Afghanistan: "A Woman Among Warlords" Malalai Joya
Democracy Now Interview:
October 28, 2009
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about Afghanistan, we're joined here in our
firehouse studio by Malalai Joya, one of Afghanistan's leading democracy
activists. In 2005, she became the youngest person ever elected to the
Afghan parliament. She was suspended in 2007 for her denunciation of
warlords and their cronies in government. She has just written her memoir, A
Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Woman Who Dared
to Speak Out. It was written with Derrick O'Keefe.
I welcome you to Democracy Now!, Malalai. When you hear in all the US media
"bloodiest month of the eight-year war," of course they're talking about US
soldiers killed in Afghanistan. How does that make you feel? How do we know
how many Afghans have died over these last eight years?
MALALAI JOYA: Yeah, first of all, thanks for this interview. And let me say
in the beginning, on behalf of my people, condolences to those American
mothers who lost their sons recently in Afghanistan, and other moms that
belong to these NATO countries, as their governments these eight years,
waste the blood of their soldiers in Afghanistan and their taxpayers' monies
by supporting warlords, these drug lords and terrorists who are a photocopy
of Taliban, since they come in power.
So, this eight years, about less than 2,000 Talib has been killed, more than
8,000 innocent civilians has been killed. That's why, day by day, we believe
that this is not war on terror, this is war on innocent civilians, as they
even do massacre in Afghanistan, what they did on May, that-in Farah
province, more than 150 civilians has been killed, most of them women and
children. Even they used white phosphorus and cluster bomb. And also, 200
civilians on 9th of September in Kunduz province has been killed, again most
of them women and children. You can see the website of Professor Marc
Herold, this Democrat American man that-to know better about war crime in
Afghanistan they impose on our people.
And at least today's reporters in have to know that even by presence of
thousands troops in Afghanistan, there is no security in Kabul. How-but
around Afghanistan, while the government has no control, now my people are
sandwiched between two powerful enemies: from the sky, occupation forces
bombing and killing innocent civilians-as I said, these troops themselves
are the victim of this wrong policy of their government; on the ground,
Taliban and these warlords together continue to deliver fascism against our
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about the latest news, Malalai Joya, about the brother
of Hamid Karzai, Ahmed Wali Karzai, the New York Times revealing today that
Ahmed has been on the CIA payroll for much of the past eight years. Who is
MALALAI JOYA: You know, my people call him "Small Bush" in Kandahar
province, this brother of Hamid Karzai. But he's-this is not the first time
that New York Times wrote. Recently also, I wrote that he's a famous drug
trafficker. And many others who have high posts in Karzai's government,
sometimes his ministers, expose each other that they-for persons who had
high posts in Karzai government, they are drug traffickers. And the
government says stop planting of opium, but the governor commanders of the
same province is drug traffickers. This eight years, $36 billion the
government of Afghanistan received, while they themselves give report. Most
of this money went into pocket of warlords, drug lords, [inaudible] lords,
these donors and officials themselves. And at least this example should be
in of that right now. Even some important media is writing and sometimes
exposing these drug lords and these warlords in Afghanistan, that right now
I say that, for example, brother of Hamid Karzai is receiving millions of
dollars through dirty business of opium.
And this was the main project of the CIA in Afghanistan, that under the
banner of women rights, human rights, democracy, they occupied my country.
They imposed these terrorists, blood and creed of the Taliban, on my people.
And also they changed my country to the center of drug. Only [inaudible]
have to know about the deep tragedy of Afghanistan and wrong policy of the
US, that even UN gave report, that recent report of the UN. Right now-oh, my
god, I think you also got this report. Anyway, that right now, as I said,
that they changed Afghanistan to the center of drug. They received millions
of dollars that has been looted. Situation of women is getting worse. And
security, how much important-day by day, it's worse for my people,
especially for the women. And that's why, because of all of these main
reasons, we-day by day, we say this is the mockery of democracy and mockery
of war on terror.
AMY GOODMAN: Does Ahmed Karzai have a relationship with Mullah Omar?
MALALAI JOYA: Sorry?
AMY GOODMAN: With Mullah Omar?
MALALAI JOYA: You know, these warlords, they have, of course-that, as I
said, they are blood and creed of each other, they have links with each
other, as now they are negotiating - are ready to negotiating with each
other. Karzai himself called Taliban these dinosaurs' brothers, as-during
the election. And also, Abdullah Abdullah, this main candidate of the
warlords during this so-called free election-
AMY GOODMAN: Who's running for president against Karzai.
