View Recorded Webcast “Surviving the Longest War”

Our event last Friday was a great success! The Skype connection with Afghanistan was impeccable, with excellent sound and video quality. Thanks to our friends at Keycode Media, we were able to stream the event live and capture a full recording, which we now present (after minor edits to clean up dead time and fix some graphics).

For those who missed our live webcast with Reena of RAWA, here it is:

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AWM Marks Tenth Anniversary of the Afghanistan War


On the 10th Anniversary of the U.S. war, an underground activist tells the real story of the Occupation & Afghan Resistance

Reena, a member of the Revolutionary Association of the women of Afghanistan (RAWA), will address American audiences via live video stream.

RSVP for the event on Facebook.

Download the flyer here.

AWM Co-Director and KPFK’s Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar will lead the conversation with Reena via video streaming in front of a live audience. The event will be webcast live on AWM’s website. Questions will be drawn from the in-person audience, and the online audience via Facebook.

WHEN: Friday Oct 7 2011 7pm PST / 10 PM EST
WHERE: Creveling Lounge (CC bld, 2nd floor) PCC campus, Pasadena California or @afghanwomensmission.org.

Open to the public. Entrance is free. There will be books and crafts available for sale.

If you are unable to attend this event, you can watch a live webcast of the entire event on this website! Click here to find out the time of the webcast in your city.

Organized in collaboration with PCC’s Students for Social Justice. KPFK is a media sponsor.

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Video Message from Malalai Joya on 10th Anniversary of US War

Former Afghan MP, Human Rights Activist and Author of “A Woman Among Warlords,” Malalai Joya, recorded this message on the Tenth Anniversary of the War and Occupation of Afghanistan:

Transcript of Joya’s message:

Hi everyone, I would like to thank all supporters and anti-war movements around the world who are marking the dark day of occupation of U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan.

Respected friends – 10 years ago the U.S. and NATO invaded my country under the fake banners of women’s rights, human rights, and democracy. But after a decade, Afghanistan still remains the most uncivil, most corrupt, and most war torn country in the world. The consequences of the so-called war on terror has only been more bloodshed, crimes, barbarism, human rights, and women’s rights violations, which has doubled the miseries and sorrows of our people.

During these bloody years, tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by occupation forces and terrorist groups. When Barack Obama took office in 2008, unfortunately his first news for my people was more conflict and more war. It was during Obama’s administration that civilian death tolls increased by 24%. And the result of the surge of troops of Obama’s administration is more massacres, more crimes, violence, destruction, pain, and tragedy. That’s why he has proved himself as a warmonger — as second even more dangerous Bush.

According to the Afghanistan Right Monitor in 2010, 7 civilians were killed everyday. U.S. and NATO tell us they will leave Afghanistan by the middle of 2014, but on another hand they’re talking about U.S. permanent military bases in Afghanistan. They will not leave our country soon. They are there for their own strategic regional and economic interests. That is why they want to change Afghanistan into a military and intelligence base in Asia.

The western governments not only betray Afghan people, they betray their own people too. They are wasting their taxpayer money in the blood of their soldiers by supporting a war, which only safeguard the interests of the big corporations and the Afghan criminal warlord rulers.

I think democracy never comes by military invasion. Democracy without independence and justice is meaningless. It is only the nation who can liberate themselves.

I believe that the only solution for the catastrophic situation of Afghanistan is withdrawal of ALL of the troops of our country because their presence is making much harder our struggle for justice and peace. By empowering the reactionary dark minded terrorist groups who are great obstacles for true democratic minded elements. If honestly they leave Afghanistan , the backbone of fundamentalist warlords in Taliban will break.

I hope one-day Afghanistan also will see the glorious uprising like in Middle East countries. As right now we are witnessing the small uprising in some provinces in Afghanistan like Herat, Kunar, Nangarhar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Farah, Kabul, and many other provinces which is a big source of hope for the bright future of Afghanistan.

So now I would like to ask all peace-loving, justice-seekers, anti-war movements and democratic-minded intellectuals, individuals around the world to join their hands with democratic-minded people of our country who are able to fight against fundamentalism and occupation. Therefore, my message to you is please empower my people educationally, as I believe education is a key against ignorance and toward emancipation.

Thank you very much.

Long live freedom. Down with Occupation.

Find out more about Joya at www.malalaijoya.com.

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Gareth Porter: Taliban Hijack the US’s Narrative

By GARETH PORTER
Inter Press Service

WASHINGTON – General David Petraeus wrote in his 2006 counter-insurgency manual that the United States command headquarters should establish a “narrative” for the counter-insurgency war – a simple storyline that provides a framework for understanding events, both for the population of the country in question and for international audiences.

