Release the Bats – freedom in Afghanistan

I wrote a blog post at the end of 2005 about Malalai Joya, a young female Afghan Member of Parliament who had caught my attention when I saw report of her speaking out against the warlords, war criminals and drugs barons she said were in the Parliament and holding senior government positions – calling them “blood sucking bats” clawing at the men and women of her country. This morning I had the privilege of hearing her speak at a breakfast organised by UNIFEM to mark International Women’s Day.

The breakfast attracted an enormous crowd of 1300 people, which gives some indication of the interest this very brave woman attracts. I believe she is also giving further speeches over the next few days in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide.

She gave a very powerful and quite confronting speech about the current situation in Afghanistan, which sounds truly appalling. The situation faced by most women remains dire, and the grip of various violent fundamentalists seems little better than it was under the Taliban. She was quite angry that people known to be involved in serious violence and killings were being supported in such power. She specifically mentioned recent legislation passed by the Afghan Parliament which provides an amnesty for war criminals.

She had held a small meeting the day before with members of the local Afghan community in Brisbane, most of whom are refugees. I saw a couple of them at the breakfast and asked them their views. They were very much in agreement with Ms Joya’s comments and said she was even more powerful and compelling at the meeting the day before, where she had been able to speak and engage in discussion in her native tongue.

I must say I have no idea how the situation in Afghanistan can be overcome. Taking on powerful warlords and trying to put them on trial, or even trying to sideline them, would probably generate even more upheaval. But things are certainly not going to advance if they keep receiving tacit support from western countries. I’m not sure of what the best alternative path is, but the current one seems to be heading the wrong direction. Supporting people like Malalai Joya and other genuine democrats seems like a good alternative

This Wikipedia entry contains some details about Ms Joya and many links to reports of her comments. The website of the Defense Committee for Malalai Joya also contains a lot of information. Her courage in standing on such fundamental issues make a stark contrast to the pathetic mud-slinging and pompous posturing that is currently dominating so much of Australian politics.

ELSEWHERE:  An account of Malalia Joya’s speech can be found in this piece at Online Opinion. Some interviews and articles can be found in The Courier-Mail, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph.

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4 Comments

  1. Agreed – lining that up wtih Zimbabwe, Sudan and all the other places in turmoil it makes our own whinging about things here in Australia equally pathetic too.

  2. Wether I failed to present myself well or not,or the censor has been at it again my previous post isnt here.I was pointing out that I cannot accept Kens point about whingeing and the inequality of him and me being dogs as compared to a politician.Not Romulus and Remulus or however they were spelt.If a Koranic man under all circumstances, is equal to two women,then Australian men must be equal to one politician whatever sexual significance.Preceeding along that line it is plainly evident Afghani men who decide that the Koranic view justifies a greater understanding than life experiences,would have to make a choice of being tolerant or not,because well an example of women being equal to men has already been established even under Taliban rule.And that was an OLYMPIC rifler of sports shooter.They are capable of accurate and deadly fire,if it wasnt Olympic sport.To a man that has been to war,this must be a example that the worthy Koran must be seen in context,and proceed to admit the tool that some will claim helps defend the Koran isnt so clearly defined if women can shoot, as just one woman with accuracy that is world renown,or competitive enough for that recognition.Women are not trying to be equals with men in Afghanistan,on all matters, otherwise the abusers of the young woman mentioned by the Senator, would be given the same, back ,plus, death threats with substance.Actually she wants Afghani men to heal themselves of a problem that is hurting men in Afghanistan as much as women,and that is there obvious real talents and potentials recognised,wether the men generally accept them as equals or not.

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