Boston - Chomsky and Joya
U.S. Reverses Visa Denial To Malalai Joya Female Afghan Activist
Joya criticizes US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan. She is critical of the Taliban, the Karzai government as well.
Joya was barred from entering the U.S. earlier this month to promote a new edition of her memoir. However after widespread protests by many prominent U.S. intellectuals and others the decision was reversed. She is scheduled to speak tonight in Boston with Noam ChomskyNoam Chomsky.
Joya has been outspoken in her criticism of the Karzai government, the Taliban, and the NATO mission in Afghanistan which she calls an occupation. Perhaps her most famous speech was in the Afghan parliament in which she said that many of the parliamentarians were warlords and guilty of war crimes.
In the Afghan parliament after the swearing-in ceremony in December 2005, she offered her "condolences" to the people of Afghanistan "for the presence of warlords, drug lords and criminals" in the Parliament. "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 had to be escorted out of the parliament to avoid physical attack and was suspended for her remarks.
She has been subject to constant death threats. She said:"They will kill me but they will not kill my voice, because it will be the voice of all Afghan women. You can cut the flower, but you cannot stop the coming of spring."
Joya has been to Canada several times. She appeared at the Federal Convention of Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP) in Quebec City on September 10, 2006, supporting party leader Jack LaytonJack Layton and the NDP's criticism of the NATO-led mission in southern Afghanistan. She said, "No nation can donate liberation to another nation."" The NDP has consistently held the view that Canada should withdraw troops immediately.
Joya has won many awards for her fight for women's rights in Afghanistan. However as the appended video shows she is a caustic critic of U.S. and NATO involvement in Afghanistan and wants them out now. No doubt this and probably complaints of the Karzai government are the reason for the earlier denial of a visa for her to talk in the U.S.
(born April 25, 1978) is an activist, writer and a former politician from Afghanistan. She served as a female Parliamentarian in the National Assembly of Afghanistan from 2005 until early 2007, after being dismissed for publicly denouncing the presence of what she considered to be warlords and war criminals in the Afghan parliament. She is an outspoken critic of the first ever democratically elected Karzai administration and its western supporters, particularly the United States.
Her suspension in May 2007 has generated protest internationally and appeals for her reinstatement have been signed by high profile writers, intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, and politicians including Members of Parliament from Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain. She is often called by some people as "the bravest woman in Afghanistan."
In 2010, Time magazine placed Malalai Joya on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Foreign Policy Magazine listed Malalai Joya in its annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. On March 8, 2011, The Guardian listed her among "Top 100 women: activists and campaigners"
Her father was a former medical student who lost a leg while fighting in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. In 1982, when she was 4 years old, her family fled Afghanistan to live as refugees in neighboring Iran. She got involved in humanitarian work while in eight grade.
"I started working as an activist when I was very young, grade 8. When I started working amongst our people, especially women, it was so enjoyable for me. I learned a lot from them, even though they were not educated. Before I started, I want to tell you, I didn't know anything about politics. I learned from people who were non-educated, non-political people who belonged to a political situation. I worked with different committees in the refugee camps. I remember that in every house that I went everyone had different stories of suffering. I remember one family we met. Their baby was just skin and bones. They could not afford to take the baby to a doctor, so they had to just wait for their baby to die. I believe that no movie maker, no writer is able to write about these tragedies that we have suffered. Not only in Afghanistan, but also Palestine, Iraq…The children of Afghanistan are like the children of Palestine. They fight against enemies with only stones. These kinds of children are my heroes and my heroines."
—Malalai Joya, November 5, 2007
After the Soviet withdrawal, Joya returned to Afghanistan in 1998 during the Taliban's reign. As a young woman she worked as a social activist and was named a director of the non-governmental group, Organisation of Promoting Afghan Women's Capabilities (OPAWC) in the western provinces of Herat and Farah. She is married
Speech at the 2003 loya jirga
Malalai Joya gained international attention when, as an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga convened to ratify the Constitution of Afghanistan, she spoke out publicly against the domination of warlords on December 17, 2003
My name is Malalai Joya from Farah Province. By the permission of the esteemed attendees, and by the name of God and the colored-shroud martyrs of the path of freedom, I would like to speak for a couple of minutes.
My criticism on all my compatriots is that why are they allowing the legitimacy and legality of this Loya Jerga come under question with the presence of those felons who brought our country to this state.
"I feel pity and I feel very sorry that those who call Loya Jerga an infidel --basically equivalent to blasphemy. After coming here their words are accepted, or please see the committees and what people are whispering about. The chairman of every committee is already selected. Why do you not take all these criminals to one committee so that we see what they want for this nation? These were those who turned our country into the nucleus of national and international wars. They were the most anti-women people in the society who wanted to [makes pause] who brought our country to this state and they intend to do the same again. I believe that it is a mistake to test those already being tested. They should be taken to national and international court. If they are forgiven by our people, the bare-footed Afghan people, our history will never forgive them. They are all recorded in the history of our country"
In response, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, chief of the Loya Jirga called her "infidel" and "communist". Since then she has survived four assassination attempts, and travels in Afghanistan under a burqa and with armed guards
World Pulse Magazine (Issue 1, 2005) wrote:
…When her time came to make her 3-minute statement, she tugged her black headscarf over her hair, stepped up to the microphone, and with emotional electricity made the speech that would alter her life.
After she spoke, there was a moment of stunned silence. Then there was an uproar. Male mujahideen, some who literally had guns at their feet, rushed towards her, shouting. She was brought under the protection of UN security forces.
In a nation where few dare to say the word "warlord" aloud, Joya had spoken fiercely against a proposal to appoint high clergy members and fundamentalist leaders to guide planning groups. She objected that several of those religious leaders were war criminals who should be tried for their actions—not national heroes to influence the new government.
Despite the commands of Assembly Chairman, Joya refused to apologize
When Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, Noam Chomsky wrote in an article syndicated by the New York Times: "The Nobel Peace Prize committee might well have made truly worthy choices, prominent among them the remarkable Afghan activist Malalai Joya."
Because she is "unemployed" and "lives underground", the United States denied Joya a travel visa in March 2011. She was scheduled to speak at several different places in the United States, including Pace University in Manhattan and St. Mary's College of Maryland. Joya stated that "[the Afghan government] has probably requested the U.S. to not let me enter ... because I am exposing the wrong policies of the U.S. and its puppet regime at the international level." However, the U.S. State Department later explained that a visa has been issued to Joya
Joya has written a memoir with Canadian writer Derrick O'Keefe. The US and Canadian version of the book was published in October 2009 by Scribner under the title of A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice
The Australian and British versions have already been published by Pan Macmillan and Rider under the title of Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dares to Speak Out. It has so far been published in German titled Ich erhebe meine Stimme - Eine Frau kämpft gegen den Krieg in Afghanistan, in Norwegian under the title Kvinne blant krigsherrer - Afghanistans modigste stemme and in Dutch under the title Een vrouw tussen krijgsheren.
video of her talking on CNN