But this week’s Taliban attacks on multiple targets in Kabul, including the US Embassy and US-North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters, are the latest and most spectacular of a long series of operations that have given the insurgents the upper hand in establishing the narrative of the war as perceived by the Afghan population.

Those attacks and other operations that generated headlines in 2010 have been aimed at convincing Afghans that the Taliban can strike any target in the country, because they have their own agents within the Afghan government’s military, police and administrative organs.

In the wake of the latest attacks, the Taliban war narrative achieved a new level of influence when a political opponent of President Hamid Karzai associated with a prominent Pashtun warlord charged that the Taliban could not have pulled off such a sophisticated set of coordinated attacks in the center of the capital without help from within the Afghan security apparatus.

The Taliban have mounted three high-profile attacks in Kabul over the past three months involving suicide bombers and commandos with rocket-propelled grenades.

In late June, six suicide bombers attacked the Intercontinental Hotel, the favorite spot in the capital for Westerners to hold conferences, which left the hotel in darkness for many hours.

And in August, the insurgents carried out a much more complex attack on the British Council, a semi-governmental agency involved in organizing cultural events. The attack involving a suicide bombing at a key intersection in western Kabul followed an attack on the police checkpoint guarding the British Council, and a suicide car bomb that destroyed the wall around the council and allowed the team of suicide attackers to enter the compound.
Attacks on the capital were supposed to have been made impossible by a “ring of steel” around the city. After the Taliban had carried out an attack in downtown Kabul in January 2010, the Afghan police, with funding and advice from the US military, set up a system of 25 security checkpoints around the capital that is guarded by 800 officers of the Kabul City Police Command battalion.

Nevertheless, the insurgents were able to smuggle weapons, including rocket-propelled grenade launchers, through the cordon and sustained an all-day attack on the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters.

For the first time, a prominent political figure in Kabul has charged that the attackers must indeed have had help from people within the Afghan government’s security apparatus.

Mohammed Naim Hamidzai Lalai, chairman of the parliament’s Internal Security Committee and a political ally of powerful Pashtun warlord Gul Agha Sherzai, charged that the “nature and scale of today’s attack” showed that the Taliban had gotten “assistance and guidance from some security officials within the government who are their sympathizers”, according to the New York Times.

“Otherwise it would be impossible for the planners and masterminds of the attack to stage such a sophisticated and complex attack, in this extremely well-guarded location without the complicity from insiders,” he said.

Central to the Taliban strategy has been a series of assassinations of top Afghan government figures that has demonstrated their ability to place their own agents within the most secure spots in the country.

In mid-April, a Taliban suicide bomber wearing a policeman’s uniform was able to penetrate security outside the Kandahar police headquarters and kill the provincial police chief.

On May 28, a Taliban suicide bomber who had been able to gain access to the governor’s compound in Takhar province detonated his suicide vest in the hallway outside a meeting room and killed the police chief for northern Afghanistan, General Mohammad Daud Daud.

In July, Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of President Karzai and the Mafia-style political boss of Kandahar province, was killed by the long-time head of his security detail, Sardar Mohammad. Mohammad had been trusted by US Special Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency, who had very close ties with Wali Karzai.

But Mahmoud Karzai, another brother of the president, told Julius Cavendish of The Independent of London a few days after the assassination that Mohammad had made a trip to Quetta in Pakistan and had met with the Taliban, and that he had been getting phone calls in the middle of the night. The Karzai family had concluded that Mohammad had been recruited by the Taliban to kill Wali Karzai, according to the brother.

Perhaps the most important element in building the Taliban narrative has been the constant drumbeat of attacks by Afghan soldiers and policemen on US and NATO troops. According to official NATO figures, between March 2009 and June 2011, at least 57 foreign troops, including 32 Americans, were killed in at least 19 such attacks.

United States military and intelligence officials reluctantly concluded that that most, if not all, of the attacks had been the result of recruitment by the Taliban intelligence service of Afghan security personnel to kill US and NATO troops, at obvious risk to themselves.

In June, the US decided to send an unknown number of counter-intelligence agents to tighten procedures for identifying troops who might be more likely to be recruited by the Taliban.

Adding to the Taliban war narrative was the carefully-planned breakout of nearly 500 prisoners from the security wing of Sarposa prison in Kandahar city after a few prisoners spent months digging a 300-meter tunnel. The breakout was possible only with the help of a Taliban underground agent or sympathizer who provided copies of keys to the cells, with which Taliban prisoners involved in the plan could unlock the cells of their fellow prisoners and so they could escape through the tunnel.

Two weeks later, the Taliban carried out a complex attack on key government targets in Kandahar city, including the governor’s office, the Afghan intelligence agency and the police station. The offensive in Kandahar involved seven explosions across the city, six of which were the result of suicide bombers.

