US: Time Magazine names Malalai Joya in world’s 100 most influential, then distorts her message Print E-mail

In Partnership with CNN ~ Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010

The 2010 TIME 100

In our annual TIME 100 issue we name the people who most affect our world

HEROES Malalai Joya

By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

To be a woman growing up in Afghanistan under the Taliban and to survive is in itself a major feat. To be so lucky as to become literate in a place where girls are shrouded and denied even fresh air is close to a miracle. To start underground schools and educate girls under the noses of turbaned, self-appointed defenders of virtue and forbidders of vice is truly extraordinary.

But to get a seat in parliament and refuse to be silent in the face of the Taliban and warlord zealots shows true fiber. When Malalai Joya did this, her opponents responded in the usual way: expulsion from parliament, warnings, intimidation and attempts to cut her life short. She has survived all of it.

Malalai, 31, is a leader. I hope in time she comes to see the U.S. and NATO forces in her country as her allies. She must use her notoriety, her demonstrated wit and her resilience to get the troops on her side instead of out of her country. The road to freedom is long and arduous and needs every hand [Note as per Sonali Kolhatkar's below interview with Malalai Joya, this is a gross distortion of the message from Afghanistan's most courageous woman, Malalai Joya, and scroll down further to read instead her EXACT message which is an unequivocal opposition to the US/NATO occupation of her country via "Memo to America: Stop Murdering My People"]

Hirsi Ali,
author of Infidel, has a book, Nomad, out this month

 May 3, 2010

Time Magazine's Sneaky Way of Muffling the Message of an Afghan Peace Activist

Malalai Joya gets named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2010, but allows Ayaan Hirsi to make the announcement and distort Joya's message.

Outspoken Afghan activist and former member of the Parliament, Malalai Joya has been one of the most vocal opponents of the US and NATO war in Afghanistan. In a recent op-ed she called on the US to "stop murdering my people."

Joya was suspended from the Afghan Parliament nearly 3 years ago for challenging warlord domination and lives in constant fear of her life. She has survived several assassination attempts but chooses to live in Afghanistan. Her memoir, A Woman Among Warlords with Derrick O'Keefe was published late last year (Simon and Schuster). Last week Malalai Joya was named one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" of 2010. I reached her for an interview via satellite phone in Afghanistan on May 3rd 2010.

Sonali Kolhatkar: You were just named one of the 100 most influential people of 2010 by TIME Magazine. But author Hirsi Ali, who wrote the announcement, said "I hope in time she comes to see the U.S. and NATO forces in her country as her allies. She must use her notoriety, her demonstrated wit and her resilience to get the troops on her side instead of out of her country." How do you respond to this statement?

Malalai Joya: I am very angry with the way they have introduced me. TIME has painted a false picture of me and does not mention anything at all about my struggle against the occupation of Afghanistan by the US and NATO, which is disgusting. In fact every one knows that I stand side-by-side with the glorious anti war movements around the world and have proved time and again that I will never compromise with the US And NATO who have occupied my country, empowered the most bloody enemies of my people and are killing my innocent compatriots in Afghanistan. What TIME did was like giving an award to someone with one hand and getting it back with another hand. I have sent my protest through my Defense Committee, but TIME did not bother to even answer than protest letter. Perhaps this is the kind of freedom of expression exercised by TIME and the US. But I'm happy to see that many of my friends and supporters have objected to the write-up and expressed it by posting their comments on TIME's site or sending me many emails.

Sonali Kolhatkar: Earlier this year some journalists were able to confirm that US troops had killed two pregnant women during a night-time raid. How common are such occurrences in Afghanistan today?

Malalai Joya: Yes, the US and NATO often lie when they kill innocent people and also stop media from reporting civilian casualties. Most of the civilian casualties take place in remote areas of Afghanistan where there is no media to report it, so no one notices it. In many cases after killing people NATO [releases] statements saying that many insurgents were killed. When you try to find out from the local people, they are actually women and children killed, not insurgents. Afghan media are also mostly in the hands of the Afghan criminal bands. They rarely report civilians killed by the US and NATO. In Afghanistan most media outlets, especially TV channels, are a tool for warlords of the Northern Alliance. For example warlords like Atta Mohammed, Qanooni, Mohseni, Mohaqqiq, Rabbani and others, each have their own TV channel and they naturally do not want to report civilian casualties by their US and NATO masters.

