The longest war to date in contemporary American history is the war with Afghanistan. With interests building the fresh battlefields of Syria and Lebanon, American public consciousness has all but forgotten its government’s role in the Afghani conflict and the state of civilians caught in the crossfire. Malalai Joya, a women’s rights activist and former member of the Afghani parliament, has come to the forefront, however, with her refusal to remain silent concerning the turmoil in her country.
Joya’s story is one for the books. In the official rhetoric, writes the Independent, is everything we’ve been fighting for. Casting off the burka and running against religious fundamentalists, Malalai has experienced seven assassination attempts due to her efforts to provide underground education for girls and speak out against the warlords that are tearing her beloved country apart.
“I don’t fear death,” she states plainly, “I fear remaining silent in the face of injustice. I am young, and I want to live.” And to those looking to kill her: “I am ready, wherever and whenever you might strike. You can cut down the flower, but nothing can keep the coming of the spring.”
Joya’s activism has made her a target for both the Taliban and the U.S. sponsored regime in Afghanistan. She lives underground and never leaves her home without an armed escort. Attempts on her life have included bombs hidden in her path and the raining of gunfire at unexpected times. She says she’s been lucky to escape, and even though the assassination attempts only seem to be getting closer to their goal, she refuses to back down.
Joya’s passion includes freedom from oppression, and she fights unceasingly for Afghani women and education. She claims hundreds of schools have been closed because of a lack of security and that teachers have been kidnapped, raped, and even beheaded. There are numerous unreported examples of girls who’ve had acid thrown on their faces or been raped on their way to school.
“When we are ruled by misogynists and warlords, how can we expect the education for girls will improve?” Joya argued, “They know educated women have their own identities.”
She’s not far from the truth. 25 percent of parliamentary seats in Afghanistan belong to women, but women’s rights continuously suffer. Women that are the heads of major NGOs have obtained fame and wealth from the occupation by the puppet Mafia regime and have turned into “NGO-lords” themselves, according to Joya.
With no one to defend Afghani women, Malalai Joya has taken it upon herself and garnered media attention around the world for the positive changes she pushes for. While she doesn’t harbor contempt for U.S. and NATO involvement, she argues that it could only benefit Afghanistan if the United States stopped empowering warlords that have been cloaked in the disguise of democracy.
But Malalai has hope for her country. She’s a firm believer that, eventually, peaceful Afghani citizens will rise from the oppression and be freed of the shackles of both the warlords and foreign powers with geopolitical interest in the region.
“One day, we will win,” she says, “and that is why I will not leave Afghanistan. We can liberate ourselves.”
– Janki Kaswala