What a fascinating series of events here in NYC with Malalai Joya. She spoke to students at CUNY and NYU; at the UN, to anti-war activists, and in conversation with Eve Ensler of V-day.
“There are countless NGO’s in Kabul,” but Malalai spoke of the situation in Afghanistan as disastrous for women. Joya follows the stories of individual women, including young women raped, killed, and deprived of rights through a combination of religious superstition, war-time brutality, and subjugation to international empire. She refers constantly to the “justice-loving” people of the world, and to the people of Afghanistan as those she tries to represent.
Joya lays blame for this whole disaster with three sources: the Taliban, created by the U.S. in the 70′s; with the warlords supported first by the Soviet Union, and now by the U.S, and most importantly with the U.S. occupation which tends to reinforce the Taliban and the warlords. She calls them all enemies of the Afghan people, and says very strongly, the U.S. occupiers should “get lost” so that the Afghan people can struggle on their own for what kind of society they will have.
We heard some examples; of the massacre in Farah province, her home province, where 150 were killed by a U.S. airstrike, with evidence of the use of white phosphorous by the occupiers. “$2,000 bloody dollars is how they count a life,” referring to the payments by U.S. military to families. They urinate on corpses, and people are “fed up” with them.
A man in one of the audiences told me afterward of his experience in the U.S. military in Afghanistan, at a Forward Operating Base. A women had come begging at the gate to be let in and protected from family and villagers who wanted to punish and perhaps kill her for a real or imagined violation of tribal law. But the soldiers didn’t let her in, saying they did not want to piss off the tribal elders or get involved in local disputes. The man told me of his outrage at her situation, and his comrades’ reaction. If he would have been at the gate, he would have let her in and taken the consequences, but admitted that they general tenor of U.S. forces was not to protect the people.
At the same time, there is a big source for hope in the actions of people working for a just society. Specifically, she said, there are people collecting evidence of war crimes for future prosecutions by the International Criminal Court (of which the U.S. is not a member). Afghans want an end to the occupation, and, if they go from the frying pan into the fire after the U.S. leaves, “at least the corrupt puppet mafia regime in power won’t have U.S. to keep them in power any longer.”
Rodrigo Guim is making a film of Malalai’s life. See a clip here and support it.