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Anti-war and human rights advocate speaks out

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She advocates that justice seeking individuals should demand that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other authorities be questioned.

By Jamie Corpuz, The Western Sun, April 13, 2011

Malalai Joya sign her book for supporters
Malalai Joya has survived four assassination attempts. (Western Sun photo by Jamie Corpuz)

In 2010 she was hailed by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world. In that same year she was listed in Foreign Policy Magazine’s annual list of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers.” She has survived four assassination attempts.

Her name is not a household name in the west, but in the Middle East her name ignites passions in the hearts of rebels and resonates outrage among war profiteers. Malalai Joya, a former parliamentarian exiled from her elected position in Afghanistan, spoke at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California Friday, April 8. She is a long way from home.

GWC instructor and Peace Mind and Body club advisor Fran Farazdaghi was “honored” when she was approached with the opportunity to have Malalai present her story on the community college campus as part of the book tour for Joya’s memoir, “A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice.”

Soonali Kolhatikar, the co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, commended Joya’s heroism in her introduction praising her courage stating, “She used her power, she used her presence, to confront the warlords who had threatened her.”

Kolhatihar recounted for the audience members of GWC Forum I the hardships that Joya faced in her battle to challenge the oppressors of true Afghan democracy and how she continues to propagate the anti-war movement by sharing her experiences and publicizing the tragedy of the lives of those who are caught in the crossfire of a war that she accredits with now causing more harm than good.

“It is not enough to take to court the few who commit war crimes, … in my home province last year in one single day 150 people dead from white phosphorous [burns] … and they say sorry and pay $2,000, it is not enough.” Joya said.

She advocates that justice seeking individuals should demand that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other authorities be questioned.

Malalai’s chief argument is that NATO and the United States were gravely mistaken when they endorsed the former warlords of the 1990’s after having deposed the Taliban.

She urged that the greatest way that the “peace loving people of the west” could aide Afghanistan was by investing in schools, in non-profit organizations, and by supporting the Afghan grass-roots democratic movement.

She testified that bombing and killing do not help the woman and children who are raped and disfigured, nor the student protesters that are beaten and murdered. She contends that subsidizing war efforts only parlays corruption, asphyxiates the growth of democracy, and breeds fascism.

She cited the outsourcing of an Afghan copper mine contract to the state-owned Chinese Metallurgical Group in 2007 as one of many ways the people of Afghanistan are robbed of profits earned by their own natural resources.

The incident drew much criticism when it was alleged that Afghan minister Mohammad Ibrahim Adel accepted a $30 million bribe to approve the sale of the contract to the Chinese company.

When attempting to enter the U.S. this March to continue her book tour, Joya’s entry visa was denied.

Joya stated the cited reasons were because she was living underground and her technical unemployment, both problems which had in the past been a non-issue with the U.S. State Department.

She explained that it was thanks to an overwhelming amount of petitions and protests by supporters that she was able to have her denial into the country overturned.

Joya suggested the underlying political reasons for the denial were perhaps because she had “exposed some wrong policies,” angering those in power who profit from war.|

What are the right policies? Can Afghanistan achieve peace and democracy on its own?

After 10 years of occupation, is it time to remove the training wheels and allow the people of Afghanistan to learn to do it for themselves? Malalai believes it is.