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  November 21, 2009

A woman among warlords

Joya: US backed fundamentalism is at the root of the Afghan problem; foreign troops should get out now
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Malalai Joya is an Afghan politician who has been called "the bravest woman in Afghanistan." As an elected member of the Wolesi Jirga from Farah province, she has publicly denounced the presence of what she considers warlords and war criminals in the parliament. She is the author of "A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice"


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay, in Washington. And now joining us from our Toronto studio is Malalai Joya. Thanks for joining us, Malalai.

MALALAI JOYA, AUTHOR, A WOMAN AMONG WARLORDS: And thank you. Thank you for this interview.

JAY: Let me understand your status correctly. You were elected, I believe, in 2005 to the National Assembly in the Afghan Parliament, you can say, and you stood up very early in your term there and denounced the warlords in the room. And just before we get started with the interview, let's show our audience just a little piece of that.


JOYA (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I wish to criticize my compatriots in this room. Why would you allow criminals to be present at this loya jirga, warlords responsible for our country's situation? Afghanistan is the center for national and international conflicts. They oppress women and have ruined our country. They should be prosecuted. They might be forgiven by the Afghan people, but not by history.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Sit down! The sister has crossed the line of what is considered common courtesy. She is banished from this assembly and cannot return. Send her out! Guards, throw her out! She doesn't deserve to be here.


JAY: Malalai now joins us on a book tour across North America. Her book is called A Woman Among Warlords. Thanks for joining us again, Malalai.

JOYA: Thank you.

JAY: So President Karzai was inaugurated just in the last day or two as the—again, as president of Afghanistan. Just quickly, what legitimacy does this election have in the eyes of the Afghan people, if any?

JOYA: This election has no legitimacy at all, because election [inaudible] Afghan warlord-ism [inaudible] corruption and occupation forces has no legitimacy at all. Most of candidate was discredited known faces. Even people on the streets, before of the result of the election, they use this proverb that the winner will be like the same donkey, but with new saddle. And as a famous saying, it's not important who's voting; it's important who's counting. That's our main problem. No question that election is a main sign of democracy. But in the past, also, we experienced that those who were in power—we have mafia system. They betrayed the vote of the people. That's why millions of Afghan, they did not attend in the election.

JAY: In an interview you did recently, you said that the very fundamental problem is on both the side of the government, the warlords, and the Taliban. Are fundamentalists, and this fundamentalism is supported by the United States? Explain why this is the root of the problem.

JOYA: Yes, because today in Afghanistan we have a mafia system, very corrupt system, in the meantime puppet regime. After 9/11 tragedy, US and allies of the US—means NATO, including Canada government—they pushed us from the frying pan to the fire, because they replaced Taliban with Northern Alliance fundamentalists, who are photocopy of the Taliban in the civil war in Afghanistan from '92 to '96. Alone in Kabul, they killed more than 65,000 innocent people, and even they did many violences against women rights, human rights. And all of these crimes you can see on Human Rights Watch Web site, Amnesty International Web sites, and many books have been written about them. But these were warlords of 9/11, back with suit and tie, talking about democracy, they come in power. That's why today situation of Afghanistan is a safe haven for terrorism and also the center of the of the drug. These warlords, since Cold War, that buy people, all of them, to [inaudible] fight against occupation, against Russia and puppet of Russia. We call them ["HAL-kee"] and ["PAD-sha-mee"]. On that time, they received many millions of dollars by CIA, ISI, and neighbor countries, and they were puppet. But when Russia failed in Afghanistan and their puppet, their regime, has been destroyed, these warlords and these drug lords, they showed their real nature to my people, their criminal face. And, first of all, they destroyed our national unity. And in the meantime that, the same like Taliban, they are misogynist, first of all. They are against women rights, human rights. And after 9/11, when they come in power, in the beginning, me and many other democrat, justice-loving people in our country, we raise our voice against that, because it's impossible to bring democracy, women rights, human rights by sworn enemies of these rights values. But nobody listened the voice of these justice-loving people and also innocent people of my country. And you saw that the result of their support, that now situation of Afghanistan is catastrophic, especially for the women of my country, because under the banner of women rights they occupied my country, and it was good excuse for them.

JAY: What do you want now, and the political forces you represent? Do you want all the foreign forces out?