The US Embassy in Kabul has an office that carefully monitors all media in Afghanistan and if they find any of them reporting against US interests, they try using different means to stop it. Bribes are a very common means used. For the US it's not just fighting a war through military means, but also on the propaganda front. I think propaganda plays a major role. They are trying to show the war is justified. When they kill civilians they immediately deny it and say that all the people killed are Taliban. When there is no chance for any independent confirmation, the lies are the only things reflected in the world media. There are only a few cases where some brave and justice-loving journalists like Jerome Starkey have come forward to unmake their shameful lies.

Sonali Kolhatkar: Much has been made recently of Karzai's statements in favor of the Taliban. How close is the Afghan central government to forging a peace with the Taliban? What will that mean for the US/NATO war? What will it mean for the people of Afghanistan?

Malalai Joya: I think Karzai cannot dare to make such a statement or try to meet the Taliban and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's party leaders without having an "OK" from the White House. Actually it is the US that asks him to make peace with the Taliban and Hekmatyar's party or at least share power with them. Also the US government needs to show the people of NATO countries that it is not a war-monger and is in favor of peace talks with the Taliban. But it is just a show. The US doesn't want to fight the Taliban forever as it needs them as an excuse to continue the occupation of Afghanistan in the implementation of its strategic, regional, and military interests. I think some of the Taliban and Hekmatyar's leaders are already part of Karzai's regime. One of the main leaders of Hekmatyar's party called Hadi Arghandiwal is now the Minister of Economy under Karzai.

This is what the US wants. These brutal and inhuman leaders have been created by the US in the past and are ready to work for the US as long as their pockets are filled with dollars and high posts are offered to them in the government. Actually the US government is trying hard to empower reactionary forces and individuals in Afghanistan as they can use them to stop the emergence of pro-democracy and nationalist forces and groups in my country.

Sonali Kolhatkar: You recently wrote in an op-ed in the Daily Beast that there are a lot of anti-US protests happening in Afghanistan today that go unreported. Tell us more about these protests - where are they happening, who is protesting, and are they also against the fundamentalists or just the US/NATO?

Malalai Joya: Yes, we have witnessed the protests of people especially in the Eastern and Western parts of Afghanistan over the past year. They are mostly reactions to civilians killed by the US and NATO. With every bombardment by NATO, angry people come to the streets to raise anti-US slogans. But unfortunately they are not organized and in some cases the Taliban uses them. We have seen most of these protests in Nangahar, Ghazni, Loghar, Herat, and Helmand provinces but they are usually not reported. A few days ago angry protestors burned about 20 fuel tankers of NATO in Loghar which was one out of many such protests reported by the world media.

These protestors are not only against the US and NATO but also against the Afghan government. People see that this government is deeply corrupt and in the hands of looters and murderers of the Northern Alliance. So they are deeply fed up. Last month a large crowd of thousands of workers in Baghlan province protested against Mahmood Karzai [vice chairman of the Afghanistan chamber of commerce and Hamid Karzai's younger brother], head of the "economic mafia" of Afghanistan who has his hold on some previously state-owned factories. The US and NATO and the Afghan government usually ignore people's protests. But I believe that given enough time, such protests will become even more organized out of people's anger. Afghans are on the verge of uprising but poverty, destitution, and the non-existence of powerful democratic-minded forces in our country stops them from a very serious uprising. I'm sure in the next few years such forces will emerge and these protests will turn more powerful to shake the Afghan puppet government and the occupation forces.

Sonali Kolhatkar: The US has made no secret for many months that it is about to launch an offensive against the Taliban in Kandahar. What do you think will happen this summer as a result of this offensive?

