Malalai Joya in the Parliament
Malalai Joya's reaction to the parliament and existence of a large number of human rights abusers in it had a very wide coverage in the national and international media. Here we present portion of reports from some English language newspapers and news agencies.
Le Monde, Dec.20, 2005
Elected from the eastern province of Farah, the young (27-year-old) Malalai Joya was the only discordant voice Monday at a very consensual ceremony. Denouncing the presence of war lords in parliament - as she already had for the Constituent Assembly in 2003 - she asserted that "the men and women of Afghanistan are like pigeons who have been freed from Taliban cages, but whose wings have been cut off and who are in the claws of vampires who suck their blood." "And most of those vampires are to be found in parliament," she added. Directly attacking the American godfather, she added: "President Bush owes us an apology for supporting extremist war lords, the Northern Alliance criminals."
IPS/Pajhwok Afghan News, Dec.18 and 20, 2005
LASHKARGAH, Dec 18 (IPS) - As a new parliament opens in the Afghan capital, Monday, all eyes are on Malalai Joya, a 27-year-old woman, who has emerged as a fearless critic of the warlords that control the country.
In 2003, Joya, then a women's literacy and health worker, had stood up at a public meeting to discuss the new constitution and denounced the factional leaders as - criminals" who should be taken to the world court.
KABUL, Dec 20 (IPS) - Women's activist turned politician Malali Joya on Tuesday picked up where she left off two years ago, condemning Afghanistan's warlords, some of who now sit with her in the Parliament that convened Monday after three decades.
"I can see them sitting here in this House," said Joya, who earned an international reputation when she spoke against warlords and drug smugglers in the Loya Jirga national meeting to discuss the country's constitution in late 2003.
That speech earned Joya, 27, powerful enemies. Despite her immense popularity, which led to her victory in September's parliamentary elections from the border province of Farah, she rarely travels alone. She employs at least 12 security guards -- after at least four assassination attempts -- and is always seen in public wearing a burqa (the veil that covers a woman's body and face from head to toe).
On Monday she told reporters, "I see the future of this parliament as very dark because of the presence of warlords, drug lords and those whose hands are stained with the blood of the people they should be brought to justice."
Joya's accusations were echoed by a group of 20 candidates who blame their losses in the September polls on corruption and vote-rigging and who gathered as the parliament opened Monday. "The current parliamentarians are all smugglers, who made their way to parliament through using force," said failed contender Mohammad Anwar Sultani.
USA Today, Dec.20, 2005
A debate erupted over procedural matters as well as the potentially explosive issue of warlords sitting among the elected representatives.
Malali Joya, a delegate, called for all of Afghanistan's human rights abusers and "criminal warlords" to be brought to justice. Delegates responded by pounding their fists on the tables to demand she sit down. She refused, shouting that it was her right as an elected official to speak.
Asia Times, Dec.21, 2005
Malalai Joya, a female legislator who caused an uproar early in the country's post-Taliban transition by denouncing the role of powerful mujahideen figures, has vowed to stand up against those warlords who have been elected to parliament.
"Today, our people are concerned that the election took place in an armed environment, and that is why our people and the international community should not have expected democratic elections, which didn't take place," Joya said.
"We witnessed that those with money, power and backed by foreign countries came into the parliament. Their presence pollutes our parliament as a legislative source. But we shouldn't forget that some real and true representatives of people also came into this parliament. But, unfortunately, they are in a minority."
The Washington Post, Dec.19, 2005
Parliament member Malalai Joya said the cycle of violence in her country would not end until those who commit violence are punished, rather than being allowed to sit as members of parliament. But she was not optimistic that this would happen anytime soon. "How can our people be hopeful that the parliament will arrange a way to put the war criminals of our country in international or national courts when some of the most famous criminals in the country are in parliament?" she asked.
The New York Times, Dec.19, 2005
Among the legislators are some accused of human rights abuses and many are unhappy at the preponderance of such figures in Parliament. A 27-year-old delegate, Malalai Joya, known for her outburst against them at the constitutional convention a year ago, again denounced their presence in the National Assembly.
