Tenth Anniversary of Afghanistan War: RAWA Member Available for Interviews

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sana Shuja: 504-669-4446
Sonali Kolhatkar: 626-676-7884 

E-mail: press[at]afghanwomensmission[dot]org

Surviving the Longest War: An International Video Webcast
On the Tenth Anniversary of the US war, an underground activist
tells the real story of the Occupation and Afghan Resistance

October 7th 2011, marks the ten year anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan. To mark this event, Afghan Women’s Mission (AWM), a U.S.-based non-profit that works in solidarity with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) will hold a special international online talk-back with Reena, a member of RAWA.

“Ten years of war has not made Afghanistan safer for anybody except the fundamentalist warlords in the Afghan government, and the Taliban,” said Reena. This anniversary event, in collaboration with PCC’s Students for Social Justice, will raise serious questions about the official story of the longest war the U.S. has ever officially waged, and will offer the unique perspective of an underground Afghan activist who has witnessed first-hand the impact of the war.

AWM Co-Director and KPFK’s Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar will lead the conversation with Reena via live video streaming from the Pakistan/Afghanistan region, in front of a live audience. The event will be webcast live on AWM’s website at www.afghanwomensmission.org .

“Using the latest technology available, we are thrilled to be able to broadcast the voice of this young RAWA member – an Afghan speaking for her generation – well beyond the confines of our physical event,” said Kolhatkar. “We invite people from all over the world to mark the tenth anniversary of this war by tuning into our live web video stream of our conversation with Reena.”

Questions for RAWA member Reena will be drawn from the live in-person audience and the online audience via Facebook. The event will take place on Friday October 7th at 7pm PST (10 pm EST) at Creveling Lounge (CC Building, 2nd floor) on the campus of Pasadena City College (PCC).

Nineteen year old Reena was born an Afghan refugee in Pakistan around the time when US-backed fundamentalist fighters started a brutal civil war in Afghanistan. She lived with her family in the border town of Peshawar in severe and impoverished conditions. After moving to a refugee camp run by RAWA, Reena attended one of their literacy courses. She eventually joined the organization, working in various RAWA-run schools and orphanages and is currently a first-year University student. Since Reena was born, she has known only war in her country.

Read Sonali Kolhatkar’s September 11th, 2011 interview with Reena here.

RAWA is on the forefront of the movement for peace in Afghanistan. Their activities focus on women’s rights, human rights, and exposing the fundamentalist crimes of warlords in power, as well as the Taliban. They have criticized all foreign intervention since the time of the Soviet invasion and occupation through to today’s US/NATO war. As the oldest women’s political organization in Afghanistan, RAWA has been promoting human rights and democracy for more than 30 years. Their work is extremely dangerous – all RAWA members, including Reena, use pseudonyms, do not reveal their faces, and live and work underground.

RAWA Predicted the Failure of the War Ten Years Ago

On September 14th 2001 RAWA issued a statement warning the US against waging war on Afghanistan, saying “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 2001, 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 in a statement: “[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 after the war began, 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 Human Impact of a Decade of War

Civilian casualties as a result of the ten year long Afghanistan war have been estimated at 17, 611 – 37, 208, with more than half killed directly as a result of U.S.-led military actions (Sources: UN Assistance Mission Afghanistan, Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch, and Associated Press). A recent report by Open Society Foundation found that night raids conducted regularly by US and NATO forces in Afghan villages result in indiscriminate detentions and widespread abuse.

Politically things aren’t much better. Afghanistan’s government, dominated by the US-backed NA warlords whom RAWA warned against, is ranked the second most corrupt in the world after Somalia (Transparency International). Through the Afghan parliament, warlords have passed laws exempting themselves from prosecution for war crimes, curtailing press freedoms, and promoting women’s abuse.

Women in particular continue to suffer. A survey by UNIFEM in January 2011 revealed that a shocking 87% of Afghan women are victims of domestic violence. A UK based charity, Womankind, found that “between 60 and 80 percent of Afghan marriages are forced, with more than half of all girls married before age 16.” While women can run for office in the Afghan parliament, they are only allowed to serve if they accept the status quo. The well-known and popular activist, Malalai Joya, a representative of Farah province, was kicked out of Parliament for criticizing the US-backed warlords and has survived numerous assassination attempts.

