“Occupation will never bring liberation, and it is impossible to bring democracy by war.”

By Travis Lupick, Vancouver Free Press, November 12, 2009

US/Canada version of Joya's book

Canada's scheduled 2011 pullout from Afghanistan can't come soon enough for Malalai Joya.

In an interview with the Straight, the women's-rights activist and the country's youngest member of parliament said she wants all NATO forces out of Afghanistan tomorrow.

“Eight years ago, the U.S. and NATO—under the banner of women's rights, human rights, and democracy—occupied my country and pushed us from the frying pan into the fire,” Joya said by phone from San Francisco. “Eight years is enough to know better about the corrupt, mafia system of [President] Hamid Karzai.”

Joya—who was suspended from office in May 2007 for “insulting the institution of Parliament”—is scheduled to speak in Vancouver on Saturday (November 14) at St. Andrew's–Wesley United Church. The event marks the Canadian launch of her memoir A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice (Scribner, $32.99), which was coauthored by Vancouver activist Derrick O'Keefe.

In the book, Joya recounts tales of her childhood and her entry into social work and activism. She also denounces NATO's presence in Afghanistan as a violent occupation and calls for the criminal prosecution of a number of fellow MPs, whom she accuses of corruption, murder, and war crimes.

Pressed on what she thinks would happen if NATO did withdraw its troops tomorrow, Joya argued that even if the country plunged into deeper violence, the Afghan people would be rid of at least one adversary.

“My people are crushed between two powerful enemies,” she said. “From the sky, occupation forces bomb and kill civilians…and on the ground, the Taliban and warlords continue their crimes.”

Joya noted that even with tens of thousands of troops stationed in Afghanistan, NATO has not been able to bring security to the country. Meanwhile, she said, President Barack Obama has continued the policies of George W. Bush's administration that prop up warlords as well as Islamic fundamentalists such as Abdul Rab al-Rasul Sayyaf, an Afghan MP that the 9/11 Commission Report tied to the attacks on the U.S.

“It is better that they leave my country; my people are that fed up,” Joya said. “Occupation will never bring liberation, and it is impossible to bring democracy by war.”

Joya expressed appreciation for the support she receives around the world and said that Afghanistan remains in need of international aid. But, she cautioned, there is much that western powers must do before they regain the trust of the Afghan people.