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“The Bravest Woman in Afghanistan”: Part Two of Our Interview with Afghan Feminist and MP Malalai Joya

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Afghanistan’s most outspoken female lawmaker has been suspended for the rest of her term after she publicly criticized the Afghan Parliament. For years, Malalai Joya has been a leading critic of her government and the U.S. role in her country. She’s faced constant harassment and attempts on her life for her views. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn to the second part of our interview with Afghanistan’s most outspoken female lawmaker. Malalai Joya has been suspended for the rest of her term after she publicly criticized the Afghan Parliament. For years she’s been a leading critic of her government and the U.S. role in her country. She has faced constant harassment for her views. The BBC once described her as “the bravest woman of Afghanistan.” She recently joined us in our firehouse studio and talked about why she came to the United States.

MALALAI JOYA: I’m here to leave the main message for people to the freedom-loving, democratic people and parties of the U.S. and also human rights defenders here that place pressure on those policymakers of U.S., that they have wrong policies playing in Afghanistan to stop the support of fundamentalist warlords in Afghanistan, this Northern Alliance who are more risky than Taliban and they’re brother in creed of Taliban.

And another main message of our people is this, that please try to support freedom-loving, democrat people and parties, men and women in Afghanistan who have no kind of support. And nowadays, right now, all my life, day by day become more risky. Even one MP inside of Parliament recently said I will put bomb with myself and kill her and do bomb suicide.

AMY GOODMAN: You mean he would do a suicide bomb inside the Parliament just to kill you?

MALALAI JOYA: Yeah. And also I’m changing the houses under burka. I’m moving, and I can’t have [inaudible] —

AMY GOODMAN: You go from house to house wearing a burka.

MALALAI JOYA: Yeah. I can’t be only in one house, and even I can’t have office. And four times they did assassination against me and many more threats like that. Then right now that I’m returning, I don’t know how many more threats I will receive and how many more assassination they will do, because they are counting day to kill me. And this is the voice of the voiceless people of Afghanistan. I’m here to tell you if something happen with me, please do not — please try to make — give up this voice — do not say nobody will make it silent, you know, so [inaudible] if they kill me it’s easy for them because they are killing lots of democrat, freedom-loving, innocent people of Afghanistan. Especially I am woman, they are against me, but they never can make silence this voice. This is a powerful voice, because this is the voice of the suffering men and women of Afghanistan, and they cannot hide the truth. I am here to telling you please do not forget the men and women of Afghanistan. Try to support them more in this situation. We have no kind of support.

AMY GOODMAN: What gives you this strength? Tell me about your parents?

MALALAI JOYA: Right now, I can’t live with my parents, even with my husband and family, because of security reasons, but they support me, because I am telling the truth, like many other Afghanistan freedom-loving people around the world. They also support me and worried about my life, but I understand about the risk, about the hardships, about all of these problems, and I accept because of my people, especially women of Afghanistan, who right now even they don’t have human rights and a human life there in Afghanistan. So if something happen with me, once again, I’m telling you the responsible will be these Northern Alliance killers. And try to help us and one day will face them to the national and international courts, because right now every day for our people it’s 11 September, if they will continue to their policy to support them more.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re saying every day for you is a September 11th?

MALALAI JOYA: Not for me. I’m a person. For me and for my people.

AMY GOODMAN: For Afghanistan.

MALALAI JOYA: Yeah, 11 September. And I have many more examples that a little bit earlier I shared with you, the suffering, the tragedy in Afghanistan that’s going on. But if they continue the strong policy to support these fundamentalist warlords in Afghanistan, another 11 September will happen in the world.

AMY GOODMAN: What should the United States do right now?

MALALAI JOYA: Yeah, for example, right now, our people, they need moral and material support. First of all, they should stop the support of these fundamentalist Northern Alliance killers who are brother in creed of Taliban, and they are in power right now and they have high positions in Afghanistan. For example, every crimes that happening, they are saying Taliban did, but right now in the north of Afghanistan there is no Talib. In Jowzjan Province, Rashid Dostum is one of the wanted criminal, and also the governor of this province is Joma Khan Hamdard, a person who is one of the commander and one of the person of [inaudible] one of the Northern Alliance killers, a party that leader is Rabani, who’s enjoying in Parliament. They’re fighting against each other because of their personal issues, because these black parties, they are against each other, but they shed the blood of innocent people in the situation that now they’re talking about democracy. And many more examples that these fundamentalist warlords, they are more risky than Taliban, because they are in power. And that’s why our people do not support that government and they are getting distanced from this government and they do something against foreign troops in Afghanistan, because they become hopeless from the foreign troops. They support Northern Alliance killers who are friend of U.S. and enemies of our people, and they are saying we are fighting against Taliban, who are anti-U.S., but both of them are enemies of the people of Afghanistan.

AMY GOODMAN: How will you go back into Afghanistan? Can you just fly in?

MALALAI JOYA: No, I can’t go by airplane. Right now, I can’t come by airplane from Kabul here, because of security reasons. I came by car to Pakistan under burka, and even I can’t talk during the car. And right now I’m going back to Pakistan from there. Under burka, I’m going to Afghanistan, because of security reasons.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you travel with armed guards?

MALALAI JOYA: In Afghanistan, yeah, I have six bodyguards, and the most problem is this: I can’t have house and office, that not only far people, around Afghanistan, they support me, they are giving me documents. These warlords now they want to face me to the court. Which kind of court? As you know, there is no justice in Afghanistan in the court of Afghanistan, and three-fourths is in the hands of these warlords, but I am happy at least they don’t want to face me to the court as a criminal, as a warlord, as a person who is anti-woman like [inaudible], Jihadi and Talib.