JOYA: As soon as possible. If today is much better than tomorrow, it's better to [i not only today US government, not only those 14 more countries who follow the wrong policy of the US government, which is mockery of democracy and mockery of war on terror in Afghanistan. This is just war crime, because they have occupied my country, and liberation never come by occupation, democracy never come by barrel of gun, by cluster bomb, by white phosphorus.

JAY: If all the foreign forces pull out, are you not looking at a civil war on various fronts? First of all, you have the traditional fight with the warlords based in the North fighting the Taliban. Even amongst the warlords you have the old fight breaking out between the forces that were more loyal to Massoud, and then you have Karzai's forces that are more around the Pashtun warlords. Do you not go back into the kind of situation that existed after the Soviets withdrew, which was a terrible civil war?

JOYA: From the bad luck of my people, the terrorist of yesterday is hero of today. The terrorist of today will be hero of tomorrow. This Ahmad Shah Massoud that you mentioned, the name of this so-called hero, my people call him "Butcher of [inaudible] of Kabul"—he did a massacre there from '92 to '96. But today itself is the worst civil war, because those who did civil war, same like Taliban, committed many crimes against women rights, human rights, whether at least to, say, apologize to my people, whether to be powerless and bring them to the International Criminal Court. They come in power and they are getting more support. Mainstream media always talking, trying to make big this issue as much as they can, that civil war will happen. I told you that when we fighted against occupation, when Russia occupied Afghanistan, that time my people didn't know these criminal mujahedin, these bunch of killers that about eight fundamentalist parties, that the foundation of these parties was in the pocket of CIA and ISI. But after Russia felled, I told you that they showed their criminal face to my people. But now my people know them very well because they were the one who destroyed our national unity, as you mentioned, that one of them is Tajik leader of one fundamentalist party; another one is Uzbek, like Dostum; Tajik, like [Yunus] Qanuni, like Abdullah Abdullah, like this Ahmad Shah Massoud so-called hero, and [Burhanuddin] Rabbani; a Pashtun like Sayyaf, Mullah Omar, and also that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has our ally Karim Khalili, [Mohammad] Mohaqiq. And this list can be prolonged that my people hate them and do not support them. First of all, there was that as I told you that they destroyed our national unity and told this is the policy of the US government that this dirty policy divide and rule they play in Afghanistan. Same they do in Iraq, that they try to put Shia and Sunni in Iraq to fight against each other. And my country, also, they support these bunch of puppet killer misogynist looters that to keep situation in danger like this, to stay longer in Afghanistan because of their own strategic regional political and economic interest.

JAY: What you're essentially asking for or describing is a situation where the Afghan people rise up against the Taliban, who you have described as fascists, against the warlords, who you've described as not any different than the Taliban. The question I have is: is there a political force like that in Afghanistan to rise up and wage that kind of a fight?

JOYA: Well, no. We have a lot—like your country, like Canada, like the US, like European countries, every country, they have their terrorists, they have their justice-loving people, democratic-minded people, human rights activists, women rights activists—they have same my country have. But the only difference between my country and other country is that the terrorists of my country wear suit and tie with mask of democracy. They are in power by support of their foreign master they imposed on our people. And that's why situation getting worse, especially for the women of my country. Maybe in your country, to bring criminal Bush to the International Criminal Court, it will be one of the main problem of your country, as my people and many other around the world, I am sure, million justice-loving people, they wish that this criminal Bush, first of all, if really Obama honest tried to bring to the International Criminal Court Court. But in my country these bunch of killer, who are like Pinochet, Hitler, Khomeini, Mussolini, Suharto, with the mask of democracy they are in power, and this is the main problem. They do not let my people a little bit breathe in peace. Now my people is squashed between two powerful enemies. From the sky, occupation forces bombing, killing civilians under the name of Taliban, most of them women and children. On the ground, Taliban and warlords together, as now negotiate with each other. And for thousandth time, they've proved for the people around the world that they are mental state like each other.

JAY: If there's a force amongst the Afghan people that are going to take on the Taliban and the warlords, that force that people are going to have to be armed, is there that kind of an armed force that has the strength to do this?