According to RAWA member Reena, the first thing that needs to happen is for Americans to “call for the withdrawal of the troops, as the military presence has not helped Afghan people in any way.” Her opinion is supported by a majority of Americans: a Washington Post-ABC News poll in March showed that 64% of poll participants somewhat or strongly felt that the war has not been worth fighting.

RAWA member Reena is available for a limited number of interviews.

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U.S. Responds to Broad Public Campaign, Grants Malalai Joya Visa!

For Immediate Release

A U.S. Embassy today granted acclaimed Afghan human rights activist and former MP Malalai Joya, a visa, a little over a week after she was initially turned down. The outspoken critic of the war in Afghanistan was informed at her initial visa interview that because she “lived underground” and was “unemployed” she would not be allowed into the U.S. for an extensive speaking tour, even though she had been granted visas 4 times over the past several years. Due to the visa denial, Joya has already missed all her events in New York and Washington DC and is now on her way to Boston to attempt to finish up the rest of her tour.

Afghan Women’s Mission’s Co-Director Sonali Kolhatkar responded to the news saying, “We are ecstatic and gratified that the government finally did the right thing and allowed Malalai Joya into the country so that Americans could hear what she has to say about the reality of the war, and particularly how Afghan women are faring under the occupation.” Kolhatkar added, “It is a testament to the nationwide campaign that was launched by our national coalition of organizations and individuals who worked very hard to put the events together and to bring her to the U.S.”

The co-writer of Ms. Joya’s book, A Woman Among Warlords, Derrick O’Keefe, was optimistic that the visa hold-up would boost audiences for her speaking tour. “This is a victory for free speech, and I’m confident that over the next couple of weeks thousands will welcome Malalai Joya into their communities — Americans need to hear in-person what she has to say about the U.S.-NATO war,” said O’Keefe.

The campaign to pressure authorities to grant Ms. Joya the visa was a multi-pronged one. Within days of her initial visa refusal, organizers in many states lobbied their representatives in Congress to send a letter to the U.S. Embassy urging them to grant her a visa. Washington Congressman Jim McDermott took the lead on signing the letter. Representatives Jay Inslee, Keith Ellison, Peter Welch, Betty McCollum, Bill Pascrell, and Senators John Kerry, Bernie Sanders, and Patty Murray co-signed the letter.

Following that an online petition was set up, which has been signed by over 3000 people to date, including well known activists and intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, Eve Ensler, and many others. And, on Wednesday March 23rd, a national call-in day was announced, calling on Americans to flood the State Department with phone calls urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to grant Joya a visa.

While Ms. Joya was forced to physically miss all her events in New York and Washington DC, she managed to make a presence via live video chat or recorded video talks. She now heads to Boston to pick up the remainder of her tour. From Massachusetts she heads to Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Minneapolis, Oregon, Washington, and California. Click here for a full schedule of events.

The nationwide speaking tour coincides with the paperback edition of Malalai Joya’s book, A Woman Among Warlords (Scribner). Copies of her books will available for sale at her speaking events.

Malalai Joya is available for a limited number of interviews during her tour. Contact Sonali Kolhatkar (626-676-7884) or Natalie Reyes (562 319-3046) or email press@afghanwomensmission.org.

* * *

Praise for Malalai Joya and A Woman Among Warlords:

‘The youngest and most famous of all the women in the Afghan parliament…a powerful symbol of change’
– Guardian

‘A courageous female MP’
– The Times

‘… one of the few symbols of hope for Afghanistan’s future.’
– New Statesman

‘Quite simply the most passionate and devastating critique of Western intervention in Afghanistan I have ever read.’
– Peace News

‘[Has] spoken her mind as few Afghan women dare to do’
– New York Times

‘Malalai Joya leaves us with hope that the tormented people of Afghanistan can take their fate into their own hands if they are released from the grip of foreign powers.’
– Noam Chomsky

‘Unwavering in her mission to bring true democracy to her country…Women have been known to walk for miles just to touch her. For them, she is their only real hope for a better future’
– Telegraph

‘Joya is a model for women everywhere seeking to make the world more just.’
– Six women Nobel Peace Prize laureates

‘Joya’s pain and bravery are genuine and can be felt on almost every page’
– Christina Lamb, Sunday Times

‘A fascinating account of Afghanistan’s political reality…Malalai Joya has been compared to Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi’
– Irish Times

‘Malalai Joya is a staunch defender of human rights and a powerful voice for Afghan women.’
– Human Rights Watch