The Taliban were able to strike freely in Kandahar despite what Canadian Brigadier-General Daniel Menard had called a “ring of stability” – a security cordon that supposed to keep Taliban fighters from getting into the city.

In February 2010, Menard, who was commander of Task Force Kandahar for the ISAF, had boasted that, with a total of nearly 6,000 US and Canadian troops deployed against Taliban forces in Kandahar province, “I can literally break their back.”

But the Taliban continued to operate freely in the city. As Peter Dmitrov, a former Canadian military officer who was working as a security consultant to non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan, observed last November to The Canadian Press, “The ring hasn’t really shut closed in any way, shape or form.”

The US war strategy has been based at least in part on convincing Afghans that the United States would remain in Afghanistan indefinitely, and that the Taliban would weaken. But the Taliban war narrative that it is able to penetrate the even the tightest security and cannot be defeated appears to have far more credibility with Afghans of all political stripes than the narrative put forward by US strategists.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006.

(Inter Press Service)

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US-Backed Fundamentalists in Afghan War No Different From 9/11 Perpetrators

AWM’s Sonali Kolhatkar Interviews a Member of RAWA

Ten years ago, when the terrorist attacks took place on September 11th, 2001, my colleagues and I in the Afghan Women’s Mission watched in shock and horror as thousands of innocent people lost their lives. We knew right away however, that retaliation would be aimed at Afghanistan and that all Afghans, including the women of the underground organization RAWA who we worked in solidarity with, would become targets of American bombs.

On September 14th, 2001, RAWA issued a statement entitled “The people of Afghanistan have nothing to do with Osama and his accomplices.” In it, they expressed their condolences, and warned that past U.S. policy had led to this day:

RAWA stands with the rest of the world in expressing our sorrow and condemnation for this barbaric act of violence and terror. RAWA had already warned that the United States should not support the most treacherous, most criminal, most anti-democracy and anti-women Islamic fundamentalist parties because after both the Jehadis and the Taliban have committed every possible type of heinous crimes against our people, they would feel no shame in committing such crimes against the American people whom they consider “infidel”. In order to gain and maintain their power, these barbaric criminals are ready to turn easily to any criminal force.

RAWA went on to urge the US against launching a war: “vast and indiscriminate military attacks on a country that has been facing …disasters for more than two decades will not be a matter of pride.”

On October 11th, four days after the bombs began dropping on Afghanistan, RAWA once more urged the US to do the right thing, predicting accurately the outcome of the war: “[t]he continuation of US attacks and the increase in the number of innocent civilian victims not only gives an excuse to the Taliban, but also will cause the empowering of the fundamentalist forces in the region and even in the world.”

A month later, when the Taliban were rapidly pushed out of Kabul, RAWA realized that the US was ready to replace the Taliban with their ideological brethren, the Northern Alliance (NA) warlords. They issued yet another international appeal, warning: “[t]he NA will horribly intensify the ethnic and religious conflicts and will never refrain to fan the fire of another brutal and endless civil war in order to retain in power.”

Sadly RAWA’s warnings were ignored and the last ten years have borne out their predictions. The Afghan war continues with no end in sight, and with an increasing empowered Taliban, corrupt central government dominated by members of the Northern Alliance, and ordinary people caught in the crossfire.

On this tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I interviewed a member of RAWA who goes by the name, Reena.

Sonali Kolhatkar: What was your reaction when you first heard about the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington ten years ago? Did you have any idea that within a month, the U.S. would begin attacking Afghanistan?

Reena: Well, the first reaction of course, was the whole world was shocked. We were also shocked and of course sad for the innocent people who were killed in the World Trade Center. But what the U.S. then did was a pretty natural reaction for us, as you know with the history of the U.S. we know that invading in other countries is their policy. But, what we were most scared of and what we braced ourselves for was that they would install the old criminals and enemies of the Afghan people, that is the Northern Alliance under a nice cover as a democratic government. This was something we predicted, and we also predicted much worse conditions as compared to those under the Taliban.

Sonali Kolhatkar: Would you say that the same forces, the same ideology that manifested itself in the U.S. on September 11, 2001, is affecting and oppressing women inside Afghanistan?

Reena: Well, yes, in a different way. You see, fundamentalism is global, and it is just under different brands in every place. But, what it does to women, what it does to people, what it does if it comes to power, is the same everywhere. So, fundamentalism under the name of Taliban, fundamentalism under the name of jihadis, or Northern Alliance, or let’s just say under the name of the Iranian government, or some other terrorist group in some other part of the world, does the same thing, if they come to power, if they are empowered the way the U.S. has empowered the warlords.

Sonali Kolhatkar: Many Americans didn’t know the history of U.S. support for fundamentalist forces in Afghanistan as well as for the many Arab fighters that came to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. Here in the United States, Americans were surprised about the consequences on 9/11, but in Afghanistan, it seemed as though most people weren’t surprised.