JOYA: You know, right now among my people, two kind of resistance in Afghanistan. One is the resistance from the people, these real Afghan. Those Afghan who hate these warlords, Taliban, and they are against the occupation, day by day they do more demonstrations, and nobody listen their voice. Even mainstream media never gave the report of their demonstrations. When they're fed up, they come on the street, they do demonstration, and day by day, this resistance getting more. But another resistance is reactionary resistance, which is from Taliban, these medieval-minded, ignorant people. And my people hate them, of course, not going with them. I remember in my book also you can read that much people fed up that sometimes they come and they tell me, "Malalai," that we have—for example, when we fighted against the occupation and in the period of jihad, that all people, together they fighted against Russia and puppet of Russia. They had some gun, because after 9/11, back these warlords come in power, and they didn't dare to give their gun to this warlord [inaudible] while they have lots of gun as well and the system is in their hand. But these ordinary people say, "Malalai, do you want that we take gun and come out and just start fighting?" Of course that we don't want, and our advice for some of them that they that much fed up they have this idea, we try to change their mind, because that's difference between us, that we fight with pen, we fight with truth, power of the truth.

JAY: Truth alone does not win wars. A lot of people that fought for truth lost wars. What I'm asking you is: are there people with guns who can be a force to take on these reactionary forces?

JOYA: Let me tell you that I wanted to explain that to you, different opinion among people. For example, some people that I met with them, they say, "Malalai, our daughter has been raped, and there are no justice in Afghanistan. They do not listen our voice. We are going with Taliban to take the revenge from the warlord." Different opinion. Of course most people do hate Taliban, and also they hate the gun. They're fed up from the gun. But with passage of time, if they do not stop this occupation, if they do not stop arming the warlord and Taliban, maybe people will take gun or not. But which is clear that they will not sit silence. They do resistance. You are right. You know, in my country now, first casualty is the truth. Mainstream media also still betray the truth. If the truth come out, first of all, justice-loving people of US and great people of Canada and around the world, they will not sit silence, especially those who have troops in Afghanistan. And their governments send taxpayer money to such a mafia, corrupt system.

JAY: During the rule of the Taliban—. And I was in Afghanistan myself in the spring of 2002 after the fall of the Taliban. I know how much people hated the Taliban. I could not find anyone. In fact, the only force people hated as much as the Taliban were the warlords, as you're saying. But during the time of the rule of the Taliban, there did not seem to be any kind of force with the military-political strength to fight them.

JOYA: Our military problem is that if you mean Afghan National Army and police of Afghanistan, the problem is that this city that’s why I told you we almost lost everything. In the past our Afghan National Army was voluntarily, but now my people call their name "Dollar Army". And also this city that’s why I told you that we lost everything, but we gain one positive things, which is political knowledge of the people. This is hope. People hate these warlords. But today, head of the Afghan National Army are these sharks. Some are small fishes; for the crime they commit, they go to the jail. And these sharks free, and then pay they are getting back from free. And who are the head of Afghan national army and police army wear the clothes of the police and Afghan National Army, and still they are doing crimes. My people put the name of that Dollar Army. Most people [inaudible] coming because today 18 million people of Afghanistan, they live on less $2 a day. More than 50 percent people are jobless. So they are coming that with the Afghan National Army, not as a voluntary, because they don't have enough food to eat. In the meantime, their bosses is those people that they are—they have their own militias, these warlord, these leader of these fundamentalist parties. For example, head of Afghan National Army was Abdul Rashid Dostum, that even Mr. Obama raised a voice against that, and mainstream media exposed his mask. But even during this non-democratic election, Abdul Rashid Dostum, come from Turkey, is now enjoying the life in Turkey [inaudible] Karzai. Why they do not raise their voice against that and the many other who have high posts? They are drug traffickers, famous druglords, and also they are head of the land of mafia. For example, assistants of Hamid Karzai's cousin Fahim. One minister of Hamid Karzai, just eight years in the past, he said that Qasim Fahim is head of the land of mafia. But right now, how it is possible that to believe that sweet sound promises of Hamid Karzai against corruption? And how it is possible to stop? Many other regarding army, regarding justice in Afghanistan, today three forces, judicial executive, legislative bodies, infected with the voices of these fundamentalists, they have upper hand. They are ministers, while democratic-minded people of my country, while we have a lot. But still there are underground activists.

JAY: In the next segment of our interview, let's talk about why the United States is in Afghanistan, and then more concretely what you would like countries outside Afghanistan to do. So please join us for the next segment of our interview with Malalai Joya.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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