By Elizabeth DiNovella, The Progressive Magazine, October 7, 2009

It has now been eight years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan with the promise of building a democratic state and liberating women. The invasion has failed on both counts.

Malalai Joya during her historical speech in Loya Jirga

Malalai Joya is one of Afghanistan’s leading democracy activists. Joya, the youngest person ever elected to its parliament, was suspended in 2007 for her denunciation of warlords and their cronies in government.

“Rather than democracy, what we have in Afghanistan are backroom deals among discredited warlords who are sworn enemies of democracy and justice,” she writes on her website.

Joya became an international figure in 2003 after she fearlessly confronted the Grand Council of tribal leaders in a constitutional assembly.

“Why would you allow criminals to be present at this Loya Jirga?” she said. “They are warlords responsible for our country’s situation. They oppress women and have ruined our country. They should be prosecuted.”

The Progressive had the opportunity to interview Joya for our radio show back in 2006. Her quiet resolve in the face of death threats touched us deeply.

We profiled her courage in a June 2007 article by Matt Pascarella, “The Bravest Woman in Afghanistan.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“Ironically, Joya’s mission to take on the warlords and the drug lords, to promote democracy and women’s rights, appears to echo the rhetoric of the Bush Administration. And yet, according to Joya, rather than live up to that rhetoric, the U.S. government is actively supporting high-ranking officials who have been accused of corruption, drug trafficking, and war crimes, including mass murders. Several of these are in the cabinet of Hamid Karzai.”

Joya in the USA

Joya let us publish an adaption of her speech she gave at the Global Forum on Freedom of Expression, held in Oslo, Norway, June 1-6, 2009.

She predicted that the Afghan elections, held in August, would be a joke.

“Afghanistan has a presidential election scheduled soon, but everyone knows that the election is a show that is throwing dust in the eyes of our people. The actual choice is with the White House to select its next puppet in Afghanistan and give him legitimacy through this show,” she said two months before the fraudulent elections.

“But we Afghans know that despite international condemnation by human rights organizations and protests by Afghan people, Karzai will be the next president with the two criminals as his vice presidents.”

President Barack Obama, who ran on an anti-Iraq War platform, needs to stop this war, too. He needs to listen to people such as Joya.

“It is due to the wrong and devastating policies of the U.S. government and NATO countries,” she said, “that unfortunately today Afghanistan is a mafia state and ranked at the top of the most unstable and corrupt countries in the world.”