Reena: Yes, absolutely. You just need to look at the history, and unfortunately, these very important things don’t get mainstream media attention in the U.S. But if you just look at the recent history, you can very clearly see that America’s policy has always been to use the fundamentalists for its own interest, as it did thirty years ago with the Mujahideen, as it presently does with some terrorist groups, as it has always been doing. If you just read a good history book, it’s just plain. They’ve always helped the Mujahideen and the warlords, as long as it was for a bit of trust in overthrowing the Soviets, and then coming to power, and today allowing U.S. to have its bases, and military presence in everything, so it’s good as long as it’s in its interest. They will support anything, including such brutal fundamentalists.

Sonali Kolhatkar: Now, RAWA was for years speaking out through your website internationally and via other means, about the oppression of women by the Taliban. How did you respond when President Bush began, and his wife Laura Bush began using women’s rights as one of the reasons to launch the war in Afghanistan?

Reena: Well, using women’s rights seemed very ridiculous from the very start. We have always said that Bush, that America itself brought back to power, the Northern Alliance warlords. They are never going to be doing something beneficial for women. The conditions of women are worse, as we have seen now. But, it wasn’t ever going to help them. So, you know, it was very ridiculous that Mr. Bush and Laura Bush wanted to help the Afghan women and people. If they did, they wouldn’t have installed these criminals. They wouldn’t have given them so much power. There are many democratic groups in Afghanistan; maybe they could have, you know, negotiated with them, talked to them. From the very start, it seemed like the most ridiculous thing to do to bring such fundamentalists back to power and using women as an excuse to invade a country. But, they were not really helping them with such fundamentalists in power, as proven after ten years of the occupation, and of the rule of these warlords.

Sonali Kolhatkar: So, in the past nearly ten years now under the U.S. and NATO occupation – I know it’s a very big question to ask – how have women’s rights been set back over ten years, specifically regarding the laws that the Afghan Parliament has passed that have been very misogynist, and the way in which the U.S.-backed government’s judicial system has attacked women? Are things today, legally and politically speaking, worse for women than under the Taliban, or are they about just as bad?

Reena: Well, the laws that you just mentioned are not getting enough attention – that is one of the things that affects women badly. But basically in Afghanistan there is no legal system, there is no judiciary. There is nothing to protect women if they’re being abused, or they’re being hurt, or need help. So there is no proper legal system to prosecute people and bring them to justice. If there is a legal system, it is used in the interest of the warlords who are in power. For example, the Parliament is using their power to pass such laws. The judiciary will pass very controversial sentences which according to them are in accordance with Sha’aria law. There is no law, and if there is, it’s in the hands of these warlords who twist and turn them for their own benefit, according to their own misogynist mentality, and use it against women. So there is no protection or justice whatsoever for the bereaved women of Afghanistan.

Sonali Kolhatkar: Ten years after the September 11th attacks happened, there’s still a lot of ignorance about Afghanistan. Even though we have been fighting a war there longer than any other war in U.S. history, there’s still so much ignorance. What do you recommend for Americans to do about the war, and to better educate themselves?

Reena: People should consult RAWA’s website, www.rawa.org, well as our news section on that site, for daily updates on Afghanistan and the horrible things that happen to women over there. As for what American people can do, as we’ve always said, I think they should first of all call for the withdrawal of the troops, as the military presence has not helped Afghan people in any way. That has been proven in the past ten years. And, as I said before, there are truly democratic groups in Afghanistan that can actually help the Afghan people. But the U.S. military bases and troops are not required for this. These warlords have to be disarmed, have to be removed from power, and then maybe we can talk about a better Afghanistan and women’s rights.

Reena is a member of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Sonali Kolhatkar is the Co-Director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, and host of Uprising on KPFK Pacifica Radio.

This interview has been edited for clarity. The audio portion will be broadcast nationally on Sunday September 11th 2011 as part of Pacifica Radio’s 9/11 Anniversary Special. Special thanks to Sana Shuja for transcribing.

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Joya Successfully Wraps Up 2011 US Tour – A Reportback

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.

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Joya’s Southern California Tour – A Photo Report

On April 7-8, 2011, Malalai Joya, renowned Afghan activist, returned to Southern California on the occasion of the release of her book, A Woman Among Warlords, in paperback. Part of her national tour (read report here), Joya’s time in Southern California, where Afghan Women’s Mission is based, was packed with 4 geographically diverse events attended by hundreds of people.

California State University of Los Angeles – April 7, 2011


Joya addresses a crowd of more than 400.


Mostly students and faculty attended the event.


A slide show accompanied Joya’s presentation.


A view of the audience at CSULA in the University Student Union LA Room.


A book and poster signing followed the event.


