At this link is an interview with Malalai Joya, the youngest woman ever elected to the Afghan parliament, who was later suspended from her position for criticizing the government and has since survived four assassination attempts. The interview aired Nov. 18 on Canada AM, a national morning news show on the CTV network. Joya was (and still is) on a tour of Canada, talking about her book and how we can end the war in Afghanistan. It just popped into mind when reading Liss' post yesterday morning on the potential for Obama to escalate in Afghanistan.
When I see someone as eloquent as Joya talk about Canadians and other NATO troops as an occupying force, it is pretty clear that "more troops" is definitely not a solution to any problem. Of particular note: When she offers condolences to those Canadian moms who lost their children in Afghanistan, but urges them to "change your sorrows, your tears, to the strength. Raise your voice against the wrong policy of your government, because democracy never came by barrel of gun, by war, by cluster bomb."
A transcript is below.
Beverly Thomson (co-host of Canada AM): She has survived four assassination attempts and at 25 years old she was the youngest person elected to Afghanistan's new parliament, only to be suspended for criticising the government. A Woman among Warlords is Malalai Joya's story of life in Afghanistan, and we welcome her into our Canada AM studios this morning.
It's – it's such a compelling account, to read what you have done at such a young age, I have to ask, when you decided and how you decided to do this because you knew you could, and would, get into trouble even to try to educate yourself and other girls.
Malalai Joya: Because we believe that no nation can donate liberation to another nation and woman's right is not a bunch of beautiful flowers that someone gift us. We must do sacrifices, accept risks, and try our best to achieve these values and to struggle – as always I am saying I don't fear death, I fear political silence against injustice.
BT: Now, you had to hide, even books, under your burqa, because of what might happen to you if they found out you were educating people…
MJ: Yeah, in the period of Taliban, it was risky, to avoid the Taliban, but today's situation is as catastrophic as it was under the domination of Taliban in most of provinces of Afghanistan. And today, by presence of thousands of troops in Afghanistan, that rape cases against women, domestic violence, acid attacks, killing of women increasing rapidly, because after 9/11 tragedy, a photocopy of the Taliban, these misogynist warlords wear suit and tie, talking about democracy – they come in power. That's why the situation for men and women, especially for the women and children, is getting worse.
BT: You thought that you could make a difference by getting elected to Parliament – and you did. Then you served there, an- but then they kicked you out, essentially.
MJ: Yeah, I think in my life history I know enough about mockery of democracy, and mockery of war on terror in Afghanistan, because in the period of Taliban, at that dark time, it was risky, but now, even with burqa, bodyguard, not safe – changing safehouse to safehouses. And now not only me, most of my people, they squashed between two powerful enemies. From the sky, occupation forces bombing, killing civilians, most of them women and children under the name of Taliban, in the ground, Taliban and warlords together continue with their fascism. So, the withdrawal of one enemy, it is much easier to fight one instead of two! But now, my country, under the banner of woman's rights, human rights, democracy, has been occupied. In Canada government they say we want to stay there until 2011—
MJ: —and my people don't want them to be that much more as this eight years they were not honest for my people, and they followed the wrong policy of the US government, which is war crime. So they must leave my country now!
BT: You write in your book, “we are not a helpless country, we have been able to manage our own affairs, and women's rights have not always been in such a terrible state.”
MJ: Yeah, the only difference between Taliban period with now is that all of these crimes against women are happening under the name of democracy. Canadian, great people, know about misogynist law these fundamentalists recently made against Shia women in Afghanistan. And this law, despite national and international condemnation even has been signed by Hamid Karzai – this shameless puppet man who did compromise – that's all he do, compromise. And now his brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, in Kandahar province, he is in power, and my people call him a "small Bush". The New York Times recently wrote that he's receiving millions of dollars by CIA, and also he is a famous drug trafficker. And Canada [I believe she meant to say Kandahar] is a province that where Canada has troops – that's why we believe that Canada, and also other NATO countries who follow the wrong policy of the US, they just waste their taxpayer money in Afghanistan, and the blood of their soldiers. And now they surge more troops in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama, because his foreign policy is quite similar, the wrong policy of criminal Bush. And he want to decrease power of the Taliban, also to join (?) the government as a moderate. Well, we have no moderate Talib – he must support democratic minded people of my country while we have a lot, like other countries. At least my people say if Mr Obama really honest, he must say apologize to my people and try to bring criminal Bush to the International Criminal Court for the war crime he committed. But Canada government still follow the wrong policy of the US government, I say condolences to those Canadian mom—
MJ: —who lost their son, daughter in my country, but please, change your sorrows, your tears, to the strength. Raise your voice against the wrong policy of your government, because democracy never come by barrel of gun, by war, by cluster bomb. And now, US government is start war in Pakistan as well. At least situation of Iraq, in Afghanistan prove this claim, that democracy never come by war.
BT: Malalai Joya, thank you for coming in.
MJ: Thank you, thanks for your support, but when we say the withdrawal of the troops, but my message to great, justice-loving people of Canada is that men and women please join your hands with us, we need your educational support, humanitarian support, we need your honest helping hand; we never want occupation. Occupation can never bring liberation. I'm sure they will face with resistance of my people if they do not leave voluntarily.
BT: The name of the book – A Woman among Warlords by Malalai Joya.