"I offer my condolences to the people of our country for the presence of warlords, drug lords and criminals" in the Parliament, Ms. Joya said at an impromptu news conference after the swearing-in ceremony. The people of Afghanistan have recently "escaped the Taliban cage but still they are trapped in the cage of those who are called warlords," she said. Ms. Joya vowed to resign if she saw crimes being committed.
Hers was the only angry voice of the day.
RFE/RL Newsline, Dec.18, 2005
Speaking at a news conference after the National Assembly was inaugurated in Kabul on 19 December, Malalai Joya, a female representative from Farah Province in western Afghanistan, offered her "condolences to the people...for the presence of warlords, drug lords, and criminals," in the parliament, "The New York Times," reported on 19 December. Afghanistan's people "are like broken-winged pigeons caught in the claws of blood-sucking bats after being released from the Taliban cage," Joya said, adding that "most of these bats are in the parliament," AFP reported on 19 December. As a delegate to the Constitutional Loya Jirga in 2003, Joya objected to the presence of former mujahedin leaders in the assembly, calling them "criminals." That comment led to her expulsion from the meeting
ABC (Australia), Dec.20, 2005
Twenty-seven-year old Malalai Joya, one of the new delegates to parliament, said that she was offering her condolences to the people of Afghanistan for the presence of warlords, drug lords and criminals in the new house.
The people of Afghanistan, she said, had only recently escaped the Taliban cage to be now trapped in the cage of the warlords. It was a much needed spark of defiant reality in an otherwise controlled ceremony.
Reuters, Dec.20, 2005
Human Rights Watch says up to 60 percent of deputies are warlords or their proxies, boding ill for efforts to account for abuses and to stamp out a massive drugs trade.
Malalai Joya, a 27-year-old MP, told reporters she was upset by an assembly of “warlords, war criminals and drug lords” and vowed to reveal their crimes, or resign.
The Boston Globe, Dec.20, 2005
But others insisted Karzai needs to clean house in his government before he can expect genuine progress. ''He has to take some serious steps against the enemies of Afghanistan," said member Malalai Joya, an outspoken critic of the factional militia leaders whom she says wield considerable power in both Karzai's government and the new parliament.
The Globe and Mail, Dec.20, 2005
"I hope by being a member of parliament I will be able to serve my people," said Malalai Joya, a 27-year-old woman who holds one of the five seats in Farah in the far west of the country. "I will do my best to stop the warlords and criminals from building any laws that will jeopardize the rights of Afghan people, especially the women."
The Independent, Dec.20, 2005
Human Rights Watch says up to 60 per cent of deputies are warlords or their proxies, boding ill for efforts to account for abuses and to stamp out a massive drugs trade. Malalai Joya, a 27-year-old MP, said she was upset by an assembly of "warlords, war criminals and drug lords" and vowed to reveal their crimes, or resign.
Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), Dec.21, 2005
Analysts expects a thorny contest between the two former warlords for one of the key slot in the new set up…. While Prominent among their staunch critics is Malalai Joya, a female parliamentarian and rights activist. She was stopped to speak against warlords and drug barons in the parliament on Tuesday. A day earlier, Joya held a press conference soon after the maiden session of the parliament slamming the majority of MPs-elect for violating human rights and their involvement in drugs smuggling.
The young Joya come into the limelight when she boldly spoke against warlords and drug smugglers in the Afghan Constitutional Loya Jirga in 2003. Since then, she is the focus of the national and international media inside and outside Afghanistan.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Dec.20, 2005
Malalai Joya represents the western province of Farah in the lower house. Joya is one of the most outspoken critics of the makeup of the new parliament, whose members include warlords, militia commanders, and former Taliban officials. Many of the new legislators also lack political experience.
"I'll try to introduce legislation that will protect the rights of the oppressed people and safeguard women's rights," Joya said. "Those who came here under the name of democracy shouldn't be given the chance to continue their crimes under the slogan of democracy. Which means first, I represent my people here, and secondly, I will also continue my struggle against warlords, no matter what party or sex they belong to. I'll continue my struggle, especially against those parties who destroyed our country. As I am representing my people, I have big hopes."
Joya says she won't discriminate between male and female members of parliament, but says that those who committed human rights abuses and other crimes in Afghanistan's violent past should not be treated equally.