At just 16 years old, Malala Yusufzai is the youngest person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. When the Pakistani teenager was shot in her head by Taliban gunmen because she spoke out about her right to education, it sent shock waves around the world. The Western media took notice. Her attack was used as an excuse by Western media and governments to justify the invasion of Afghanistan. Malala is a courageous young woman, whose brave example in the face of barbaric violence is being used to justify the barbaric military violence associated with the occupation of Afghanistan.
Back in October 2001, the US-led invasion of Afghanistan adopted an humanitarian face, professing that the defeat of the Taliban would rid girls and women of an infamously cruel brand of misogyny. But the Taliban’s violent oppression was not alone in denying the country’s females of their basic right to education, health, inheritance, and physical and emotional safety inside and outside of their homes.
On November 18, 2001, Laura Bush gave her first radio address urging worldwide condemnation of the treatment of women in Afghanistan. She stated that the “fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women”. The plight of women and children in Afghanistan, the then-US First Lady said, was “a matter of deliberate human cruelty, carried out by those who seek to intimidate and control”.
Najaf Mazari, an Afghan refugee, rug-maker and author addressed a meeting of about 70 people at the Eltham College in Melbourne on May 17. He described his life in an Afghani village and his journey to a new life in Australia, including his time in a detention centre. The event was organised by the Diamond Valley Oxfam group and supported by the Eltham bookshop.
Over recent weeks, lawyers and campaigners have been racing to the courts to prevent immigration department plans to deport Afghan refugees back to Kabul. Refugee advocates raised alarm bells on March 5 when four Afghan Hazara refugees who had been living in the community on bridging visas were re-detained after attending scheduled immigration meetings.
In the week that US citizen Bradley Manning admitted in court that he leaked military secrets to reveal to the public the “the true costs of war”, I attended the first screening in Sydney of the documentary On The Bridge. The screening was part of the inaugural Big Picture Festival, a social justice film festival.
More than 200 people from Melbourne’s Hazara community held a three-hour protest in Federation Square on February 25 to draw attention to the rising violence against the Hazara community in Pakistan. About 100 Hazara people were killed in the latest bomb massacre in the city of Quetta in Balochistan province on February 16.
In a lengthy editorial on October 13, the United States’ most important ruling-class voice concluded that the war in Afghanistan has failed, and that the US should get out as soon as possible. New York Times editors said in an editorial titled "Time To Pack Up and Leave Afghanistan" that:“The United States will not achieve even President Obama’s narrowing goals, and prolonging the war will only do more harm.”
The shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai has unleashed a wave of revulsion and protest in Pakistan, along with a wave of media attention around the world. Across the political spectrum people are, quite naturally, interpreting this brutal crime through their own ideological lenses. Unfortunately, leaps of logic and aggressive, violent non-sequiturs abound. This is in both the misogyny-addled justifications for this brazen assassination attempt and in the attempts to use this sickening attack as cover or justification for deadly and destructive foreign interventions.
Malalai Joya is an Afghan feminist and democracy activist who organised underground resistance to the Taliban regime and opposes the US-led occupation of her nation. Joya was elected to the Afghan parliament in 2005, and was undemocratically expelled from it for exposing the fundamentalist warlords in the US-backed Hamid Karzai regime. In an October 13 statement, Joya responded to the Taliban's attempted murder of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai for the crime of organising for women's rights. * * *