The pursuit of Joya

Malalai Joya spoke last night at an anti-war benefit hosted by in Vancouver’s new cultural centre the W2.  This was the second time I’ve seen her speak and I was still affected by her relentless determination to call out the real perpetrators in the war in Afghanistan.  Getting to see her live, reading her book, and watching clips I’ve gained a certain fondness for her unpolished English and what I think of as Joya terminology. Spoken in admiration: “freedom loving people.” Spoken with disdain: “puppet government.”  But make no mistake she is not out to joke around. In fact, her passion and conviction are almost spookily inhuman.  And, I’ve started to almost think of her as not a woman but the symbol of the struggle of the Afghan people.

If you haven’t heard of Malalai Joya, she first exploded into the world scene in December of 2003 when she publicly denounced the (puppet) government at the meeting to ratify the Constitution of Afghanistan.  She believed that this event which had loads of media present, including CNN and BBC, was a charade by and for the West to display the success of the War On Terror and the “liberation” of Afghanistan.  She includes her reaction to the meeting in her autobiography:

“I was shocked and appalled to see warlords and other well-known war criminals seated in the first row of this important assembly.  All my life I had heard of the horrible things they had done, and some I had seen with my own eyes. In refugee camps were I grew up, stories of their savagery were commonplace…” – p.s. this is the government that Canada supports

With this anger rising she manages to shove her way to the mic and demands an opportunity to speak:

She was 25 years old at the time of this speech. I’m 25 years old and I spent most of my free time this week watching a very mediocre television show on alien invasion.

After they cut off her microphone there was an uproar of support and damnation of Joya’s words.  One female delegate even said, “Take the pants off this prostitute and tie them on her head!” Joya reflects, “from that moment on, I would never be safe again.” But she also realized, “…how much words are powerful weapons and that I had to continue speaking the truth for the sake of the Afghan people who have been silenced for so long.”

And, so she has.  If you want to fill in the gaps of her life and the story of Afghanistan through the eyes of women who were born and raised in Afghanistan and continue fight for their own country I urge you to buy Malalai Joya’s book A Woman Among Warlords and check out the work of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).

I’ll leave you with one last quote from Malalai Joya’s book:

” As I never tire of telling my audiences, no nation can donate liberation to another nation. These values must be fought for and won by the people themselves. They can only grow and flourish when they are planted by the people in their own soil and watered by their own blood and tears.”

Then what good is Canada really doing in Afghanistan?

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