Although initially denied a travel visa from the US government, Malalai Joya, with the help of her supporters, successfully petitioned the United States for a visa and wrapped up a successful book tour in the US in early 2011.
Citing she was “unemployed” and “lives underground,” the US embassy refused to allow Joya into the country. Joya’s supporters responded in full force. On March 23, they staged a national call-in day to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, organized a petition garnering over 3,000 signatures, and executed a nationwide campaign involving Senators and Congressmen. On March 24, the US granted Joya a visa.
Although Joya was forced to miss her events in New York and Washington DC, they were rescheduled to the end of her tour where the public had the opportunity to hear her speak.
On March 25, Joya began her tour at Harvard University’s Memorial Church in Cambridge, MA, speaking alongside world renowned Professor Noam Chomsky.
Due to last minute schedule changes caused by her visa denial, Joya arrived only three hours before the event. Nevertheless, she was able to speak at the event and draw a crowd of over 1,200 people. Watch a video recording of the entire event on YouTube here. Click here here to read a report of the event.
Joya continued her tour at the First Church in Jamaica Plain, MA on March 26. More than 250 people attended, and Joya received a standing ovation at the end of her speech. Read a Boston Globe report about her Massachusetts events here.
The next day, Joya spoke at the University of Vermont in Burlington on March 27 to over 200 people, many of them students. She went on to attend a women’s legislative breakfast, meeting with several state lawmakers from Vermont.
On March 28, Joya spoke at the University of Massachusetts and Smith College in Massachusetts. Crowds for both events totaled over 400 including hundreds of students, and they expressed a very favorable response to Joya’s message.
Joya spoke at the University of New Hampshire on March 29 to a crowd of 250. Her books sold out at the event, and many people signed the Peace Action petitions circulated there.
On March 30, Joya continued her tour at Villanova University and Arch Street Meeting House in Philadelphia, PA. Over 100 people attended her event at Arch Street to hear her speak and participate in a question and answer session.
Joya traveled to Chopin Theater in Chicago, Illinois on March 31 and was met with a packed theater. After the event, she was interviewed by the National Public Radio (NPR).
On April 1, Joya visited Minneapolis, Minnesota to speak at St. Joan of Arc Church. Click here here for additional coverage.
On April 3, Joya continued her book tour at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon where she was well-received. At the end of her speech, the audience gave her a minutes-long standing ovation. Click here here for a report on the event.
On April 4, Joya visited Washington State to speak at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, and Seattle First Baptist Church. The event at Seattle First Baptist Church drew a crowd of 600. Approximately 50 new potential donors and members were identified at the Washington State events. Local Afghans attended the events as well.
Joya spoke at the University of Washington-Tacoma on April 5. She addressed the Afghan people’s struggles amidst the occupation and an increase of civilian casualties under President Obama. Click here here for more details.
On April 6, Joya lectured at the Central Washington University in Ellensburg. Over 400 people attended the event, filling the capacity of the theater it was held in.
Joya continued her book tour in Southern California where Afghan Women’s Mission is based. She began at California State University, Los Angeles at an event attracting more than 400 students, faculty, and members of the public. Afterwards, she spoke at the University of Southern California with more than 300 people in attendance.
The next day on April 8, Joya spoke at UC Santa Barbara and Golden West College. The UC Santa Barbara event was packed with more than 200 people in attendance and some even sitting in the aisles. Joya received a standing ovation at the end of that event followed by a crowded booksigning. At Golden West College, more than 350 people attended, including the President of the college, and she received another standing ovation.
Click here to view AWM’s photo report of all Southern California event.
Joya then took her tour up north to San Francisco, CA from April 9-11. She spoke at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist on April 9 and was accompanied by the music of singer and songwriter Kaylah Marin. On April 10, Joya attended and spoke at an antiwar rally held at Dolores Park. Click here here for video footage. On April 11, Joya spoke at the University of San Francisco.
Another speaking event was held at the St. Mary’s College of Maryland on April 13. Despite rescheduling and short notice, more than 100 people attended the event including many students.
For her last stop, Joya joined playwright and activist Eve Ensler at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York for a dialogue on the experience of Afghan civilians, particularly women, in face of the war and how the US can support their struggles. The audience was very supportive of Joya and gave her several standing ovations throughout the night. While in New York, she also met with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, participated in a community gathering of various organizations, and had press interviews.
This report was authored by Chan Peter Kim, USC intern for AWM.