Dissent into hell
Further to this ...
While I was away, my friend and colleague Linda McQuaig also wrote about our deadly mission in Afghanistan. (Looks like more civilians, children included, were killed by NATO forces today.) I want to point out this bit by Linda:
We're not much interested in that side of the story. While the Harper government and Canadian media show great interest in dissidents in Iran, China and Burma, they've shown little in Malalai Joya, an elected Afghan MP who was expelled from parliament for calling for the prosecution of war criminals in the Afghan government and parliament.
Hers is a compelling case championed by women's groups around the world – a young female MP in a viciously patriarchal land daring to challenge Afghanistan's powerful warlords. Yet, despite our supposed concern about Afghan women and democracy, the Canadian government and media have paid scant attention to Joya – perhaps because she considers NATO an occupier and calls for its immediate withdrawal from her country.
Here is a young Afghan woman who set up a secret underground school for girls under the Taliban and – when they were toppled – cast off the burka, ran for parliament, and took on the religious fundamentalists.
But she says: “Dust has been thrown into the eyes of the world by your governments. You have not been told the truth. The situation now is as catastrophic as it was under the Taliban for women. Your governments have replaced the fundamentalist rule of the Taliban with another fundamentalist regime of warlords. (That is) what your soldiers are dying for.” Instead of being liberated, she is on the brink of being killed.
As soon as the Taliban retreated, they were replaced – by the warlords who had ruled Afghanistan immediately before. Joya says that, at this point, “I realized women’s rights had been sold out completely... Most people in the West have been led to believe that the intolerance and brutality towards women in Afghanistan began with the Taliban regime. But this is a lie. Many of the worst atrocities were committed by the fundamentalist mujahedin during the civil war between 1992 and 1996. They introduced the laws oppressing women followed by the Taliban – and now they were marching back to power, backed by the United States. They immediately went back to their old habit of using rape to punish their enemies and reward their fighters.”
The warlords “have ruled Afghanistan ever since,” she adds. While a “showcase parliament has been created for the benefit of the U.S. in Kabul”, the real power “is with these fundamentalists who rule everywhere outside Kabul”. As an example, she names the former governor of Herat, Ismail Khan. He set up his own “vice and virtue” squads which terrorized women and smashed up video and music cassettes. He had his own “private militias, private jails”. The constitution of Afghanistan is irrelevant in these private fiefdoms.
Karzai rules only with the permission of the warlords. He is “a shameless puppet” who will win next month’s presidential elections because “he hasn’t yet stopped working for his masters, the U.S. and the warlords ... At this point in our history, the only people who get to serve as president are those selected by the U.S. government and the mafia that holds power in our country.”
Joya is clearly not safe. And yet this brave woman speaks truth to power and corruption.
We should do her the honour of listening.
So, again, why is Canada in Afghanistan?