‘Heroic’
– John Pilger

‘Extraordinary’
– The Independent

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US government denies entry visa to Afghan women’s rights activist and author Malalai Joya

For Immediate Release —

The United States has denied a travel visa to Malalai Joya, an acclaimed women’s rights activist and former member of Afghanistan’s parliament. Ms. Joya, who was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2010, was set to begin a three-week US tour to promote an updated edition of her memoir, A Woman Among Warlords, published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Joya’s publisher at Scribner, Alexis Gargagliano, said, “We had the privilege to publish Ms. Joya, and her earlier 2009 book tour met with wide acclaim. The right of authors to travel and promote their work is central to freedom of expression and the full exchange of ideas.” Joya’s memoir has been translated into over a dozen languages, and she has toured widely including Australia, the UK, Canada, Norway, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, and the Netherlands in support of the book over the past two years.

Colleagues of Ms. Joya’s report that when she presented herself as scheduled at the U.S. embassy, she was told she was being denied because she was “unemployed” and “lives underground.” Then 27, Joya was the youngest woman elected to Afghanistan’s parliament in 2005. Because of her harsh criticism of warlords and fundamentalists in Afghanistan, she has been the target of at least five assassination attempts. “The reason Joya lives underground is because she faces the constant threat of death for having had the courage to speak up for women’s rights – it’s obscene that the U.S. government would deny her entry,” said Sonali Kolhatkar of the Afghan Women’s Mission, a U.S. based organization that has hosted Joya for speaking tours in the past and is a sponsor of this year’s national tour.

Joya has also become an internationally known critic of the US-NATO war in Afghanistan. Organizers argue that the denial of Joya’s visa appears to be a case of what the American Civil Liberties Union describes as “Ideological Exclusion,” which they say violates Americans’ First Amendment right to hear constitutionally protected speech by denying foreign scholars, artists, politicians and others entry to the United States.

Events featuring Malalai Joya are planned, from March 20 until April 10, in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and California. Organizers of her speaking tour are encouraging people to contact the Department of State to ask them to fulfill the promise from the Obama Administration of “promoting the global marketplace of ideas” and grant Joya’s visa immediately.

Malalai Joya is available for a limited number of interviews. Contact Sonali Kolhatkar (626-676-7884), Prachi Patankar (917-415-0659), or Natalie Reyes (562) 319-3046).

* * *

Praise for Malalai Joya and A Woman Among Warlords:

‘The youngest and most famous of all the women in the Afghan parliament…a powerful symbol of change’
– Guardian

‘A courageous female MP’
– The Times

‘… one of the few symbols of hope for Afghanistan’s future.’
– New Statesman

‘Quite simply the most passionate and devastating critique of Western intervention in Afghanistan I have ever read.’
– Peace News

‘[Has] spoken her mind as few Afghan women dare to do’
– New York Times

‘Malalai Joya leaves us with hope that the tormented people of Afghanistan can take their fate into their own hands if they are released from the grip of foreign powers.’
– Noam Chomsky

‘Unwavering in her mission to bring true democracy to her country…Women have been known to walk for miles just to touch her. For them, she is their only real hope for a better future’
– Telegraph

‘Joya is a model for women everywhere seeking to make the world more just.’
– Six women Nobel Peace Prize laureates

‘Joya’s pain and bravery are genuine and can be felt on almost every page’
– Christina Lamb, Sunday Times

‘A fascinating account of Afghanistan’s political reality…Malalai Joya has been compared to Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi’
– Irish Times

‘Malalai Joya is a staunch defender of human rights and a powerful voice for Afghan women.’
– Human Rights Watch

‘Heroic’
– John Pilger

‘Extraordinary’
– The Independent

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Leading Afghan Feminist Urges Immediate end to U.S. War

March 9, 2011
To schedule an interview with Malalai Joya, email press@afghanwomensmission.org or call (562) 319-3046 or (626) 676-7884

Coinciding with the paperback release of her book A Woman Among Warlords, famed Afghan feminist Malalai Joya will travel across the United States this Spring for an extensive speaking tour.

Her message: End the U.S./NATO occupation of Afghanistan immediately.

Malalai Joya is Afghanistan’s most outspoken activist and has been called “the bravest and most famous woman in Afghanistan.” In 2010, Joya was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine and was named as one of the Guardian Newspaper’s top 100 activists and campaigners this March. She has received many other international awards and recognitions for her efforts for human rights, justice and democracy in Afghanistan.
Joya, now 32, was the youngest ever woman elected to the Afghan Parliament in 2005 and is an outspoken critic of the Karzai government and US/NATO occupation. According to Joya, “the truth about Afghanistan has been hidden behind a smoke screen of words and images carefully crafted by the United States and its NATO allies and repeated without question by the Western media.”