MALALAI JOYA: Yeah, they-yeah, both of them. They betrayed a lot my people.
And now they are running for the election, as my people, even they use this
power, that the result of this election will be like the same donkey but
with new saddle. Anyway, both of them call Taliban brothers, these
terrorists. And both of them ready to do negotiate and invite Mullah Omar,
this fascist man, to join the government. Both of them are puppets. And both
of them, that they are busy with this dirty business of opium. And at least
you know better about them. I think only this eight years is enough to know
better about them.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about the upcoming runoff election scheduled
for November 7th. Earlier this week, the presidential contender, as you were
talking about, Abdullah Abdullah, called for the dismissal of Azizullah
Ludin, the chair of the Independent Electoral Commission. Ludin is a former
ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: Dismissal, immediate dismissal, of Mr. Ludin from the
Election Commission. He has left no credibility for the institution and,
unfortunately, for he, himself, in order to be trusted by the people of
Afghanistan as the head of an independent body.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response, Malalai Joya, to what Abdullah Abdullah is
calling for, to his being removed from the Electoral Commission?
MALALAI JOYA: You know, this election is just a tragic drama, I think the
most fraudulent and also ridiculous election in the world, as election under
the shadow of gun, warlordism, drug lordism, awful corruption, and
occupation forces has no legitimacy at all. As a famous saying, it's not
important who is voting, it's important who's counting. Even my people,
before of the result of the election, they discussed among each other,
people on the streets, that the winner will be picked out by White House, as
now you see that one puppet can be replaced with another puppet. Now,
between two puppet fighting because of the power, $250 million they spent
for this election. They waste the money. And they want to more waste-to
waste more money in Afghanistan.
And also, millions of people did not attend in the election, because they
know that their word will be betrayed, same like in the past, and also their
wishes has no role in this election. As I say, that both of them invite
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and also Mullah Omar to join the government as a
moderate. And both of them want more occupation forces in Afghanistan, which
will bring more war and more conflict. So both of them betrayed a lot my
people, especially women of my country.
To know better about Abdullah Abdullah, it's in of that-he did civil war
from '92 to '96. He and other brothers of him, like these other warlords who
are right now in power, like Dostum, like Sayyaf, Rabbani, Qanooni, Ismail
Khan, Mohaqiq, these dirty-minded elements, who accused as war criminal. And
Karzai, he choose two cruel men, like Qasim Fahim and Karim Khalili, as vice
president. Even Human Rights Watch said Karzai insulting the people of
Afghanistan. But in spite national and international condemnation, he didn't
change the mind. But I am saying he's betraying my people still more.
AMY GOODMAN: You're a very brave woman, Malalai Joya. I wanted to go to a
clip of you saying essentially this years ago. You called-we're going to go
to the Enemies of Happiness. The film begins in December 2003 in a meeting
of Afghanistan's newly elected constitutional assembly, the Loya Jirga. A
then-unknown twenty-four-year-old woman steps to the microphone to deliver a
speech that will make international headlines and draw threats on her life.
CHAIRMAN: [translated] What are you saying?
MALALAI JOYA: [translated] We kids can't get a word in. I would like to
say a few words, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: [translated] Wait a minute. Stay in your seats. One sister says
that she has traveled far. She insists that we haven't given the kids enough
speaking time. You have three minutes, please.
MALALAI JOYA: [translated] My name is Malalai Joya from the Farah
province. With the permission of all those present and in respect of the
martyrs who were killed, I would like to speak. 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.
CHAIRMAN: [translated] Sit down! 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.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Malalai Joya, who was standing up, what many have
called "Afghanistan's bravest woman." Malalai Joya, in our firehouse studio,
who has written her memoir called A Woman Among Warlords. Describe what you
were thinking at that moment and how dangerous it was for you.
MALALAI JOYA: Yeah, as my people was not sure that I will be alive until
now, same my supporters around the world. But the reason that today I am
alive, because of the strong support of these voiceless, suffer, poor people
of my country. As two years before these warlords, drug lords, these
criminals, they expelled me from the parliament, which was quite illegal act
and anti-freedom of speech.
AMY GOODMAN: You were elected?
MALALAI JOYA: I were elected.
AMY GOODMAN: In.?
MALALAI JOYA: Yeah, in 2005, for the second time. People voted, and as I was
very famous in Afghanistan and around the world, and if they do not allow
me, as all the boxes was in the hands of this mafia, they're cheating was
clear for the world, not only for my people.