A supporter hugs Joya.

Special thanks to Students for Social Justice at CSULA and Earth LA for organizing the event.

University of Southern California – April 7, 2011


A large audience gathered at Taper Hall of Humanities, Room 201.


Joya addresses the crowd.


Joya shares an image of one-time Taliban member turned Yale University student, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi.


USC student and AWM intern Chan Peter Kim thanks Joya for attending and offers a token of appreciation from his fellow student organizers and himself.


A book and poster signing follows the event.


Joya signs a copy of her book, A Woman Among Warlords.


Joya interacting with audience members after her presentation.


Joya with USC student and AWM intern Chan Peter Kim.


USC student and AWM intern Alia Delpassand helps Joya with translating questions during the event.


AWM volunteer and photographer Alice Chiu looks on as Joya signs books.

Special thanks to the USC Political Student Assembly for organizing the event.

University of California at Santa Barbara – April 8, 2011


People gather outside the Multicultural Center on the UC Santa Barbara campus where Joya spoke.


Copies of Joya’s book, A Woman Among Warlords, were available for sale.


Janet Afary of UCSB’s Department of Feminist Studies introduced Joya, with Nancy Gallagher of the UCSB History Department in the background. Both co-organized the event.


Joya addresses a packed audience hall.


Hundreds of Santa Barbarans attended the event including many high school students.


Uprising interns Natalie Reyes and Chan Peter Kim staffed the book and poster sales table.


Many audience members stayed for a vigorous question-and-answer session.


Joya shares her accompanying slide show.


Dozens of people wait in line to get their books and posters signed.


Joya chats with members of the audience.

Special thanks to the UCSB Multicultural Center and Mellichamp Fund – Department of Religious Studies for organizing the event.

Golden West College, Huntington Beach – April 8, 2011


Joya addresses hundreds of Orange County residents at Golden West College.


The event was attended by Golden West’s President, Wes Bryan.


Members of the media record the event.


Joya answers questions from the audience.


Audience members gather for a book and poster signing.


Joya signs a copy of her book A Woman Among Warlords.


Joya shakes hands with a supporter.


The team at Afghan Women’s Mission that organized all four events in Southern California, posing with Joya. From left to right: Natalie Reyes, Sonali Kolhatkar (AWM Director), Malalai Joya, Chan Peter Kim, Alia Delpassand, Alice Chiu.

All photographs taken by AWM volunteer, Alice Chiu.

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Spring 2011 U.S. Tour for Malalai Joya (NY, DC Events JUST ADDED!)

Malalai JoyaMalalai Joya, the acclaimed Afghan activist and author of A Woman Among Warlords with Derrick O’Keefe, will tour the United States this Spring to call attention to the on-going Afghan war and prospects for ending it. A Woman Among Warlords has just been published in paperback and will be on sale at all her events. Below is a preliminary schedule of her events- this page is being constantly updated. Click here to read an essay by AWM Co-Director Sonali Kolhatkar, announcing Malalai Joya’s national tour.

NOTE: Due to visa problems, Malalai Joya was unable to attend her scheduled appearances in New York and Washington DC. We are pleased to announce that her tour has just been extended to enable her to return to the East Coast. Click here for details.

MASSACHUSETTS

What: Malalai Joya and Noam Chomsky: The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan
When: Friday March 25 5:30 pm
Where: Memorial Church, 1 Harvard Yard, Cambridge
Co-sponsor: Haymarket Books, UJP Afghanistan/Pakistan Task Force, Massachusetts Peace Action, UNAC
For more info: Rsvp and invite friends on Facebook. Seating is first come, first served. Contact: sarah@haymarketbooks.org

What: Malalai Joya: Liberating Afghan Women
When: Saturday, March 26, 3-5 pm
Where: First Church in Jamaica Plain, 6 Eliot St, Jamaica Plain
Co-sponsors: Jamaica Plain Forum, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-Boston Branch
For more info: www.jamaicaplainforum.org or call Liz at 617-477-8630 x 301

What: On Ending the Occupation of Afghanistan
When: Monday March 28 at 4 pm
Where: 106 Thompson Hall, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Co-sponsors: Western Massachusetts American Friends Service Committee , Media Education Foundation, Peace and World Security Studies, American Friends
For more info: Call 413-584-8975 or email office@afscwm.org

What: On Ending the Occupation of Afghanistan
When: Monday March 28 at 7:30 pm
Where: Neilson Library Browsing Room, Smith College, Northampton MA
Co-sponsors: Smith College Anthropology Department, Smith College Global Studies Center, Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies (PAWSS), Alliance for Peace and Justice, Western Massachusetts.
For more info: Call 413-584-8975 or email office@afscwm.org

VERMONT

What: Malalai Joya and the Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan
When: Sunday March 27 at 5 pm
Where: Davis Student Center, University of Vermont Campus Burlington VT
Co-sponsors: International Socialist Organization, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Stop the F-35 Coalition.
For more info: Email jramey1979@gmail.com, 802-309-4824

NEW HAMPSHIRE

What: Afghanistan: Nearly Ten Years Into the US War
When: Tuesday March 29 at 6 pm
Where: University of NH, Memorial Union Building, 83 Main Street, Durham NH
Co-sponsors: Organization sponsoring the event: UNH Peace and Justice League & Seacoast Peace Response
For more info: Email freid.alex@gmail.com, or call 603-608-9859, or visit www.seacoastpeaceresponse.org.

