London ~~ Saturday 25 July 2009, page 30
The big lie of AfghanistanBy Malalai Joya
In 2005, I was the youngest person elected to the new Afghan parliament. Women like me, running for office, were held up as an example of how the war in Afghanistan had liberated women. But this democracy was a facade, and the so-called liberation a big lie.
On behalf of the long-suffering people of my country, I offer my heartfelt condolences to all in the UK who have lost their loved ones on the soil of Afghanistan. We share the grief of the mothers, fathers, wives, sons and daughters of the fallen. It is my view that these British casualties, like the many thousands of Afghan civilian dead, are victims of the unjust policies that the Nato countries have pursued under the leadership of the US government.
Almost eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region.
You must understand that the government headed by Hamid Karzai is full of warlords and extremists who are brothers in creed of the Taliban. Many of these men committed terrible crimes against the Afghan people during the civil war of the 1990s.
For expressing my views I have been expelled from my seat in parliament, and I have survived numerous assassination attempts. The fact that I was kicked out of office while brutal warlords enjoyed immunity from prosecution for their crimes should tell you all you need to know about the "democracy" backed by Nato troops.
In the constitution it forbids those guilty of war crimes from running for high office. Yet Karzai has named two notorious warlords, Fahim and Khalili, as his running mates for the upcoming presidential election. Under the shadow of warlordism, corruption and occupation, this vote will have no legitimacy, and once again it seems the real choice will be made behind closed doors in the White House. As we say in Afghanistan, "the same donkey with a new saddle".
So far, Obama has pursued the same policy as Bush in Afghanistan. Sending more troops and expanding the war into Pakistan will only add fuel to the fire. Like many other Afghans, I risked my life during the dark years of Taliban rule to teach at underground schools for girls. Today the situation of women is as bad as ever. Victims of abuse and rape find no justice because the judiciary is dominated by fundamentalists. A growing number of women, seeing no way out of the suffering in their lives, have taken to suicide by self-immolation.
This week, US vice-president Joe Biden asserted that " more loss of life [is] inevitable" in Afghanistan, and that the ongoing occupation is in the "national interests" of both the US and the UK.
I have a different message to the people of Britain. I don't believe it is in your interests to see more young people sent off to war, and to have more of your taxpayers' money going to fund an occupation that keeps a gang of corrupt warlords and drug lords in power in Kabul.
What's more, I don't believe it is inevitable that this bloodshed continues forever. Some say that if foreign troops leave Afghanistan will descend into civil war. But what about the civil war and catastrophe of today? The longer this occupation continues, the worse the civil war will be.
The Afghan people want peace, and history teaches that we always reject occupation and foreign domination. We want a helping hand through international solidarity, but we know that values like human rights must be fought for and won by Afghans themselves.
I know there are millions of British people who want to see an end to this conflict as soon as possible. Together we can raise our voice for peace and justice.
Saturday July 25 2009
Afghan woman MP lists 'enemies'
By Becky Branford BBC News
: Malalai Joya says she has survived five attempts on her life
Afghanistan's people are trapped between powerful enemies, according to Malalai Joya, an outspoken member of the Afghan parliament.
Ms Joya named those "enemies" as Nato forces who bomb from the sky, the resurgent Islamists of the Taliban, and the country's "warlords".
Speaking to anti-war activists in London she insisted Afghans were capable of governing themselves.
But she dismissed next month's presidential election as a "deception".
Ms Joya technically remains an MP, but has been suspended since 2007, on charges of insulting the parliament after she compared it to a zoo.
She has been called "the bravest woman in Afghanistan", and is well known for her opposition both to the Taliban and to the warlords who backed the American-led campaign to overthrow the Taliban in 2001.
She says she has survived five assassination attempts.
In her address to supporters of the UK's Stop the War Coalition in London, Ms Joya was scathing about Nato operations in Afghanistan. She said the actions of Nato were serving only to further the misery of ordinary Afghan people.
She called for Western taxpayers not to support a situation which she said was causing the death of Afghan civilians and emboldening the Taliban.
She said that under the watch of Nato, drug production in the country had flourished - and that its proceeds were funding the Taliban.
'No functioning democracy'
Ms Joya first came to prominence for a controversial speech to the National Assembly in 2003, when she denounced many of those present as "criminals".
That resulted in her being physically assaulted inside the assembly hall.
Ms Joya has now written a book, Raising My Voice, the aim of which - she says - is to "open the eyes and minds of democratic people around the world".
She says proceeds from the book will go to humanitarian projects in Afghanistan.
These include a medical clinic in Farah province where she used to work.
Despite her own rise within the Afghan electoral system, she says there is no functioning democracy in Afghanistan under current conditions.
The advancement of women is largely an illusion, says Ms Joya
"The election is a showcase for the US government to deceive people around the world," she told the anti-war meeting in London.
"We have a proverb - an old donkey but a new saddle," she added, to laughter from the audience.
"It's not important who is voting, but who is counting the votes."
She said her own case was indicative of the poor state of the democratic system in Afghanistan.
She pointed out that she had been barred from parliament, effectively shut out from the Afghan media, and was in constant danger - so much so that she needed to wear an all-encompassing burka when in public in Afghanistan, to hide her identity.
But at the same time, she said, many parliamentary seats were occupied by "criminal warlords" who should never have been allowed to stand for election in the first place.
And she said the advances claimed for women following the overthrow of the Taliban were largely illusory.
Ms Joya was asked by a member of the audience if she thought Afghanistan would descend into civil war if Nato forces withdrew.
She insisted a civil war was already under way, and foreign troops were doing nothing to stop it.
"No nation can donate liberation to another nation," Ms Joya said, to loud applause from the audience.
"Only nations which liberate themselves can be free."