The following letter to Ottawa City Council comes from an Afghan woman Member of Parliament who expresses her clear opposition to the use of Ottawa facilities for any military trade shows.
Malalai Joya is an elected Afghan Member of Parliament. However, in May 2007 she was barred from Parliament for three years because she had denounced the many foreign-backed warlords and drug barons who dominate her government. While the Afghan Parliament passed a law giving immunity to all Afghan’s who have committed war crimes over the previous 25 years, it also passed a law saying that Afghan MPs could not criticise each other.
So it is permissible to have MPs in Afghanistan’s parliament who are war criminals, but it is not permissible to have MPs in that Parliament who dare to risk death threats for merely criticising the presence of war criminals. This is the democracy that Canada helped to install and is now protecting. Canada helped the US replace the Taliban warlords with the “Northern Alliance” warlords who killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Kabul alone in the 1990s.
For more about Malalai Joya and her ongoing struggle to hold to account those Afghans and their foreign backers who are complicit in mass murder, please view COAT’s slide show on CANSEC.
Excerpts from Malalai’s letter were read to Councillors at the Corporate Services Committee meeting on June 15, 2009. Her struggle to expose Afghan warlords in her government and her removal from Parliament was described. However, several Councillors expressed their outright opposition to the display of graphic photographs — provided by Malalai Joya — that showed civilian victims of allied bombing attacks. These attacks were carried out by warplanes thoroughly embedded with numerous essential Canadian components manufactured by CANSEC 2009 exhibitors.
One Councillor even stated in his closing remarks that Malalai Joya should (instead of being so critical) be thankful that Canadian troops allow her to have a voice in the Afghan Parliament. (The Councillor apparently did not absorb the fact that Malalai has banned from attending the warlord-dominated parliament that Canada helped to install and that Canadian troops are now protecting.)
Here is the letter received from Malalai Joya.
June 12, 2009
As a member of a generation of war and conflict from Afghanistan, and as a representative of a country which has been torn apart by decades of war, occupation and bombs, I join the inspiring protest of peace-loving people of Ottawa against hosting the weapons shows. I strongly support the initiative of Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) against arms and for a peaceful world.
Being from a country devastated by war, we know very well the awful consequences of arms and ammunition produced by countries like Canada. For over 30 years, Afghan people have been bombed, killed, tortured and brutalized by world powers and the armed groups supported by them. Around 2.5 million Afghans have been killed during these years. Today there are over 800,000 disabled people, 25 per cent of them children; there are over 700,000 war widows and millions of orphans. Afghanistan’s soil is still full of over 9 million land mines which take innocent lives on a daily basis.
The Afghan terrorist bands have made life a torture for our nation; they are imposing their extremism and acts of terror with the help of the weapons that are being sent to them from abroad. None of them are able to produce any weapon to kill innocent people.
I think the people of Canada and especially citizens of Ottawa should not allow their soil to be used for displaying any hated weapons used against the poor people of Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.
In the past eight years, under the so-called “war on terror” imposed by the U.S. and allies against Afghan people, thousands of innocent Afghan people have fallen victim to the dreaded war machine of occupation forces. But still the terrorists are getting stronger day by day and Afghanistan is being changed into the world capital of the drug mafia. The coalitions forces are not only killing our people with weapons, some of which are produced in Canada, but they are giving arms and support to warlords who are now policy makers in the puppet government of Hamid Karzai. They misuse their power to suppress Afghan people, especially women.
You may have heard of the USA bombardments of civilians in Afghanistan and the tragedies caused by it. The most recent example is the massacre in Bala Baluk district in Western Afghanistan, where U.S. B-1 bombers dropped a series of 2000-pound bombs on two small villages and over 143 civilians, mostly women and children, where torn into pieces. Many mournful families never found the dead bodies of their loved ones as they were burnt in the flames of the bombs. In a similar incident, a wedding party was targeted in Nengrhar province of Afghanistan and 47 women and children, including the bride, were killed. Such tragedies are daily realities of life for Afghan people.
Dropping thousands of cluster bombs and the depleted-uranium (DU) and white phosphorus bombs used in Afghanistan have caused terrible health problems. It has also ruined our environment and in the past few years the number of congenital abnormalities and disorders in newborn babes have raised to high levels. The use of DU weapons not only put our people in danger, it will also have bad effect on soldiers fighting in that environment. Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan may not be safe from its impact.
The bomblets of cluster bombs, scattered in Afghan villages are like dead gifts to Afghan children and they routinely kill or disable our kids. It is so sad to know that many components in the war planes used to distribute such deadly weapons used against our people are produced in Canada and that they are put on display at Ottawa weapons show.
Canada is seen as a peaceful country by many Afghans. The image of Canada and its people will be badly destroyed in the mind of Afghan people if they know about such shows of weapons, because they are deeply fed up with the years of war and being killed by such weapons.
I call on peace and justice-loving people in Ottawa to raise their voice and stop using of their city for displaying the death machines which are killing poor people in my country. Please express your solidarity with my suffering and crying people, by saying NO to the show of weapons, which drive billions of dollars into the pockets of a few people, at the expense of blood, tears and suffering of the unfortunate people of Afghanistan and other conflict zones.
I pay tribute to all people of Ottawa who raise their voice against the display of weapons and express the thanks of my people to them for caring about their life and miseries.
With due respect,
COAT is a national network of individuals and organizations in Canada that began in late 1988 to organize opposition to ARMX ’89, which was the country’s largest weapons bazaar. COAT has continued to expose and oppose Canada’s role in the international arms trade, particularly where there is trade to governments which are engaged in war or which violate human rights.