PENNSYLVANIA

What: Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords
When: Wednesday March 30 from 4-6 pm with book signing at 3 pm
Where: Villanova University, 800 E. Lancaster Avenue Villanova, PA 19085 (Bartley 1011, is in a corner building across the street from free parking on the South side of Lancaster Pike.)
Co-sponsors: TBA
For more info: email Joe Betz at joseph.betz@villanova.edu, or call 610-519-4708.

What: Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords
When: Wednesday, March 30, 8:00-9:30pm
Where: Arch St Meeting House, 4th & Arch Sts., Philadelphia, PA
Co-sponsors: Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of Friends and the Arch St. Friends Meeting
For more info: Email Marge Van Cleef mvc@igc.org, or call 267-763-1644 or call Elisabeth at 215-382-1531

ILLINOIS

What: Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords
When: Thursday March 31 at 7 pm
Where: Chopin Theatre, 1543 West Division, Chicago, IL (Division/Ashland/Milwaukee, Division Blue Line, #70Division bus #9Ashland bus, #56Milwaukee bus)
Co-sponsors: Haymarket Books and TruthOut.org
For more info: sarah@haymarketbooks.org

MINNEAPOLIS

What: Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords
When: Friday April 1 at 7 pm
Where: St Joan of Arc Church, 4537 3rd Ave South, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Co-sponsors: Women Against Military Madness and the Twin Cities Peace Campaign.
For more info and tickets (@$10 each): contact TCPC at 612-522-1861 or 612-827-5364 or visit www.worldwidewamm.org

OREGON

What: “A Women Among Warlords”: An Afghan Woman Tells her Story
When: Sunday April 3 at 7 pm
Where: Willamette University, 900 State Street, Salem, OR 97301
Co-sponsors: Lilly Foundation
For more info: Email mduerkse@willamette.edu

WASHINGTON STATE

What: Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords – Bellingham
When: Monday April 4, 12-1:20 pm
Where: PAC Concert Hall, WWU, 516 High St, Bellingham
Co-Sponsors: Peace Action of WA, WWU/Fairhaven College World Issues Forum
For more info: Fred Miller, email: freefred@comcast.net, phone: 206 453-4471

What: Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords – Lynnwood
When: Monday April 4, 3:30-5:00 pm
Where: Black Box Theatre, Edmonds Community College, 20000 68th ave W, Lynnwood
Co-Sponsors: Peace Action of WA, Snohomish Co. Peace Action, Edmonds Community College
For more info: Fred Miller, email: freefred@comcast.net, phone: 206 453-4471

What: Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords – Seattle
When: Monday April 4, 7 pm
Where: Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard (at Seneca st.), Seattle WA
Co-sponsors: Sponsors: Peace Action of WA, Seattle First Baptist, Partners in Peacemaking, Seattle NOW
For more info: Fred Miller, email: freefred@comcast.net, phone: 206 453-4471

What: Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords – Tacoma
When: Tuesday, April 5, 7 pm
Where: William Phillip Hall, UW Tacoma campus
Co-sponsors: Peace Action of WA, UW/T MLK Jr. Institute for Social and Economic Justice
For more info: Fred Miller, email: freefred@comcast.net, phone: 206 453-4471

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

What: Ending the Afghan War: A Lecture by Malalai Joya
When: Thursday April 7, 1:30 – 3 pm
Where: Cal State Los Angeles campus, University Student Union LA room
Co-Sponsors: Students for Social Justice at CSULA, Earth LA, Afghan Women’s Mission, KPFK
For more info: email info@afghanwomensmission.org, call 626-676-7884.

What: Ending the Afghan War: A Lecture by Malalai Joya
When: Thursday April 7 at 7 pm
Where: University of Southern California Campus, Taper Hall of Humanities (THH) Rm 201
Co-Sponsors: Political Student Assembly, Afghan Women’s Mission, KPFK
For more info: email info@afghanwomensmission.org, call 626-676-7884.

