[News] Time Magazine Muffles Message of Malalai Joya
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 4 12:22:35 EDT 2010
Time Magazine's Sneaky Way of Muffling the Message of an Afghan Peace Activist
Malalai Joya gets named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential
People of 2010, but allows Ayaan Hirsi to make the announcement and
distort Joya's message.
By <http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/malalaijoya>Malalai Joya
and Sonali Kolhatkar
(May 3, 2010) -- Outspoken Afghan activist and former member of the
Parliament, Malalai Joya has been one of the most vocal opponents of
the US and NATO war in Afghanistan. In a
op-ed she called on the US to "stop murdering my people."
Joya was suspended from the Afghan Parliament nearly 3 years ago for
challenging warlord domination and lives in constant fear of her
life. She has survived several assassination attempts but chooses to
live in Afghanistan. Her memoir,
<http://www.amazon.com/dp/143910946X/?tag=gpfm-20>A Woman Among
Warlords with Derrick O'Keefe was published late last year (Simon and
Schuster). Last week Malalai Joya was named one of
Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" of 2010. I reached her for
an interview via satellite phone in Afghanistan on May 3rd 2010.
Sonali Kolhatkar: You were just named one of the 100 most influential
people of 2010 by TIME Magazine. But author Hirsi Ali, who wrote the
announcement, said "I hope in time she comes to see the U.S. and NATO
forces in her country as her allies. She must use her notoriety, her
demonstrated wit and her resilience to get the troops on her side
instead of out of her country." How do you respond to this statement?
Malalai Joya: I am very angry with the way they have introduced me.
TIME has painted a false picture of me and does not mention anything
at all about my struggle against the occupation of Afghanistan by the
US and NATO, which is disgusting. In fact every one knows that I
stand side-by-side with the glorious anti war movements around the
world and have proved time and again that I will never compromise
with the US And NATO who have occupied my country, empowered the most
bloody enemies of my people and are killing my innocent compatriots
in Afghanistan. What TIME did was like giving an award to someone
with one hand and getting it back with another hand. I have sent my
protest through my <http://www.malalaijoya.com/>Defense Committee,
but TIME did not bother to even answer than protest letter. Perhaps
this is the kind of freedom of expression exercised by TIME and the
US. But I'm happy to see that many of my friends and supporters have
objected to the write-up and expressed it by posting their comments
on TIME's site or sending me many emails.
Sonali Kolhatkar: Earlier this year some journalists were able to
confirm that US troops had killed two pregnant women during a
night-time raid. How common are such occurrences in Afghanistan today?
Malalai Joya: Yes, the US and NATO often lie when they kill innocent
people and also stop media from reporting civilian casualties. Most
of the civilian casualties take place in remote areas of Afghanistan
where there is no media to report it, so no one notices it. In many
cases after killing people NATO [releases] statements saying that
many insurgents were killed. When you try to find out from the local
people, they are actually women and children killed, not insurgents.
Afghan media are also mostly in the hands of the Afghan criminal
bands. They rarely report civilians killed by the US and NATO. In
Afghanistan most media outlets, especially TV channels, are a tool
for warlords of the Northern Alliance. For example warlords like Atta
Mohammed, Qanooni, Mohseni, Mohaqqiq, Rabbani and others, each have
their own TV channel and they naturally do not want to report
civilian casualties by their US and NATO masters.
The US Embassy in Kabul has an office that carefully monitors all
media in Afghanistan and if they find any of them reporting against
US interests, they try using different means to stop it. Bribes are a
very common means used. For the US it's not just fighting a war
through military means, but also on the propaganda front. I think
propaganda plays a major role. They are trying to show the war is
justified. When they kill civilians they immediately deny it and say
that all the people killed are Taliban. When there is no chance for
any independent confirmation, the lies are the only things reflected
in the world media. There are only a few cases where some brave and
like Jerome Starkey have come forward to unmake their shameful lies.
Sonali Kolhatkar: Much has been made recently of Karzai's statements
in favor of the Taliban. How close is the Afghan central government
to forging a peace with the Taliban? What will that mean for the
US/NATO war? What will it mean for the people of Afghanistan?
Malalai Joya: I think Karzai cannot dare to make such a statement or
try to meet the Taliban and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's party leaders
without having an "OK" from the White House. Actually it is the US
that asks him to make peace with the Taliban and Hekmatyar's party or
at least share power with them. Also the US government needs to show
the people of NATO countries that it is not a war-monger and is in
favor of peace talks with the Taliban. But it is just a show. The US
doesn't want to fight the Taliban forever as it needs them as an
excuse to continue the occupation of Afghanistan in the
implementation of its strategic, regional, and military interests. I
think some of the Taliban and Hekmatyar's leaders are already part of
Karzai's regime. One of the main leaders of Hekmatyar's party called
Hadi Arghandiwal is now the Minister of Economy under Karzai.
This is what the US wants. These brutal and inhuman leaders have been
created by the US in the past and are ready to work for the US as
long as their pockets are filled with dollars and high posts are
offered to them in the government. Actually the US government is
trying hard to empower reactionary forces and individuals in
Afghanistan as they can use them to stop the emergence of
pro-democracy and nationalist forces and groups in my country.
Sonali Kolhatkar: You recently wrote in an
in the Daily Beast that there are a lot of anti-US protests happening
in Afghanistan today that go unreported. Tell us more about these
protests - where are they happening, who is protesting, and are they
also against the fundamentalists or just the US/NATO?
Malalai Joya: Yes, we have witnessed the protests of people
especially in the Eastern and Western parts of Afghanistan over the
past year. They are mostly reactions to civilians killed by the US
and NATO. With every bombardment by NATO, angry people come to the
streets to raise anti-US slogans. But unfortunately they are not
organized and in some cases the Taliban uses them. We have seen most
of these protests in Nangahar, Ghazni, Loghar, Herat, and Helmand
provinces but they are usually not reported. A few days ago angry
protestors burned about 20 fuel tankers of NATO in Loghar which was
one out of many such protests reported by the world media.
These protestors are not only against the US and NATO but also
against the Afghan government. People see that this government is
deeply corrupt and in the hands of looters and murderers of the
Northern Alliance. So they are deeply fed up. Last month a large
crowd of thousands of workers in Baghlan province protested against
Mahmood Karzai [vice chairman of the Afghanistan chamber of commerce
and Hamid Karzai's younger brother], head of the "economic mafia" of
Afghanistan who has his hold on some previously state-owned
factories. The US and NATO and the Afghan government usually ignore
people's protests. But I believe that given enough time, such
protests will become even more organized out of people's anger.
Afghans are on the verge of uprising but poverty, destitution, and
the non-existence of powerful democratic-minded forces in our country
stops them from a very serious uprising. I'm sure in the next few
years such forces will emerge and these protests will turn more
powerful to shake the Afghan puppet government and the occupation forces.
Sonali Kolhatkar: The US has made no secret for many months that it
is about to launch an offensive against the Taliban in Kandahar. What
do you think will happen this summer as a result of this offensive?
Malalai Joya: As I said before, the US does not want to fight the
Taliban forever. They only fight with them here and there to show the
American people that the US is at war in Afghanistan and their
presence is necessary here. The offensive in Kandahar will not be
different from Marjah and other areas of Helmand where they had such
operations in the past. They make such a hue and cry about their
military actions but in fact they just push the Taliban to other
areas and then install some corrupt officials and police forces who
are worse than the Taliban. In a few days the Taliban return as we
experienced in the past. They declared Marjah as a Taliban-free
district but in fact the Taliban has a permanent presence there. They
had just left the area for a short time.
After the Marjah operation, a spokesperson of the Afghan Defense
Ministry was asked at a press conference why they allowed the Taliban
to leave the area and why the Taliban were neither killed nor
arrested in Marjah. He answered that the purpose of the operation was
not killing or arresting the Taliban, instead it was to push them out
of the area.
So we expect that they will do the same thing with Kandahar. They
will launch the operation and then allow the Taliban to go to another
area and then later start an operation there. This is a battle for
show, not a real war against terrorism. Otherwise for the US and
NATO, it is a task of only a few days to uproot the Taliban and
defeat them forever. But then everyone will ask them to end the
occupation of Afghanistan.
The only outcome of the Kandahar operation will be civilian
casualties. Poor and innocent people are the only ones killed in the
war. But the Taliban do not experience any defeat or even major
casualties. Afghans know very well that the US will neither bring
democracy nor peace to Afghanistan. They know that the US and NATO
are empowering the enemies of democracy. But it is the duty of the
Afghan people to fight for their values and understand that the
occupation will only drag us more deeply into slavery. As always I
pass this message to justice-loving people around the world that no
nation can donate liberation to another nation.
Sonali Kolhatkar: Can you tell us what the status of your own
parliamentary position is right now, since you were stripped of your
elected position by the fundamentalists some years ago. Have you ever
been made to face a court? Can you run again for parliament in the
Malalai Joya: In the last stage of the Interparliamentary Union
meeting, a delegation of Afghan parliamentarians promised that they
would end my suspension so I could return to Parliament. But it was
just a lie and they did not stand by their promise.
I received a letter from the court some months ago and I answered
truthfully what my strong position was against the warlords. They
asked me to apologize [for my statements made in a
<http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1076620.html>TV interview --and
said that they would allow me back to the Parliament. But I stressed
the truth of my statements and said that I would never apologize to
criminals and looters. However, I still can run for elections which
are due to happen later this year. But I have not made up my mind to run.
But whether I serve in Parliament or outside it, I will continue my
fight for justice, democracy and against the occupation. Parliament
was just a small part of my struggle but I still have many other
options and fields. Going to a Parliament of criminals was a big
torture for me. It was a torture everyday to see the faces of these
brutal men such as Qanooni, Sayyaf, Mohaqqiq, Piram Qul, Haji Almas,
Haji Fayeed, etc there. But I accepted the task on behalf of my people.
I think the next election will be even more disgusting and full of
fraud. The new chief of the election commission is a known warlord of
the Northern Alliance and he will try to bring all these warlords to
the Parliament and stop the emergence of democratic-minded people
like me. Many people think that at this point they will never allow
me to win the election as they can't bear to have me inside the
parliament once more. But I will continue the struggle as long as
these criminals are in power, these sworn enemies of democracy,
women's rights, human rights, and as long as these occupation forces
are bombing from the sky, and supporting the enemies of my people and
killing innocent people of my country.
For more information, visit
<mailto:Sonali at afghanwomensmission.org>Sonali Kolhatkar is
Co-Director of the <http://afghanwomensmission.org/index.php>Afghan
Women's Mission, a US-based non-profit that funds health,
educational, and training projects for Afghan women. She is also the
host and producer of <http://uprisingradio.org/>Uprising Radio, a
daily morning radio program at KPFK, Pacifica in Los Angeles.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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