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Reinstatement of outspoken woman MP urged

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"Ms. Joya has been an outspoken critic of the heavy presence of warlords and other anti-democratic forces in the Afghan parliament"

Pajhwok Afghan News, November 29, 2007

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

KABUL: More than two dozen international writers and activists have called for the immediate reinstatement of a blunt woman member of Afghan Parliament.

They said the case of Malalai Joya, the 29-year-old elected representative suspended from the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) in May this year, required the urgent attention of the international community.

In a press release emailed to Pajhwok Afghan News on Thursday, 25 activists and writers living in countries whose governments are at war in Afghanistan and back the Hamid Karzai administration voiced support to the suspended parliamentarian.

"Ms. Joya has been an outspoken critic of the heavy presence of warlords and other anti-democratic forces in the Afghan parliament, and for this she has won widespread support," they observed.

In 2005, they recalled, she was elected to parliament as a representative of Farah province. "Such is her popularity that when she was suspended from parliament, spontaneous demonstrations took place throughout Afghanistan to show support for her reinstatement."

Contrary to the claims of the NATO governments, Joya says the West's occupation of Afghanistan has pushed her country "from the frying pan into the fire," empowering assorted warlords and criminals. Joya believes six years of war have not encouraged the spread of women's rights: "We want liberation, not occupation."

In the press release, the signatories said: "We believe the governments of the NATO countries bear a great deal of responsibility for Malalai Joya's security, as they created and prop up the government that has allowed her to be expelled from Parliament. Because she has spoken truth to power, she has been the victim of four assassination attempts and must travel clandestinely and under tight security."

While pledging support for Joya's reinstatement, they called on the governments of the NATO alliance and other countries with troops on the ground to pressure the Afghan government to reinstate her to parliament.

The so-called bravest woman in Afghanistan is a petite 29-year-old, with a soft voice and a polite, reserved demeanor. But when the recently ousted member of parliament speaks of the cost of championing human rights in her home country - and her resolve to continue doing so - her dark eyes command attention.