In just a few days, over 2500 people have signed an online petition to protest the denial of a U.S. travel visa to Afghan women's rights activist and author Malalai Joya, who was to make a three-week U.S. tour to promote the updated edition of A Woman Among Warlords.
On Sunday, Joya addressed the closing plenary of the Left Forum in New York City via Skype, opening her remarks by saying, "Now the U.S. government tries to stop me from entering, but they can never block my voice from reaching the great and peace-loving people in the United States."
The effort to overturn this visa denial continues. On March 18, a letter signed by six congresspeople and three senators urged that Joya be allowed the right to travel and complete her book tour in the United States.
A number of initiatives are being undertaken by activists across the United States to protest Joya's exclusion. There will be a rally on Wednesday at Harvard University, where Joya and Noam Chomsky are due to speak at a forum on 'The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan' this Friday, March 25.
Petition: Let Malalai Joya speak in the United States!
We, the undersigned, call on the U.S. State Department to grant a visa to Malalai Joya for entry to the United States. We protest the denial of a travel visa to Joya, an acclaimed women's rights activist and former member of Afghanistan's parliament. Ms. Joya, who was named one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2010, was set to begin a three-week U.S. tour to promote an updated edition of her memoir, A Woman Among Warlords, published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
We agree with Joya's publisher at Scribner, Alexis Gargagliano, who said, "We had the privilege to publish Ms. Joya, and her earlier 2009 book tour met with wide acclaim. The right of authors to travel and promote their work is central to freedom of expression and the full exchange of ideas." Joya's memoir has been translated into over a dozen languages, and she has toured widely including Australia, the U.K., Canada, Norway, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, and the Netherlands in support of the book over the past two years.
Malalai Joya's voice is one that must be heard in the United States. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, government officials put forward their concern for the rights of Afghan women as a central justification for the invasion. Today, we have the opportunity for an Afghan woman to speak to American audiences about the present and future of her people. We call upon the State Department to grant Malalai Joya a visa so that she can contribute her much needed, but rarely heard perspective to a timely discussion about the U.S.' involvement in Afghanistan.
Signatories include: Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Eve Ensler, Frances Fox Piven and John Nichols.
Please add your signature here.