Joya is right: the Western media has all but ignored the March 1st U.S. bombing of Kunar province in Afghanistan which killed nine children, ages 9 to 15 years of age. The sad truth is the Afghan women and children have been the biggest casualties of this war, while U.S. and NATO actions have only resulted in a stronger Taliban, and corrupt and criminal central government.

Malalai Joya will share the harsh reality of the Afghan war with Americans during her nationwide tour. Her trip comes ahead of a major push by U.S. antiwar activists to organize bi-coastal events protesting the Afghanistan war on April 9th and 10th 2011.

Starting in mid-March, Joya will begin her tour in New York where she will address the closing plenary of the annual Left Forum. From there, she heads to Washington D.C., Massachusetts (including a joint appearance with Noam Chomsky), Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Philadelphia, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington state, and California. Joya’s tour will culminate with her participation in San Francisco’s April 10th Antiwar Demonstration.

Details of Malalai Joya’s Spring 2011 tour are online here.

NOTE: Malalai Joya will be available for a limited number of interviews between March 19 – April 11, 2011. Email press@afghanwomensmission.org to schedule an interview.

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

The Afghan Women’s Mission is an all-volunteer organization that works toward providing health care, education, and overall empowerment of Afghan women and children, while simultaneously promoting awareness of women’s and human rights in Afghanistan

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A Woman Among Warlords – Malalai Joya Available for Interviews

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Voice: 626-676-7884
E-mail: info_at_afghanwomensmission.org

Malalai Joya, the young woman who the BBC has hailed as the “bravest in Afghanistan,” has published her memoirs, A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Woman Who Dared to Speak Out.

Joya, now 31, was the youngest ever woman elected to the Afghan Parliament in 2005 and is an outspoken critic of the Karzai government and NATO occupation. She will be touring North America between Oct. 23 and Nov. 27 to speak about her new memoir, co-written with Canadian activist and writer Derrick O’Keefe.

With U.S. President Obama considering escalating the war in Afghanistan with over 40,000 more troops Joya’s speaking tour and book release is timely. “Afghan women like me, voting and running for office, have been held up as proof that the United States has brought democracy and women’s rights to Afghanistan,” Joya writes. “But it is all a lie.”

Her book tells the story of her life in the context of three decades of war. Joya details her reasons for opposing NATO’s war and suggests concrete steps for building an independent and genuinely democratic Afghanistan.

Malalai Joya, often compared to Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, has emerged as a symbol of Afghans” desire for freedom from corruption, warlordism and foreign occupation. Her father, who lost a leg fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, named her after a 19th century hero in the fight against the British Empire, Malalai of Maiwand.

Today, Joya brings to a North American audience the lessons of Afghanistan’s long history of occupation and resistance. And she hopes her book will “correct the tremendous amount of misinformation being spread about Afghanistan.”

“Afghans are sometimes represented in the media as a backward people, nothing more than terrorists, criminals and henchmen. This false image is extremely dangerous for the future of both my country and the West. The truth is that Afghans are brave and freedom loving people with a rich culture and a proud history. We are capable of defending our independence, governing ourselves and determining our own future.”

Malalai Joya will be traveling through the US for a brief book tour at the following cities: New York, Boston, Cambridge, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Irvine, Berkeley, San Jose, Seattle, and Bellingham.

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Afghan Women’s Rights Activist Calls for an End to US Occupation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Voice: 626-676-7884
E-mail: info_at_afghanwomensmission.org

Los Angeles–President Obama’s anticipated deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan is being justified in part by the Taliban threat to Afghan women. To mark the 8th anniversary of the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, a member of a prominent Afghan women’s rights group will tour the United States this month, with a different message to Obama and Congress: liberation can only come from within — end the US occupation.

