Malalai Joya was the youngest woman in Afghanistan to be elected to parliament in 2003. She was also the most outspoken. Her vocal criticism to the US-backed warlords that control her country’s government saw her expelled from parliament. She has survived four assassination attempts and still lives in Afghanistan, under protection of bodyguards.
Malalai Joya is currently in Australia. She spoke to the City Hub about the war and occupation in her country, and the struggles of the pro-democracy movements, a different story to that shown on the nightly news.
It seems we are not meant to question the idea that Australian troops are having a beneficial impact on Afghan society. What do you see is the impact of having foreign soldiers in your country?
US and NATO occupied my country under the banner of human rights and democracy and they replaced one terrorist with another terrorist, these fundamentalist warlords. Now my people have been sandwiched between these two powerful enemies: in the sky occupation forces bombing, killing civilians, mostly women and children, and on the ground, Taliban and warlords.
In my own province in Farah, US troops in one day bombed and killed 150 civilians, they even used white phosphorus and in Kandahar they used cluster bombs.
During these nine years more than 8000 innocent civilians have been killed, and less than 2000 Talib. Now they formally invite these Taliban terrorists to join the puppet regime of Hamid Karzai.
These troops create more problems, more misery and more civilian casualties, it’s better that they leave Afghanistan, then we will fight one enemy instead of two. In these nine years, the western governments have not only betrayed Afghanistan, they betrayed their own people too.
They must leave Afghanistan, democracy will never come by occupation, with cluster bombs, white phosphorus, massacres and civilian casualties.
What do you see as the genuine reasons motivating the Australian government to keep soldiers in your country?
Australia followed the wrong policy of the US instead of acting independently… This is not only a military war in Afghanistan, this is a war of propaganda. The media sidelines the truth by decreasing the death toll and by describing innocent civilians as insurgents. The US is not in Afghanistan just for a short time, they have their own agenda. They are expanding military bases, they found copper they found uranium, they want to benefit from these rich mines.
The war on Afghanistan was sold to the public on the basis of outing the Taliban and bringing rights for women. How does that wash now that the Karzai government, backed by the Obama administration, is holding talks with so-called “moderate” sections of the Taliban?
The catastrophic situation of the women was a good excuse for the US and NATO to occupy Afghanistan, they justified their war through that issue, but now the situation of women is as catastrophic as it was under the domination Taliban. Now they formally invite the Taliban to join the government, but one terrorist group negotiating with another terrorist group makes no sense.
Today, we are far away from values of human rights, women’s rights and democracy as we were under the domination of the Taliban. Indirectly they support the Taliban already, for example Mullah Arsala Rahmani, and Mullah Rocketi are members of the parliament who committed crimes when the Talib was in power. The Taliban and warlords are brother in creed, their minds are carbon copies of each other.
Thousands in the world are against the occupation, this is why they want to deceive the people, they describe these terrorists as a moderate, while we have no moderate Talib. They are afraid of the resistance of the people, that’s why more and more they support the warlord and the Taliban, to be easier for them to eliminate democratic-minded people of my country who are active underground still, they are facing a lot of risk, and also people day by day they stand up too.
There is no justice for the women, women don’t have the limited rights they enjoyed in the 60s, 70s and 80s. There is more domestic violence, rape cases, beating women with lashes in public. A pregnant women was lashed in public, accused of having a illicit affair. The BBC reported that 2300 women have committed suicide this year because there is no justice for the women,
when the girls go to school, acid is thrown on their faces. Girls in a school in Kabul were poisoned.
Most of the women in my country are living in a hell. It is true that in big cities women have access to jobs and education and some women even in power, but most of these women in power have symbolic roles.
What forms of resistance are pro-democracy groups taking to oppose the rule of the warlords and the occupation?
We have two kind of resistance in Afghanistan, one is the resistance of ordinary Afghan people, we have some democratic parties, the students in the universities, ordinary people they are fed up, they even put the dead bodies of the civilian casualties on the trucks and come to the doors of government in the provinces and they hold demonstrations that hundreds of people attend, but nobody does reports of this resistance, which is the hope for the future of Afghanistan.
Recently in Helmand province, 51 civilians were killed in Sangin District. Afghan Solidarity party, a democratic secular party came on the streets and organised resistance against the occupation, against the warlords and Taliban, and nobody gave reports. The media only reports on the reactionary resistance of the Taliban.
The US doesn’t want to lose the Taliban and warlords, because through them them they occupy my country, so resistance day by day is getting more, as the situation is getting more disastrous, more people are joining the anti war resistance. Aside from parties, we have intellectuals, people coming on the streets. They must be supported for the bright future of Afghanistan, as the situation gets more disastrous the role of intellectuals and democratic parties is more important and necessary, and that’s why we are risking our lives.
They want to eliminate me, but I’m not leaving my country because I believe the nation can liberate themselves, no nation can deliver liberation to another nation, but we need the helping hand of democratic minded people around the world, we need the support of anti war movements, parties and intellectuals, they must support us.
INTERVIEW BY LIZ CUSH
Find out more about Malalai Joya at www.malalaijoya.com and more on Afghanistan’s democracy movement at www.rawa.org
Malalai Joya’s book Raising my Voice: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice is published by Pan Macmillan in Australia.