But I am ready to face to a court that will be fair court, natural court, and there will be international officers and also human rights defenders, and as a woman I challenge them that I will face them to the courts, because I trust in my people, and most of them, they are with me, giving me documents of the crimes of these criminals. And also freedom-loving people around the world and the human rights organizations, for example, now Human Rights Watch supported and they invited me here. They are with me, and this is the voice of the people and the only voice of them.

AMY GOODMAN: What are the greatest challenges women face in Afghanistan now?

MALALAI JOYA: The biggest challenge is this right now security. Men and women of Afghanistan, both of them, do not have security, and when we don’t have security, how we can talk about democracy, women rights, human rights? And also another biggest challenges that non-government — non-democratic government, because these Northern Alliance killers, they are in power with the mask of democracy, and they do crimes against women and men in Afghanistan.

And another biggest challenge is education. This is the most important factor, because women and girls, they wants to go to school. In this situation, they are going in school and they are killing. Recently in Logar Province, they killed two students in a day in a school, and six of them has been in jail. And they are burning these schools. If women get education, they play their role very well. For example, now in every parts of Afghanistan, women under burka, they are going outside that most of them don’t have education, they are doing demonstration in support of me. For example, if they get education, they will play their role better and defend their rights, because women rights is not something that someone gave them. And many more examples like that, that another important factor in [inaudible] education.

AMY GOODMAN: The effect of the air strikes? The Red Cross just criticized NATO last week, saying they’re not taking enough precautions to protect civilians. I think on Monday there were seven children who were bombed.

MALALAI JOYA: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, recently. Many more examples like that and many more will happening after that, 'til they do not change the strong policy. That's why people of Afghanistan do not support foreign troops. Enemies like Northern Alliance killers and also Taliban and other al-Qaeda terrorists, even other countries who are playing a wrong role in Afghanistan, like Iran, like Pakistan, they have bloody and black hands in Afghanistan, the posts also they have, so they use from the situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the U.S. should withdraw?

MALALAI JOYA: Here is two ways for the people of Afghanistan and for U.S. For example, they — OK, they destroyed Taliban government, but unfortunately they brought in power brother in creed of Taliban, and they in situation tragedy of Afghanistan you are looking that day by day getting worse for men and women right now. And if they continue this wrong policy, the situation will be more worse and even another 11 September will happen, I mention, more.

And also here is another way also. If they go, for example, these troops from Afghanistan, the situation that people of Afghanistan, they have nothing, and therefore most of monies went in the pockets of these warlords. And many more problems that they have. Even Mr. Karzai recently in a meeting —

AMY GOODMAN: President Karzai.

MALALAI JOYA: Yeah, President Karzai. He said to people when had meeting in Shindand Province with them, said that if foreign troops go out from Afghanistan, once again civil war will start and fundamentalism will improve. Who are the fundamentalism? They are those fundamentalism that they made amnesty them. The criminals forgive themselves inside of Parliament. And also there are those fundamentalism that they made national front that right now Mr. Karzai have lots of problem with them. Even he is saying in the back of this national front that these Northern Alliance killers, they become together as in the hands of foreign countries, means they are puppet of foreign countries. So why Mr. Karzai do not make powerless these puppets who are even some of them are advisers of Mr. Karzai and assistants of Mr. Karzai, like Zia Masood, like Ismail Khan, like Sarwar Danesh, like Karim Khalili, and many more other of them. They are enjoying in Parliament. Why he do not make them powerless? Why he has compromise with them? Why when Human Rights Watch published the name of the criminals that about 9 percent of them who are very dangerous and they are in power, they are Northern Alliance killers, that I said earlier their names? Why Mr. Karzai refuse this list that people of Afghanistan want to face them to the court?

AMY GOODMAN: Will you run for President of Afghanistan?

MALALAI JOYA: Right now, I am even not sure about my life, and I just want to serve our people, especially women of Afghanistan, who have no kind of life right now, even human life right now. I am not struggling because of chair, because of position right now. You are looking — even they kicked me out from Parliament, and just while I am telling the truth, they threaten me to death there. If my people they want one day, of course, because of them, I will be president, but right now, for example, they asked me to be member of Parliament. I’m a member of the Parliament because I was sure when the entire nation is living under the shadow of gun and warlords, and how we will have democratic election? I’m there to expose the mask of these fundamentalist warlords in Parliament.

AMY GOODMAN: Do women parliamentarians support you?

MALALAI JOYA: Right now, 68 members of the Parliament, they are women, but unfortunately most of them they are like [inaudible], because even some women, some of these women, they threaten me to death. And one of them shouted, “Prostitute! I will do something against you” —

AMY GOODMAN: They shouted “prostitute” at you.

MALALAI JOYA: Yeah. “I will do something against you that no man dare to do.” And many more examples like that, they threaten me to death. They are fundamentalist women, most of them. These warlords that campaign for them, as they wish they do. Even they beated me on 7th of May. Also these woman, in my opinion, they are victims, but we have some democrat women also in Parliament, but, as I said, democrat men and women are very less, that I support them. They also support me. There together we wanted to work, and even they beated them also, these fundamentalist warlords, but they are very less, unfortunately.

AMY GOODMAN: Malalai Joya, suspended by the Afghan Parliament for criticizing the body. She returned to Afghanistan.

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