Published on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 by New American Media
Malalai Joya has been called "
But that doesn't mean she's a supporter of the
"Unfortunately, President Obama's foreign policy is a lot like [the] criminal Bush," she said in a sit-down in interview during a recent visit to
Immediately "after the 9/11 tragedy, my people thought maybe this time the
But Joya found that hope dashed quickly - as early as December 2003 - in the first meeting of
She was 24. And she couldn't stay silent.
"I wish to criticize my compatriots in this room," she said amid boos, catcalls and scattered cheers. "Why would you allow criminals to be present at this Loya Jirga, warlords responsible for our country's situation?
The chairman responded by throwing her out.
"The sister has crossed the line of what is considered common courtesy," he said, banging his gavel. "She is banished from this assembly and cannot return. Send her out! Guards, throw her out! She doesn't deserve to be here."
But Joya did not give up. She ran for Parliament again in 2005 and was elected a second time. In 2006, she was physically attacked on the floor of the Parliament, when she said: "There are two types of Mujahidin" - freedom fighters - "one who were really Mujahidin, the second who killed tens of thousands of innocent people and who are criminals."
Joya was again expelled from Parliament. One law-maker Jebel Chelgari said that wasn't enough. She should be punished with a gun, he said. Like many members of post-Taliban Parliament, Joya says Chelgari has a reputation for brutality.
"This cruel man, this non-educated, ignorant man," she says, "is famous in his province as a head eater. Because he has killed so many people they do not even mention his name. They call him ‘head eater.'"  All together, Joya has survived five assassination attempts. But at least she's still alive. Other women's rights advocates have not been so lucky.
She breathlessly rattles off a half dozen prominent women who have been killed by the
There is Malalai Kakar,
Also among the dead is Sitara Achakzai, who spent the years of Taliban rule in
"This list can be prolonged," she says. "When these brave activist women get killed mainstream only reports like a bird has been killed. That is it."
That these war-lords remain in power is not an accident, she said. They thrive on the drug trade and are actively supported by the
And that arrangement has gotten worse under Obama than Bush, she said, because certain warlords deemed too brutal to take part in the Afghan government under Bush have been invited to the bargaining table under Obama.
One example she cites, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is a 61-year-old veteran of
Bush had put a $25 million "price on his head" for participating in terrorist actions with Al-Qaeda, she notes, and in 2003 the State Department designated Hekmatyar a "Specially Designated Global International Terrorist".
This April, however,
So Joya has taken her fight directly to the occupiers. She's written a book - A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Woman Who Dared to Speak Out  - and is touring the very countries that occupy
Joya says she has hope for the future. If the NATO and the
If "these occupation forces leave Afghanistan and their governments leave us alone then we'll know what to do with our destiny - if they leave us a little bread and peace, because these war lords and the Taliban have no fruit among the heart of my people. My people hate them."
In this way, she sees the weakness of Hamid Karzai's government as a strength, not a cause for concern.
"Resistance of my people is a big hope for my people of
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs