News from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
News from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)






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New Statesman, January 31, 2010

Malalai Joya talks about her hopes for her country, her heroes and the London conference

The US government doesn't want a democratic Afghanistan, so it counts on its puppets who are anti-democracy and anti-woman to the marrow of their bones.

Interview by Mehdi Hasan

What is your earliest memory?

I was only four days old when the coup of 27 April took place and the Russian puppet regime was installed in Afghanistan [in 1978]. One of my earliest memories is of clinging to my mother's legs while police ransacked our house, looking for my father. They turned it upside down searching for clues, emptying everything out of drawers, ripping open mattresses and pillows.

Do you still hope to return to the Afghan parliament?

Malalai Joya iwth her guard in Kabul, Jan.2010 (Photo: New Statesman)

Yes. I have challenged my illegal suspension in court, although in two years there has been no progress. My case is being followed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, but it is also deeply fed up with the Afghan parliament, as it only makes empty promises.

I knew from the very first day in parliament that it is a meeting place for the worst enemies of the Afghan people. The majority are warlords, drug lords and human rights violators. The parliament in occupied Afghanistan is a show of democracy. It has not brought anything positive to the Afghan people in the past five years and it will not do anything for my people in future. They have only passed laws that are anti-democratic and anti-woman.

When I was in parliament, these brutal men and women gave me a hard time. They regarded me as an obstacle to their sinister plans. My suspension was a political conspiracy. But I still want to return to this defamed and undemocratic parliament, as I regard it as a good platform from which to raise the voice of my voiceless people and expose the parliament's reactionary nature from within. There, I can challenge the brutal and powerful warlords, so they cannot pass their laws easily, far from the eyes of the Afghan people.

Who are your political heroes?

I don't want to name a specific person. My people, the suppressed millions, are my heroes. They are the real source of any positive change in Afghanistan and their power is stronger than anything else. And anti-war protesters around the world, those who are standing against the destructive policies of world powers. There is a superpower in the world besides the US government -- world public opinion.

What inspires you to keep going?

The suffering of my people, especially women.

Do you live in fear, or hope?

Both. I fear that I will not live to see freedom for Afghanistan and a joyful life for my people in a democratic and just society. But I have great hope that we will eventually be free, democratic and prosperous and that this can be achieved by the men and women of my own country.

In the past 30 years of conflict, we lost everything in Afghanistan. But it also taught us many things. Our people's political consciousness and awareness were raised and they do not accept the domination of national and foreign invaders or criminal forces. This is a great asset in the Afghan people's struggle for liberation and it gives me hope for a bright future.

What do you believe the Afghanistan summit in London can achieve?

I don't expect anything positive from the London conference at all. Since 2001, there have been a number of conferences. They have only pushed Afghanistan further into the hands of the occupying forces and their local agents.

The Afghan government begs for funding from the international community in the name of its people, but the billions of dollars poured into the country are looted by warlords, drug lords, national and international NGOs and government officials. Much of it goes back into the pockets of the donor countries.

According to US government sources, more than $60bn in aid has been given to Afghanistan since 2001. Such a huge amount could have turned Afghanistan into a paradise, if it were properly spent. But that money did not reach the needy people, so I am sure that any other amount sent in future will have no impact on poor Afghans and will only widen the gap between rich and poor.

Over 70 per cent of Afghans are living below the poverty line, but the Afghan government spent $4.2m