Thursday, 05 April 2012
'Bravest woman in Afghanistan' tells why she wears the hated burqa
Malalai Joya reasoning about why wearing burqa
Eleanor Hall, ABC, April 5, 2012
ELEANOR HALL: In 2010, Time magazine called her one of the world's 100 most influential people and Foreign Policy magazine listed her among its Top Global Thinkers.
But to many she is simply "the bravest woman in Afghanistan".
Author and human rights campaigner Malalai Joya has been one of the fiercest critics of the Afghan government and the foreign occupation of her country and the latest attempt on her life was just last month.
In 2005 she become the youngest person to be elected to the new Afghan parliament but she was dismissed two years later for continuing to criticise the warlords and drug barons she accuses of destroying her country.
And while she acknowledges some gains for women in Afghanistan since the ousting of the Taliban in 2001 she is a determined critic of the US-led military intervention.
Malalai Joya is in Australia this week and will be speaking at Melbourne University this Easter weekend. She joined me this morning from our Melbourne studio.
Malalai Joya, this is the sixth attack that you've survived. Are you afraid that these will continue and that one day they will kill you?
MALALAI JOYA: Maybe they will be able as they are killing everyday innocent people of my country and this 10 years of occupation tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by occupation forces and terrorist groups and most of the women and children are not bitter at them. I'm working for their rights, I'm working for my people and for my country.
One day if they will be able to eliminate me but I am sure there is many Malalais who will follow this path for justice, for peace and democracy, for woman rights, human rights and against occupation.
ELEANOR HALL: And in order to escape this you not only move houses and have body guards but you also wear a burqa?
MALALAI JOYA: Yeah, this disgusting burqa I believe is a symbol of oppression today give life and safety to millions of women especially in the far provinces not only for me, to give safety to activist woman.
I wish that one day that all women will not wear a burqa but now the standards of occupation and the decades of war, women they are the most and first victims. It is not comfortable but when you compare what they did, you for the good cause, for the good reason to bring woman rights, humans rights, values like democracy, you have to wear this.
When you compare all these problems with the burqa, burqa is nothing, even usual in this kind of disaster situation.
ELEANOR HALL: Indeed. Malalai Joya, you've been calling for the foreign forces to leave your country for years now. Now they are leaving how do you think it will change things for the people of Afghanistan?
MALALAI JOYA: I want to say that they are talking and saying publicly to their people and also through media that they will leave Afghanistan by middle of 2014. It is a big lie and from another hand they are talking about US permanent military bases in Afghanistan. If they leave Afghanistan as in the Taliban time we faced one enemy was Taliban but these 10 years of occupation we've faced three enemies - war lords, Taliban and occupation forces and one big evil the occupation will get lost if really honestly they leave Afghanistan.
We wished it was not military invasion, it was invasion of the schools, (inaudible) hospital but unfortunately the government is a puppet, corrupt mafia are government, mafia regime that over $65 billion of the foreign aid that corrupt regime have been received.
Most of this money has been went into pocked of the war lords even indirectly to the Taliban and has been looted by national and international corrupt NGOs.
Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by occupation forces.
ELEANOR HALL: Certainly that shooting rampage by a US soldier in a village and indeed the US soldiers burning the Koran can't be helping in terms of making the public feel happy about the US presence there, but what do you say to those that say that if the military withdraw, it will mean civil war?
MALALAI JOYA: Yeah, my answer to those who raise this propaganda or has been deceived, have been deceived by this propaganda, I want to tell them that today itself is a civil war, the future civil war if they are going if the troops leave will not be more dangerous than this civil war.
ELEANOR HALL: Clearly the situation in Afghanistan is still terrible for women but surely this is not worse than it was under the Taliban before 2001?
MALALAI JOYA: In many provinces at some point when you compare even worse but let's say not regarding to compare like one terrorist with another terrorist, both is terrorist, both is misogynist, the war lord and Taliban.
ELEANOR HALL: Let me put something to you that the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said just a couple of weeks ago.
MALALAI JOYA: Yes.
ELEANOR HALL: She said that there were big achievements for Afghan women. She said in 2001 life expectancy for women in Afghanistan was just 44 years of age, now it is 62. She said back then almost no girls went to school, today 3 million do and that they make up nearly 40 per cent of all the primary school enrolments, that there are 120,000 Afghan girls graduated from high school, 15,000 enrolled in universities. These are real improvements for millions of Afghan girls, aren't they, or is Hillary Clinton wrong?
MALALAI JOYA: War of Afghanistan is not only military war. This is propaganda war too. Through their mainstream media they are putting dust in the eyes of the people around the world. It is true that some women have access to job and education as you mention now but when you compare that small positive things they did in Afghanistan with the negative, with the shocking news, with the terrible life that woman they have, inhuman life that they have and these violence is day by day increasing more and more, is like a drop in the ocean and imagine if the troops honestly leave, the Taliban and war lords will not receive more dollars, will not get more powerful.
As much as they get more powerful, it is more easier for them to eliminate democratically minded people of my country. Why my life is in danger, why they want to eliminate me? I am not criminal, I am not puppet. I am telling the truth. I stand up against their brutalities and crimes. I do not sit silent. I am a woman.
ELEANOR HALL: Malalai Joya, thanks very much for joining us.
MALALAI JOYA: Thank you, thanks for the interview.
ELEANOR HALL: And that is former Afghan MP Malalai Joya. She is in Melbourne this week and you can hear her speak at Melbourne University and you can listen to a longer version of that interview of our website.
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