What: Ending the Afghan War: A Lecture by Malalai Joya
When: Friday April 8 from 12 noon – 2 pm
Where: MCC Lounge, University of California Santa Barbara
Co-Sponsors: Multicultural Center, Mellichamp Fund – Department of Religious Studies, Afghan Women’s Mission, KPFK
For more info: Call 805 893 8411.

What: Ending the Afghan War: A Lecture by Malalai Joya
When: Friday April 8, Doors open 6 pm, event begins 7 pm
Where: Golden West College, Forum I, 15744 Golden West Street, at the intersection of Golden West Street and Edinger Avenue, in Huntington Beach, CA 92647. Exit at Golden West or Edinger from the 405 Freeway. Click here for a campus map. Forum I is in Building 12 in the south end of campus, and the closest parking lot is “D”.
Co-Sponsors: Peace Mind, and Body Club at GWC, Afghan Women’s Mission, KPFK
For more info: email info@afghanwomensmission.org, call 626-676-7884.

SAN FRANCISCO

What: Ending the Afghan War: With Malalai Joya
When: Saturday April 9 from 7-9 pm, 6-7, reception/light refreshments
Where: Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, on the corner of 15th St and Julian (between Mission and Valencia), San Francisco (by the 16th St BART).
Co-Sponsors: Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF/SF)
For more info: Email sfjoya@gmail.com

What: Rally Against the Wars at Home and Abroad
When: Sunday April 10, 11 am onwards
Where: Assemble at Dolores Park in San Francisco at 11 am, rally at 12 noon, march at 1:30 pm.
Co-Sponsors: United National Anti-war Committee (UNAC) and hundreds of social justice organizations
For more info: Visit www.unacpeace.org, email unacnortherncalifornia@gmail.com, or call 415-49-NO-WAR

What: An Evening with Malalai Joya
When: Monday April 11, 5 to 6:30 pm
Where: University of San Francisco, Fromm, Maraschi Room – download flyer here.
Co-Sponsors: Department of Politics, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Leo T McCarthy Center for Public Service, Middle Eastern Law Students Association, Middle Eastern Studies Department, Student Bar Association, Women’s Law Association, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
For more info:call (415) 422-5820

WASHINGTON DC – JUST ADDED!

What: Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords
When: Wednesday April 13, 4:40 to 6 pm
Where: Daugherty-Palmer Commons, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s City, MD 20686
Co-Sponsors: Political Science Department; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program.
For more info: Contact Prof. Sahar Shafqat, sshafqat@smcm.edu, 240-895-4910

NEW YORK – JUST ADDED!

What: An evening with Malalai Joya featuring Eve Ensler: Women Facing War in Afghanistan, and the Need for U.S. Solidarity
When: Friday, April 15, 7 to 9 pm
Where: CUNY Graduate Center, Recital Hall, 365 Fifth Ave at 34th Street [BDFV & NQRW trains to 34th St, 6 train to 33]
Co-Sponsors: South Asian Solidarity Initiative, War Resisters League, V Day, and the Center for Place, Culture and Politics
For more info: RSVP on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/malalai or contact prachi@southasianinitiative.org.

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Outrage at threat to secret shelters where women hide from death

woman in Afghan shelter
A child bride, forced to marry at 11, fled and took refuge in one of the shelters. (Photo: Getty)

By Jerome Starkey
in Kabul
The Scotsman

Secret shelters which protect women from murder, forced marriages and ritual mutilation will be turned into “virtual prisons” that make women less safe, under Afghan government plans to wrest control of them from local charities, women’s activists warned yesterday.
The exact whereabouts of the safe houses and the identities of the women who hide there are carefully guarded secrets, but proposals seen by The Scotsman would put government staff in charge and force them to inform police of anyone who goes inside.

Campaigners said the draft legislation was pandering to conservative male prejudices that shelters harbour prostitutes, and they warned it would roll back years of hard-won progress towards improving women’s rights.

“We are outraged by this bill, which is a patent effort of the Afghan government to stop the work of non-governmental organisations on behalf of women’s rights,” said Manizha Naderi, executive director of Women for Afghan Women (WAW). “Clients who have suffered heinous abuses, whose lives are in danger, or who have nowhere else to go live in WAW’s secret shelters while counsellors and lawyers help them find justice.”

Ms Naderi’s network sheltered Bibi Aisha, a former child bride whose husband sliced off her nose and ears after she fled their home to escape horrific beatings. The teenager ran to her father’s house but he handed her straight back to the men who disfigured her. Aisha, now 20, is in America getting counselling ahead of reconstructive surgery.

Ms Naderi also claimed that Sediqa, a young woman whose gruesome stoning was filmed on a mobile phone, would still be alive if she had had access to a shelter.

Afghan women's shelter (NYT Photo)
Afghan women in a shelter in Kabul. (Photo: Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)

There are only 14 shelters serving Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and activists urged the government to open more, if it wanted a stake in how they are run, rather than trying to interfere with the few already open.

