Afghanistan: Malalai Joya hailed in Kabul for stand against the nation's parliamentary war criminals Print E-mail

 e-PaperThursday May 31 2007, page 6

Thursday May 30, 2007

New protest against suspension of Afghan female MP


IN PROTEST: Afghan women take part in a demonstration against the parliament's removal of woman legislator Malalai Joya in Kabul May 30. Joya was removed from her post by the lower house of parliament for comparing parliament to a stable.

KABUL --  About 300 people marched through the Afghan capital Kabul Wednesday in the latest in a series of countrywide demonstrations against parliament's removal this month of an outspoken woman legislator.

Men and women, a handful of them hidden beneath blue burqas, shouted slogans in support of Malalai Joya and praised her criticism of fellow MPs who played a role in the 1992-96 civil war that left 80,000 dead in Kabul alone.

Marchers chanted "Down with fundamentalists, down with criminals who are in parliament" as they marched past offices of the United Nations and government ministries.

"She is the only person who is fighting against the warlords - these people who had killed Afghan people during their war," said one protestor, a bearded and elderly farmer named Shah Hussein, from the southern province of Kandahar.

The lower house of parliament suspended Joya, 28, May 21 until parliament is dissolved before the 2010 parliamentary elections after she was shown in a television interview comparing parliament to a stable.

Human Rights Watch said days later that while parliament's rules forbid lawmakers from criticizing one another, MPs had regularly done so without anyone else having been suspended.

Many seats of the parliament elected in 2005 are filled by former heroes of the anti-Soviet resistance accused of rights abuses and war crimes in the subsequent civil war. They are still powerful.

"Some people in parliament are against peace in Afghanistan," said a young teacher, Aria Ahmad. "She says things as they are."

A declaration distributed by organizers of the march said that parliament's "unjust action" had caused "nationwide anger."

Joya, who was elected in her home province of Farah in the 2005 parliamentary polls, was "the rightful representative of her people and no person or organization has the right to suspend her," it said.

There have been a series of small demonstrations in support of Joya in a handful of towns across the country.