Malalai Joya: As I said before, the US does not want to fight the Taliban forever. They only fight with them here and there to show the American people that the US is at war in Afghanistan and their presence is necessary here. The offensive in Kandahar will not be different from Marjah and other areas of Helmand where they had such operations in the past. They make such a hue and cry about their military actions but in fact they just push the Taliban to other areas and then install some corrupt officials and police forces who are worse than the Taliban. In a few days the Taliban return as we experienced in the past. They declared Marjah as a Taliban-free district but in fact the Taliban has a permanent presence there. They had just left the area for a short time.

After the Marjah operation, a spokesperson of the Afghan Defense Ministry was asked at a press conference why they allowed the Taliban to leave the area and why the Taliban were neither killed nor arrested in Marjah. He answered that the purpose of the operation was not killing or arresting the Taliban, instead it was to push them out of the area.

So we expect that they will do the same thing with Kandahar. They will launch the operation and then allow the Taliban to go to another area and then later start an operation there. This is a battle for show, not a real war against terrorism. Otherwise for the US and NATO, it is a task of only a few days to uproot the Taliban and defeat them forever. But then everyone will ask them to end the occupation of Afghanistan.

The only outcome of the Kandahar operation will be civilian casualties. Poor and innocent people are the only ones killed in the war. But the Taliban do not experience any defeat or even major casualties. Afghans know very well that the US will neither bring democracy nor peace to Afghanistan. They know that the US and NATO are empowering the enemies of democracy. But it is the duty of the Afghan people to fight for their values and understand that the occupation will only drag us more deeply into slavery. As always I pass this message to justice-loving people around the world that no nation can donate liberation to another nation.

Sonali Kolhatkar: Can you tell us what the status of your own parliamentary position is right now, since you were stripped of your elected position by the fundamentalists some years ago. Have you ever been made to face a court? Can you run again for parliament in the next elections?

Malalai Joya: In the last stage of the Interparliamentary Union meeting, a delegation of Afghan parliamentarians promised that they would end my suspension so I could return to Parliament. But it was just a lie and they did not stand by their promise.

I received a letter from the court some months ago and I answered truthfully what my strong position was against the warlords. They asked me to apologize [for my statements made in a TV interview --and said that they would allow me back to the Parliament. But I stressed the truth of my statements and said that I would never apologize to criminals and looters. However, I still can run for elections which are due to happen later this year. But I have not made up my mind to run.

But whether I serve in Parliament or outside it, I will continue my fight for justice, democracy and against the occupation. Parliament was just a small part of my struggle but I still have many other options and fields. Going to a Parliament of criminals was a big torture for me. It was a torture everyday to see the faces of these brutal men such as Qanooni, Sayyaf, Mohaqqiq, Piram Qul, Haji Almas, Haji Fayeed, etc there. But I accepted the task on behalf of my people.

I think the next election will be even more disgusting and full of fraud. The new chief of the election commission is a known warlord of the Northern Alliance and he will try to bring all these warlords to the Parliament and stop the emergence of democratic-minded people like me. Many people think that at this point they will never allow me to win the election as they can't bear to have me inside the parliament once more. But I will continue the struggle as long as these criminals are in power, these sworn enemies of democracy, women's rights, human rights, and as long as these occupation forces are bombing from the sky, and supporting the enemies of my people and killing innocent people of my country.

For more information, visit

Sonali Kolhatkar is Co-Director of the Afghan Women's Mission, a US-based non-profit that funds health, educational, and training projects for Afghan women. She is also the host and producer of Uprising Radio, a daily morning radio program at KPFK, Pacifica in Los Angeles.

April 20, 2010

Memo to America: Stop Murdering My People

by Malalai Joya

Amid increasing civilian deaths and resurgent warlordism, Afghan women's leader Malalai Joya writes that Hamid Karzai and the U.S. are losing credibility in Afghanistan day by day.

Almost every day, the NATO occupation of our country continues to kill innocent people. Each time, it seems, military officials try to claim that only insurgents are killed, or they completely deny and cover up their crimes. The work of a few courageous journalists is the only thing that brings some of these atrocities to light.