The new legislation, which appears to undermine President Hamid Karzai’s public commitment to improving women’s rights, follows unfounded allegations from senior government officials that the shelters were fronts for brothels. It is being drawn up by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

Afghanistan’s deputy justice minister, Dr Qasim Hashimzai, said a government investigation found no evidence of prostitution, but he said some shelters had “discipline problems”. He insisted women had “nothing to fear” from the new law which prescribes strict conditions for who can be admitted and rules for how and when they can be released.

Wazhma Frogh, a prominent women’s activist in Kabul, accused the government of succumbing to conservatives.”It will turn the women’s shelters into a kind of women’s prisons,” she said. “At least, now, when women escape violence, there are some options for them. Anybody who is at risk, we help them.”

However, Enayatullah Balegh, a senior member of Kabul’s influential council of religious scholars, said: “These houses are not safe for Afghan women, according to Islam,” he said. “They are not shelters. A shelter or a safe house for a woman is the family home.”

Although shelters are often run by local charities, they are mostly funded by international donors, including the USAID, the EU and the United Nations.

Sediq Muslim, the head of the Fatwa Department at Afghanistan’s Supreme Court, who was part of the team charged with investigating shelters, claimed it was inevitable that women in shelters would turn to prostitution.

“Of course, if a shelter is working under control of foreigners, without the police or (the intelligence service] or the government’s knowledge, then the women will be prostitutes. They do bad things inside,” he said.

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West’s portrayal of Afghan war deceptive: group

By Jonathon Burch
Reuters Canada

Download the ANSO report


KABUL (Reuters) – Foreign military assertions that security in Afghanistan is improving are intended to sway Western public opinion ahead of a troop withdrawal and do not reflect the reality on the ground, a security advice group said.

“Indisputable evidence” that conditions are deteriorating included a two-thirds rise in insurgent attacks in 2010 compared with the previous year, according to the EU-funded organization, that advises aid groups on safety.

In one northern province raids more than tripled, the group said in a report.

A war review by U.S. President Barack Obama last month said “notable operational gains” had been made and the Taliban’s momentum arrested in much of the country and reversed in some areas, but gains were fragile and reversible.

Those findings have been echoed by military commanders on the ground. On Wednesday, General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO-led forces, delivered an upbeat assessment of 2010 in a message to foreign troops and civilians.

“Throughout the past year, you and our Afghan partners worked together to halt a downward security spiral in much of the country and to reverse it in some areas of great importance,” Petraeus said in the message.

The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO), which advises non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on security, said positive “strategic communication” messages were only aimed at preparing the way for troop withdrawals scheduled to start this year.

“No matter how authoritative the source of any such claim, messages of this nature are solely intended to influence American and European public opinion ahead of the withdrawal,” the group said in its quarterly report, designed to help aid groups make decisions involving security.

“(The messages) are not intended to offer an accurate portrayal of the situation for those who live and work here,” the group said. The report is not released to media but Reuters obtained a copy. (Click here for a copy of the ANSO report.)


“THIRTY-THREE ATTACKS A DAY”

Obama has pledged to begin gradually withdrawing U.S. troops in July, as Afghan forces slowly take control over security.

This is part of a wider plan by President Hamid Karzai for Afghans to take the lead in securing the whole country by the end of 2014, an ambitious goal endorsed by Western leaders, who are under domestic pressure to bring forces home.

ANSO found militant attacks were up 64 percent last year compared with 2009, and an average of 33 incidents had taken place every day. While violence may have decreased in some areas, it had dramatically increased in others, the group added.

“If losses are taken in one area they are simply compensated for in another as has been the dynamic since this conflict started,” ANSO said.

Casualty numbers on all sides are at record levels. A total of 711 foreign troops were killed in 2010, by far the bloodiest year of the war and up from 521 in 2009.

But ordinary Afghans bear the brunt. According to U.N. figures, 2,412 civilians were killed and 3,803 were wounded in the first 10 months of last year, up 20 percent on 2009.

The insurgency has also been rapidly spreading out of traditional strongholds in the south and east of the country and into previously peaceful areas in the north and west.

Militant attacks in six northern provinces increased faster than the average for all of Afghanistan, more than doubling in five and tripling in Sar-e-Pol, ANSO said.

In the south, where foreign and Afghan forces have stepped up offensives over the last year, the increase in insurgent attacks suggested the capacity for militants to conduct raids had “improved substantially.”

Helmand province saw a 124 percent increase while attacks rose by 20 percent in Kandahar, it said.

Although there had been a decline in attacks from August onwards, this most likely reflected seasonal factors consistent with previous years, ANSO said, and attacks in December 2010 were 47 percent higher than in December the previous year.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

© Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved.

Download the ANSO report

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