing the rest as mafia members and criminals.

Joya, a women's rights worker from Farah province, rose to prominence in 2003 when she branded powerful Afghan warlords as criminals during that year's Loya Jirga, a meeting of Afghan leaders that set the nation's constitution after the 2001 fall of the Taliban.

She said her goal is to return to parliament and continue to fight for average Afghans.

Her lawyer, Mohammad Zaman, said he is hopeful Afghanistan's court system will reinstate Joya.

"When they kicked me out of parliament I sent a letter to the Supreme Court and the government hasn't yet made any decision about me," Joya said. "It shows the government isn't paying attention to my case."

The country's parliament was elected in 2005, one year after President Hamid Karzai was voted into office. Elections are supposed to be held every five years — meaning the country should vote again in 2009 and 2010.

Because of the expense of holding back-to-back nationwide elections, officials are looking at proposals to somehow combine the two votes. --AP

Afghan woman MP challenges parliament expulsion

"The parliament's move was not only against freedom of speech and democratic values but it was fully against the constitution," she said

AFP, April 5, 2008

KABUL — An Afghan woman MP controversially expelled from parliament a year ago for causing "insult" to fellow lawmakers said Saturday she had filed a petition for reinstatement.

The war-torn nation's legislature, dominated by former anti-Soviet Islamic warlords, kicked out Malalai Joya after she described fellow MPs as "worse than donkeys and cows" in a television interview last May.

"The parliament's move was not only against freedom of speech and democratic values but it was fully against the constitution," she said, adding that she will fight her way back to the house through legal action.

"It has been two months now that I have filed a petition over my expulsion from the parliament," Joya told reporters in Kabul. "My case is proceeding in courts," she added.

Joya, 29, has attracted attention for her uncompromising-stand against warlords involved in the nation's bloody past conflicts who are now dominating the parliament in which she had a seat.

She repeated her statement, saying; "The comments I had made were even an insult to animals," she said, referring to her May 2007 interview on Tolo TV after which she was expelled from the legislature.

To a question about why she did not appeal against her expulsion earlier, Joya said: "I had two reasons, one it was for security reasons and second I didn't have enough money to hire a lawyer," she added.

Mohammad Zaman Azhar, Joya's lawyer told the same press conference that he would lead her case and was optimistic of victory.

Her expulsion is against the constitution," Azhar added.