Twenty eight year old Zoya is a member of the intrepid grassroots organization, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), which for more than 30 years has been on the forefront of women’s rights and national emancipation in Afghanistan. Zoya will address Americans throughout the month of October 2009, traveling to major events in New York, Iowa, Washington DC, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

For most Afghan women like Zoya, the past eight years of US occupation have legitimized criminal warlords and a corrupt government, resulted in thousands of bombing deaths of civilians, and consequently strengthened the Taliban. While women gained some rights on paper in the nation’s new constitution, in practice more women are being imprisoned, committing suicide, suffering rapes, and other abuses than ever before. This summer’s embarrassingly fraudulent presidential election was seen by a vast majority of Afghans as a debacle of democracy. Education, employment and health indicators all point to a nation whose women are possibly worse off than under Taliban rule.

According to Zoya, “The message of RAWA to freedom-loving people is to support the democratic organizations of Afghanistan. Freedom, democracy and justice cannot be enforced at gunpoint by a foreign country; they are the values that can be achieved only by our people and democracy-loving forces through a hard, decisive and long struggle.”

After their founder Meena was assassinated in 1987, RAWA moved their activities underground to carry out their life-risking work of educating, training, and politically organizing Afghan women. Today, they are forced to continue to work underground despite the pronouncements of women’s freedom. Members routinely use assumed names, avoid cameras, and change residences. Zoya’s events in the US will require a strict, no-cameras policy.

ABOUT ZOYA:
Like many RAWA members, Zoya has witnessed and endured more tragedy and terror than most people do in a lifetime. She grew up during the wars that ravaged Afghanistan and at the age of fourteen, was robbed of her mother and father when they were murdered by fundamentalist warlords. Devastated by so much death and destruction, she fled Kabul with her grandmother and started a new life in exile in Pakistan. After attending a school funded by RAWA, she joined the underground women’s organization and continues their work resisting fundamentalism and war today. Zoya has traveled the world over speaking about her experiences and the work of RAWA.

COMMEMORATIVE POSTER:To commemorate Zoya’s 2009 national tour, acclaimed Bay area-based artist Doug Minkler, has created a poster that will be available for download and sale. Minkler says, “The invitation to help RAWA publicize Zoya’s US tour is a great honor. I am inspired by RAWA’s courage, community projects and principled pro-democracy positions and it is my hope that my colorful depiction of the mythical phoenix opposing the gray US death drones and destruction will similarly inspire the viewer to find out more about the work of RAWA. I take great pride in standing with RAWA and hope that if I was in their shoes, I would exhibit the same strength.” More information can be found at the artist’s website at www.dminkler.com. If you are a member of the media and would like to schedule an interview with Zoya, please call 626-676-7884. Or email info at afghanwomensmission.org. Please note, interviews can only be scheduled after October 3rd when Zoya is in the US.

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Afghanistan Like a Ticking Bomb, says Women’s Rights Activist on 5th Anniversary of US Bombing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Voice: 626-676-7884
E-mail: info_at_afghanwomensmission.org

“AFGHANISTAN LIKE A TICKING BOMB,” SAYS WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST ON 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF US BOMBING.

“Today Afghanistan is still chained and burning in the fires of both the Taliban and the criminal ‘Northern Alliance’ fundamentalists and the future of Afghanistan is in serious jeopardy,” warned Zoya, a member of RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) five years after the start of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Founded in 1977, RAWA is the oldest social and political organization of women in Afghanistan, struggling for a secular democracy through non-violent resistance. The underground women’s organization has been the most vocal critic of fundamentalism and war.

According to Zoya, the US “just replaced one fundamentalist regime with another,” and Afghan president Hamid Karzai “betrayed the people’s trust by relying on warlords…The security situation is critical – it is like a ticking bomb.”

Afghanistan has seen a dramatic upsurge in violence in the past two years. Attacks on US and NATO forces are on the rise and the rate of troop fatalities is comparable to Iraq. Suicide bombings, a one-time rare phenomenon, have reached epidemic proportions. Taliban forces control the southern part of the country, while the Northern Alliance, allied with the US to help topple the Taliban in 2001, now control the Northern Afghan provinces. Recently, Safia Amajan, the head of a provincial women\’s affairs department was gunned down outside her home.

RAWA gained international attention in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 for their courage in exposing the crimes of the Taliban. However, RAWA warned the US not to work with the Northern Alliance in October 2001. Today because of the climate of fear created by the fundamentalists, RAWA members continue to risk their lives for speaking out. Zoya, like all RAWA members, uses a false name and travels incognito.

On October 7, 2006, Zoya spoke at a benefit for RAWA, organized by Afghan Women’s Mission called “Breaking the Propaganda of Silence.” On October 7, 2006, Zoya spoke at a benefit for RAWA, organized by Afghan Women’s Mission called “Breaking the Propaganda of Silence.” Click here to read the transcript of her speech.

