March 21, 2011
Nearly a week after former Afghan Parliamentarian and acclaimed human rights activist Malalai Joya was denied a U.S. visa, a national network of activists is calling on everyone across the country to demand that the State Department let Ms. Joya in.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
On Wednesday March 23, call Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department at 202-647-5291 between 9 am to 5 pm Eastern Standard Time. Press “1” and leave a comment stating that you are outraged at Malalai Joya’s exclusion from the U.S. and that you would like the State Department to immediately grant Ms. Joya an emergency appointment and visa at any U.S. Embassy she has applied.
Joya was due to enter the U.S. on March 19th for three weeks of events spanning over a dozen states to promote the paper-back edition of her book A Woman Among Warlords. She was turned down for her visa application on the basis of “living underground” and being “unemployed.” Afghan activists who criticize their government are routinely forced to live underground due to the risks to their lives, and the vast majority of Afghan women are unemployed. Ms. Joya has come to the U.S. at least 4 times before since 2006. She was listed last November by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world, and this month by the Guardian newspaper as one of the top 100 women activists and campaigners in the world. Joya faces incredible security threats – she has survived at least 4 assassination attempts leading her to live underground.
The reasons for Ms. Joya’s exclusion is most likely politically based – her outspoken opposition to the U.S.-NATO war in Afghanistan now resonates with a majority of Americans and her 2011 tour would have potentially drawn the biggest audiences yet. The ACLU has called the increased phenomenon of denying visas to international activists and intellectuals, as “ideological exclusion.” On Friday March 19, nine U.S. representatives and Senators including Jim McDermott, John Kerry, and Bernie Sanders, wrote to the U.S. Embassy urging them to reconsider their decision. To date there has been no official response that we know of.
Currently Ms. Joya is at an undisclosed location. American officials have privately responded that she ought to apply at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and that she would likely be granted a visa from there. However, Ms. Joya faces grave risks to her life in Afghanistan and is unable to move freely and openly there – a fact that U.S. authorities seem ignorant of. Additionally when she was forced out of the Afghan parliament by U.S.-backed warlords in 2007, a ban on her travel from Afghanistan was issued, which is still in effect.
The United States should grant Malalai Joya a visa immediately from any U.S. Embassy.
It is an insult to her and all Afghan women that she has been excluded from attending her speaking events in the U.S. and it is a travesty that Americans are denied the right to hear directly from her about the Afghan war.
Click here to find out what else you can do to help Malalai Joya be allowed into the U.S.
Click here for our press release about Malalai Joya’s visa denial.