Joya rejects the NATO coalition, Harper and the excuses for war

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Malalai Joya visits a girls school in Farah province in Afghanistan. Photo: AfghanKabul

In the United States, many looked to the ballot box and hoped for real change when Barack Obama was elected President in 2008.

To be honest, I never expected that he would be any different for Afghanistan than President George W. Bush. The truth is that Obama's war policies have turned out to be even more of a nightmare than most people expected. Obama talked a lot about hope and change, but for Afghanistan the only change has been for the worse.

After almost two years of Obama, the number of U.S. troops occupying Afghanistan has more than doubled. And the number of drone attacks in Pakistan has increased. Obama's so-called surge of troops has resulted in increased Afghan civilian deaths.

The documents released by Wikileaks prove what we have been saying about war in Afghanistan. There are more massacres by NATO forces than they wanted us to believe. Now the whole world should know this war is a disaster.

All this is why, for our people, Obama is a warmonger, like another Bush. These are the reasons that throughout Afghanistan more and more people are taking to the streets to protest the U.S. occupation.

And Obama's surge of the war has also put more U.S. soldiers at risk. And more Canadian troops have died. Why are Obama and Harper wasting so much money on this war when they cannot give jobs or even houses to their own poor people? There are many homeless in Vancouver, but instead Harper spends billions of dollars and new weapons of war...

It has been five years since I was elected to the Afghan Parliament. I faced many obstacles just to get elected. They cut off my microphone. They threatened me with death and illegally removed [me] from my seat.

We had a new election in September, but I have chosen not to participate. Amidst the chaos of occupation and this puppet regime, rule of drug-mafia and warlords, any hope I once had for using the ballot box to achieve change in Afghanistan is now gone.

It was a difficult decision not to fight for my rightful place in parliament. I had invitations to run from many provinces in Afghanistan, and it was difficult to say no to these friends and supporters.

My personal experience, as well as the advice from those close to me, convinced me that I should sit this campaign out.

As the whole world saw, the 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was a total fraud. The whole world knows there was ballot stuffing, vote buying and massive corruption. And there was no real choice anyway. The two candidates were enemies of our people. The only [chance] with this vote for Afghanistan was a new saddle for the same donkey. It turned out we were stuck with the same donkey, wearing the same saddle. Karzai and his corrupt brother in Kandahar province, Wali Karzai, who Afghans call "small Bush."

Again, the September 18 that the parliamentary election was a bad joke. According to the news, in one district in Paktika province, the voter turnout was 626 per cent! There was a great deal of buying and selling of votes.

Over the past five years, the U.S. and allies made warlords more powerful so they can now even more easily highjack the election results. It was a selection, not an election. Most members of Parliament are law-breakers not law makers.

This time, many refused to vote. Afghans don't want so-called democracy and so-called elections where guns and money have the first and last word. Your foreign minister, Peter MacKay, and your Prime Minister Harper call this "democracy" and "progress." But Afghans call this a bad joke.

I never really wanted to be a politician anyway. I was a social activist who used politics to continue my social activism on behalf of the poor of Afghanistan. When no justice can be achieved through the ballot box, the people must find alternative ways to fight for their rights. We will never rest for a moment...

Today Stephen Harper and the Canadian government are trying to deceive the Canadian people about the war in Afghanistan.

Harper is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. On one side, he is saying Canadian troops will leave Afghanistan in 2011. But on the other side Harper is saying to US and NATO, don't worry, Canada will stay with troops and help in different ways to occupy Afghanistan.

And Harper is saying that Canada will stay to do "training" of troops of puppet Karzai regime.

We Afghan people don't need any more "training" from Canadian government after 2011.

We Afghans don't want any more bombing after 2011.

We Afghans don't want any more torture by NATO and Afghan puppet forces.

We Afghans don't want any more occupation by NATO. Instead of staying after 2011, it is better that Canadian troops leave sooner, leave now.

Malalai Joya, now 32, was the youngest woman elected to the Afghan Parliament in 2005. This is an excerpt from a speech delivered Tuesday, Oct. 12 at W2 Storyeum, part of an anti-war benefit evening organized by the Coalition. Joya's book, A Woman Among Warlords (Scribner, 2009), was co-written with Vancouver-based activist and contributor Derrick O'Keefe.

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