Zoya is available for interviews during her two week US tour. Call 626-676-7884 to schedule interviews.

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Emergency Appeal to Help Fund Malalai Joya’s Security

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Voice: 626-676-7884
E-mail: info_at_afghanwomensmission.org

Despite Increasing Threats to her Life, Afghan Government Withdraws Security for Joya

March 20, 2006 – 27 year old Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya is waging a battle against powerful forces trying to silence her. While on tour in the US, she has continued to receive threats from inside and outside the United States.

During a live Afghanistan Television call-in show, one caller openly threatened to kill her. Most recently in Fremont,
California, more than a dozen men disrupted a speaking event and aggressively hurled verbal insults at her.

Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, warlords have stepped up their propaganda efforts to try to discredit Malalai. At the same time, the Afghan central government is reducing their contribution for her security in Afghanistan.

We are asking for your support to help restore her security by replacing the contribution recently withdrawn by the Afghan government.

The US State Department pays millions of dollars to US-based company DynCorp to hire scores of security guards for Afghan president Hamid Karzai, but similar funds have never been made available to protect vital voices like Malalai Joya.

Malalai Joya enjoys immense popularity throughout Afghanistan for being the only member of the Parliament who dares to criticize the warlords in public. As a result of her courageous stand, she routinely receives death threats by phone, mail, and in person. To date, she has survived 4 assassination attempts.

When Malalai Joya returns to Afghanistan at the end of March, she will not have adequate protection from the dangers she faces.

She recently told a BBC reporter: “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.”

We have to preserve the voice of this brave woman who speaks for millions of silenced Afghans. The threat to her strong voice is certain and immediate.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today to help pay for the salaries and equipment of her security guards, no longer paid for by the Afghan government.

MAKE A SECURE ONLINE DONATION:
https://www.malalaijoya.com/donor/donor_info.php

OR

WRITE A CHECK:
Make checks out to “International Humanities Center,” and write “Malalai Joya” in the memo. Mail checks to International Humanities Center, P.O. Box 923, Malibu, CA 90265.

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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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Fresh News on Dismal Condition of Women in Afghanistan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Voice: 626-676-7884
E-mail: info_at_afghanwomensmission.org

March 10, 2005 — In the first report from her recent visit to Afghanistan to observe the status of women and children’s rights and health, and to assess the US-led military occupation of Afghanistan, a leader in American support for Afghan women will tell the hidden story of the Afghan situation, and a new film documenting prisoner abuse will be shown at a Code Pink-endorsed event in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Sonali Kolhatkar, co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, Pasadena, CA, and host of Uprising on KPFK, Pacifica radio, will speak on the terrible conditions still facing Afghan women, and the lack of progress on education, employment, poverty reduction, and warlord domination in Afghanistan. Kolhatkar found that main-stream media coverage of Afghanistan has painted an extremely misleading portrait of Afghan women’s "liberation" and the advent of democracy. She returned just a few days ago from a two-week trip to the capital, Kabul, and Herat and Farah Provinces to interview Afghan journalists, lawyers, refugees and activists, as well as observe the visionary aid projects of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. RAWA was founded in 1979 to fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and now holds peaceful demonstrations,
publishes information, runs hospitals, orphanages and schools in Afghanistan and in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan.

The event, taking place at Immanuel Presbyterian Church on March 12 from 1-4 p.m., features the documentary "Taliban Country," which narrates the differences in what an embedded and an independent reporter can see, and which prompted official inquiry. Filmmaker Carmela Baranowska spent three weeks embedded with U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, then returned in secret to the area. Baranowska will speak on the abuse of Afghans at the hands of US soldiers.

The event includes a slide show and music. Read more here.

About AWM: The Afghan Women’s Mission is a non-profit organization working in solidarity with RAWA. The mission aims to empower Afghan women by improving the education and health facilities of Afghan refugees, many of whom are women and children. http://www.afghanwomensmission.org

About RAWA: RAWA’s objective is to involve Afghan women in social and political activities, to acquire women’s human rights and contribute to the establishment of a democratic and secular government in Afghanistan. Despite the suffocating political atmosphere and continuing problems in Afghanistan, RAWA is involved in widespread activities including education, health and job building. More information about RAWA’s humanitarian work is available on their website, http://www.rawa.org.

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