For instance, it was only after the reporting of Jerome Starkey of the Times of London that officials admitted to the brutal Feb. 12 murder of two pregnant women, a teenage girl, and several young men in a night raid at a home where a family was celebrating the birth of a child.

We can no longer bear the killing of our pregnant mothers, the killing of our teenagers and young children, the killing of so many Afghan men and women. We can no longer bear these “accidents” and these “apologies” for the deaths of the innocent.

Night raids, air raid “mistakes,” firing on civilian buses and cars at checkpoints­the occupation finds many ways of killing the people of Afghanistan. The excuses and lies for these deaths are like salt in our wounds, and it is no wonder that protests against the U.S. military are growing. The Afghan people have had enough.

In recent weeks, there has been much talk about Hamid Karzai’s threats to join the Taliban and about his supposed differences with the American government. But for Afghans, Karzai long ago lost all credibility. The joke among our people is that Karzai doesn’t do or say anything without consulting the White House first. No amount of nationalistic rhetoric or demagoguery on his part will change this perception.

Everyone in Afghanistan knows that Karzai was placed into power with the backing of the United States and its allies, and to this day he relies on their support. His regime would not last a day without it. And Afghans know too well the reality of his corrupt government: It has delivered nothing to the country’s poor other than sorrow and destitution, while filling the pockets of drug traffickers, warlords, and its own corrupt officials.

Afghanistan has had puppet leaders before, rulers who served only the interests of foreign occupiers, whether British or Soviet. But Karzai may be the most hated puppet in our history; he has empowered some of the most brutal internal enemies of ordinary Afghans, warlords of the Northern Alliance like Sayyaf, Dr. Abdullah, Rabbani, Mohaqiq, Ismael Kahn, Dostum and many others. Even his two vice presidents, Fahim Qasim and Karim Khalili, are notorious fundamentalist warlords. The president’s brother in Kandahar, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is another thug in power whose links to the drug trade and the CIA have been widely reported.

Karzai made headlines by threatening to “join the Taliban,” but the reality is that for more than eight years he has had no problem working with fundamentalists who are the ideological brothers of the anti-women Taliban. In fact, Karzai himself used to support the Taliban when he was a minor tribal leader in Kandahar in the 1990s, and for years he has been negotiating to bring Taliban leaders into his puppet regime. Some of them are already serving in his regime, and the U.S. government has been encouraging these negotiations by creating the false categories of "moderate" and "extremist" Taliban.

He has also been reaching out to that most brutal warlord and criminal, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a mujahideen leader known for killing civilians and currently designated a terrorist by the U.S. government. Karzai recently appointed Abdul Hadi Arghandewal, an infamous leader of Hekmatyar’s party, as his minister in charge of the economy. These negotiations and flexible alliances by Karzai and the U.S. government are nothing new. For three decades, the U.S. has backed these criminals: Hekmatyar, al Qaeda and other fundamentalists in the 1980s, the Taliban in the 1990s, and now Karzai and his warlord allies.

Progressive-minded Afghans want to break out of this circle of warlordism once and for all. It is ironic that Karzai talks about the possibility that a “national resistance” could develop in Afghanistan. He should know that the prime target of such a movement will be his own regime and its foreign supporters.

Our people are deeply fed up. They have organized many anti-U.S. protests in the past months and if the occupation continues, the resistance will only grow. More than eight years of occupation have made life bleak, and we are tired of being pawns in the U.S. and NATO’s game for control of Central Asia.

We can no longer bear the killing of our pregnant mothers, the killing of our teenagers and young children, the killing of so many Afghan men and women. We can no longer bear these “accidents” and these “apologies” for the deaths of the innocent.

We salute the anti-war movements in the NATO countries. Here, we will struggle to our last breath to stop this war that is tearing apart our beloved Afghanistan.

Malalai Joya, now 31, was the youngest member of the Afghan parliament, elected in 2005. In 2007 she was suspended from parliament because of her consistent criticism of the warlords and other human-rights abusers in the Karzai regime. Joya has survived five assassination attempts to date, and has written her life story in the book A Woman Among Warlords (with Derrick O’Keefe, Scribner, 2009). She writes from Kabul, Afghanistan.