Leading Afghan Parliamentarian Visits US to Bring Attention to Increasing Violence, Warlord Domination, Oppression of Women

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA ADVISORY: March 1, 2006

CONTACT: Sonali Kolhatkar – 626-676-7884 – info@afghanwomensmission.org

Leading Woman Member of Afghan Parliament Makes Rare Visit to US to Bring Attention to Increasing Violence, Warlord Domination, and the Continuation of Oppression of Women in her Country

Will be welcomed by local Afghan American Community at LAX to Launch a Nation-Wide Speaking Tour Celebrating International Women’s Day Events

Los Angeles, CA – Afghan Parliamentarian and one of most famous women in her country, Malalai Joya, will arrive in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 1st at 8 pm, to begin a nation-wide tour of the United States.

She will be welcomed United States and greeted at the LAX airport by prominent members of the Afghan-American community of Southern California.

Who: Malalai Joya, Member of Afghan Parliament

What: Afghan Community welcomes Malalai Joya upon her arrival to the United States.

When: 8:20 PM, Wednesday March 1st.

Where: Los Angeles International Airport, Terminal 5, Delta Airlines Flight 2012, arriving from JFK.

“Ms Malalai Joya is a brave woman who has rightly criticized the warlords – she did so even before she was elected to the Parliament, said Dr. Sayed Hashemyan, editor of the “Afghanistan Mirror,” a monthly magazine for the Afghan community. “She has proved her love for her country, and we in the Afghan community have great respect for her.” Dr. Hashemyan will be among those welcoming Ms. Joya at the airport.

Also present will be a representative from the Afghan Women’s Association, and the Pasadena-based Afghan Women’s Mission.

Upon her arrival at Los Angeles International Airport, Joya will be speak to her supporters about the on-going oppression of Afghan women and the increasing instability and violence across Afghanistan.

In September 2005 Malalai Joya ran for election to the 249-seat Afghan National Assembly as a representative of Farah Province and won the second highest number of votes in that province. In a recent profile the BBC called her, “the most famous woman in Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan is becoming more dangerous with each passing year. In fact, 2005 was the bloodiest year since the fall of the Taliban, with 91 US soldiers, and 1,600 civilians killed. There have also been dozens of suicide bombings in recent months – a phenomenon never before seen in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s military and political institutions are dominated by local and regional warlords and drug lords. Instead of being disqualified from running, many warlords won seats in the Parliament through elections which were wracked by intimidation, fraud, and poor attendance.

According to Malalai Joya, her task as an elected representative is: “exposing the real nature of the current parliament and informing the Afghan people from within the Parliament that the criminals … make laws for the benefit of the rich, the drug traffickers, warlords, and high level bureaucrats.”

Today Malalai Joya is one Afghanistan’s most popular elected leaders. At age 27, she is also one of the youngest. She first rose to international prominence in 2003 when she openly denounced the warlords at a gathering to adopt the Constitution. Since then she has received numerous death threats and survived four assassination attempts.

# After her election to the Parliament, she continues to speak out and remains Make a Donation
undaunted by the danger facing her: “They will kill me but they will not kill my voice… because it will be the voice of all Afghan women. You can cut the flower, but you cannot stop the coming of spring” (BBC, January 2006).

Malalai Joya is named after “Malalai of Maiwand” – one of Afghanistan’s greatest heroines, who ran onto the battlefield at Maiwand in 1880 and rallied the Afghan forces to defeat the British.

Malalai Joya’s first speaking event of her nation-wide tour is on Monday March 6th at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church (663 S. Berendo) in Los Angeles at 7 pm. Visit www.afghanwomensmission.org for more details. Her trip to the United States is designed to coincide with Women’s History Month (March 2006).

NOTE: Malalai Joya will be available for a limited number of interviews during her stay in Los Angeles. Contact Sonali Kolhatka 626-676-7884 to schedule an interview.

Organized by Afghan Women’s Mission, www.afghanwomensmission.org.

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CONTACT
Voice: 626-676-7884
E-mail: info@afghanwomensmission.org

February 13, 2006

Nationwide Tour of Afghan Woman Activist and Parliamentarian

Los Angeles – 27 year old Afghan women’s rights activist and MP, Malalai Joya, will kick off a nationwide speaking tour across the United States on March 6th, 2006. In a recent profile the BBC referred to her as “the most famous woman in Afghanistan.” Joya first gained international attention when she publicly denounced warlords at the 2003 Constitutional Loya Jirga (traditional grand assembly) in Kabul.

Since then she has survived numerous assassination attempts and is routinely threatened by the powerful men she criticizes. She now requires armed security guards and travels incognito inside Afghanistan. Her courage in standing up to the warlords has earned her great popularity among the people of Afghanistan. In September 2005 she ran for election to the 249-seat Afghan National Assembly as a representative of Farah Province and won the second highest number of votes in that province.

For the first time since her election to the Afghan Parliament, Malalai Joya will visit the United States on a multi-city speaking tour to share her experiences with Americans. Her primary message is that, contrary to media reports and White House officials, Afghan women are far from liberated. In fact, warlords, supported over the years by the US, are among the greatest threats to women’s freedom today. According to Joya, “[U]nder the name of Islam, these criminals did a lot of crimes against our people, especially against the women of Afghanistan.” For more information, visit www.malalaijoya.com.

If you are a member of the media and would like to schedule an interview with Malalai Joya, please call 626-676-7884. Or email info@afghanwomensmission.org.

Please note, interviews can only be scheduled after March 5, 2006, when Ms. Joya is in the US.

If you would like to interview Malalai Joya in studio, please check our event calendar to see if she will be in a city near you.

BACKGROUND:

Malalai Joya is the daughter of a former medical student who was wounded while fighting against the Soviet Union (which invaded and occupied Afganistan from 1979 – 1989). Malalai was 4 years old when her family fled Afghanistan in 1982 to the refugee camps of Iran and then Pakistan. She finished her education in Pakistan and began teaching literacy courses to other women at age 19. After the Soviets left, Malalai Joya returned to Afghanistan in 1998 during the Taliban’s reign. During that time she established an orphanage and health clinic, and was soon a vocal opponent of the Taliban.

Joya currently heads the non-governmental group, “Organisation of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities” (OPAWC) and administers Hamoon Health Clinic in Farah, Afghanistan. She is married to a Kabul-based student of agriculture and has six sisters and three brothers.

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