Malalai Joya: ‘My country needs you to get the troops out’

Friday, April 13, 2012
Malalai Joya. Photo: Peter Boyle

“You have to put more pressure on your government to allow Afghans to decide their own future,” Afghan democracy activist and former MP Malalai Joya told a 150-strong public forum on April 11.

“No nation can liberate another nation,” Joya said. “Ten years of war should have made this clear. It's better the troops leave.”

The public meeting, organised by Sydney Stop the War Coalition, was chaired by human rights activist and lawyer Kellie Tranter. Tranter told Green Left Weekly: “It's important to listen to Malalai Joya because she is the voice of a vast network of ordinary people across Afghanistan who are saying the foreign troops have to get out.”

Fielding questions from the audience, Joya said the Australian government was following the “wrong policy” of the US which is “not only a mockery of democracy for you, it’s a monstrous war crime against our people”.

The pro-war media stays silent on the atrocities in Afghanistan, but Joya showed graphic pictures of the reality: “Air strikes by the US-NATO forces have killed thousands. Cluster bombs, phosphorus and other harmful chemicals leave our innocent people with horrible injuries.”

Joya also spoke about the atrocities committed by warlords, the Taliban and al-Qaeda – “all products of the White House’s Cold War”. She demanded the West stop backing Afghanistan’s murderous warlords.

She pointed to the Australian government’s support for Matiullah Khan – a warlord who is now chief of police in Oruzgan province where Australian troops are stationed. The Dutch forces refused to work with him, but the US and Australian troops have no such qualms.

Joya said: “Day by day, this war criminal is getting more powerful. He receives $340,000 each year from the Australian, US and other Western governments. It appears that some of Matiullah Khan’s fighters have even been receiving military training in Australia.”

Joya urged Australians to prevent such people from visiting and pointed to the recent successful campaign to prevent Mohammed Mohaqiq, leader of the fundamentalist Hezb-e-Wahdat Party, from speaking at a conference in Rome.

Mohaqiq, one of the most bloodthirsty militia commanders during the civil war of 1992-1996, was also a sponsor of a reactionary Afghan law authorising rape in marriage.

Asked if the Australian troops were doing any good in Afghanistan, Joya replied: “There is no difference between Australian occupation forces and others: all of them are following the same policy and betraying our people.”

She slammed the notion that the occupation is helping Afghan women achieve their rights. “Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed — wedding parties are bombed and many women and children are the victims of cluster bombs and white phosphorous.

“Between 2010 and 2011, the BBC recorded 2300 women [killed themselves]. People are starving and have to resort to selling their babies.

“Afghanistan is still the second most corrupt country in the world. Despite receiving more than US$60 billion in aid, more than 9 million people go short of food, not to mention other hardships.”

But Joya praised the bravery of the women and men who are resisting, pointing to numerous examples of people taking to the streets with banners demanding the occupation troops leave. A recent example Joya gave was when thousands of people took to the streets after occupation forces in Helmand province killed civilians after US forces had burned the Koran.

She said: “Brave people risk their lives by demonstrating. There are protests all over Afghanistan every day by democratic groups including the six-party alliance of the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan and the Social Association of Afghan Justice Seekers.

“In the Taliban’s time, we had one enemy. But after 10 years of war, we now have three — the warlords, the Taliban and occupation forces.”

Joya said that life in Afghanistan will be “no picnic” when the occupation forces finally leave. But she insists that this is the first and necessary step towards justice. “Democracy without justice is meaningless,” she repeated.

She summed up her main message to the crowd: “Democratic Australians must join forces with like-minded Afghans to stop this war. Pressure your government to let the people of Afghanistan decide on their own future. That’s real self-determination.”


Malalai Joya's message to the Australian government and the Australian people.



From GLW issue 918

Comments

Very unrealistic remarks

Sometimes she gives very unrealistic remarks to gain popularity. I am sure if the situation deteriorates and we have another fratricidal civil war, she will take refuge somewhere, as her family took refuge to Iran during the difficult years. She needs to refer to the recent history of Afghanistan and read it carefully. Between 1992 and 1996, when Afghans were left alone, only in Kabul 50,0000 people were killed.

I very unrealistic remark

the American fault that Afghanistan way is is because in 1979 thy had a Socialist government
that giving woman the rights to eduction and employment giving land reform with sport form the Soviet
union. with America than trading the Aumgearhardeen to over throw the Government with Obama bin
Lain and Imear el Zakuwey the with this fundamentalist how killed woman for going to school and working , the the Soviet Union were Invited in to crush the Islamic extremist. with United sate using both side in Clive war and Funding the Taliban from 19905-2001 with funding of heroin triad please do your home work before weighting in to Green Left by Sam Bullock

Very ignorant remarks

Your statement shows how ignorant you are of the history and present of Afghanistan, and belies the paternalistic and racist mindset that the US and their allies have used to gain support for the war.

Blaming Afghans for the bloodshed of 1992-96 is as silly as blaming Japan for having radiation after the US dropped nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The forces that caused the bloodshed in Afghanistan were the products of the US's efforts to destabilise the progessive Afghan government that came to power in 1978 on the back of a popular uprising against the monarchy. The US and its allies created the extreme Islamist mujahadeen forces that brought down this government and then turned against each other in the 1992-96 period you mentioned. The side backed by Pakistan's ISI, the Taliban, took over after this. After 2001, the US installed the Taliban's equally extremist rivals, the warlords grouped together as the "Northern Alliance".

The Western occupation forces are not there to keep peace. They are there to make sure Western interests are served by backing one side against the other. The ordinary people of Afghanistan are the biggest losers in this situation.

Joya often points out that the Afghan people have three enemies currently: the Taliban, the warlord-run government, and the Western occupation army. If the Western forces leave, thats one less problem to deal with.

If Western forces withdrew, there would likely be a spike in bloodshed, as happened in Iraq recently. However, the Western forces have no moral authority to pretend they need to stay to protect people. The West is responsible for this nightmare and the best thing its leaders could do is remove all their troops and pay real reparations for the decades of destruction they have caused.