But few Democrats in the parliament, me and others, that in the beginning,
as they made amnesty law that criminals forgive themselves, we raised our
voice against this disgusting law, which gives impunity to criminals. As
much as they can, they continue to their fascism. But despite we raised our
voice, nobody listened the voice. And Karzai also signed this disgusting
law. And one reason that they expelled me from parliament was that, because
I never did compromise with them, even they beated inside of parliament,
they threatened me to rape inside of parliament, and many threats like this.
AMY GOODMAN: They threatened to rape you in parliament?
MALALAI JOYA: Inside of the parliament. And also, all of these threats you
can see on my websites. But now, after when they expelled me from
parliament, now, as in Kabul, I'm changing safe house to safe houses. Even
with burqa and bodyguard, it's not safe. When you compare my life with the
dark period of Taliban, these terrorists, as an activist, that I was
underground activist, on that time, it was risky, but now, under the name of
democracy and by presence of these thousands troops, it is, even with burqa
and bodyguard, not safe. Many assassination attempts. And I am a person, on
behalf of those Democrat and voiceless, innocent people of my country, in
front of you. But many others like me, there is no security for them. They
are underground activists now.
AMY GOODMAN: The big debate in the United States is this surge. Now the
discussion is not how many troops will President Obama-how many more troops
will he send to Afghanistan, or will he send more troops, but how many more.
That's what the debate has become. What is your thought? What should happen
to the US soldiers now?
MALALAI JOYA: You know, that as I said, these troops are the victim of the
wrong policy of their government. They send them for a bad cause: for war.
They say war of Afghanistan is good war, war of Iraq is bad war, while war
is war and impossible to bring democracy, women rights, human rights by war.
And unfortunately, Obama's policy and Obama's message for my people is quite
similar, like his foreign policy like Bush administration. He wants to surge
more troops in Afghanistan, which will bring more conflict, more war.
Obama is going to decorate barbaric Taliban as a moderate, to give them a
chance to bring them also in power, put soft name on these terrorists, while
we have no moderate Talib. And also, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, they invite this
fascist man to joint he government. This terrorist also come in power,
situation will be more bloody. If really Obama honest for my people, at
least they apologize to my people and first of all try to put to the court
the criminal Bush to the ICC, and also many Bushes in my country that, this
eight years, they changed Afghanistan to the safe haven for terrorism and
center of drug.
AMY GOODMAN: But so often in this country, the argument is actually used
that it's the women of Afghanistan who benefit most from the US occupation
and the war.
MALALAI JOYA: They're betrayed more. Opposite. Quite opposite. The first
casualty in my country is the truth. Still they betray the truth, especially
mainstream medias, put dust on the eyes of the people around the world. As
after 9/11 that they occupied Afghanistan, they say women for the first time
do not wear burqa and they are free, while it's a big lie. And today, most
of women are wearing burqa because of security. I wear a burqa just to be
alive, this disgusting burqa, which is symbol of oppression, I think. And
like a shroud for life body most of women are wearing to be alive. Rape
cases, domestic violences and also [inaudible] on the face of the girls and
killing of women increasing rapidly.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you fear for your life when you go home? And why do you
return to Afghanistan, finally, Malalai?
MALALAI JOYA: Of course, I go, because we have lots of responsibility.
Responsibility of Democrat men and women is a lot, as we believe no nation
can donate liberation to another nation. And we are ready to build our
country, if US and its allies let us a little bit breathe in peace. Now
between two powerful enemies, with the withdrawal of one enemy occupation
forces as their government supporting warlords, and also now Taliban. They
stop supporting them, then it's much easier to fight one enemy instead of
If really Obama honest for my people, support the democratic-minded people
of my country, we have a lot. But he not only support democratic-minded
people of my country, he's going to start war in Pakistan by drawing attack
in the border area of Pakistan. And I think the survey that they did of
civilian casualty, those people, innocent people, who has been killed, more
has been killed in the Obama period than even criminal Bush.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us, Malalai Joya,
one of Afghanistan's leading democracy activists. In 2005 she became the
youngest person ever elected in the Afghan parliament. Her memoir is now
out; it's called A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an
Afghan Woman Who Dared to Speak Out. It was written with Derrick O'Keefe.
Speaking of drones, when we come back from our break, we will talk about the
situation of drones in Pakistan. Stay with us.
MALALAI JOYA: Thank you.