October 7, 2011 marked 10 years since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the start of the Global "War on Terror." Issues related to US-led wars and militarism should be central to the visions that are forming at #OccupyWallSt and the other #Occupations around the country. In an effort to highlight the devastation US militarism has caused across the globe for decades, we are creating an artistic intervention at Zuccotti Park.
SOUTH ASIA SOLIDARITY INITIATIVE AND WAR RESISTERS LEAGUE IN ASSOCIATION WITH CENTER FOR PLACE CULTURE & POLITICS AT CUNY PRESENT
AN EVENING WITH MALALAI JOYA FEATURING EVE ENSLER:
Friday, April 15 -- 7pm til 9pm CUNY Graduate Center, Recital Hall ground floor -- 365 Fifth Ave at 34th Street [BDFM & NQR trains to 34th St, 6 train to 33rd]
This event is free and open to the public. We may get a FULL HOUSE -- arrive early to guarantee admission!
We encourage everyone to make a donationto support the cost of Ms. Joya's tour, her health clinic in Farah Province, andher office in Kabul. The donations should be made at the following link: http://www.afghanwomensmission.org/?page_id=518 (Please be sure to indicate "Malalai Joya" in the "order comments" section).
Copies of Ms. Joya's memoir will be available for sale at the event.
As the U.S.-NATO occupation of Afghanistan approaches its 10th anniversary this year, the U.S. anti-war movement is in dire need of clarity and momentum. The Afghan people still face overwhelming oppressive obstacles to creating movements toward social justice and self-determination -- obstacles empowered by the context of foreign intervention and war. Please join us for a rare opportunity to hear from one of the most courageous voices for justice and peace in Afghanistan, Malalai Joya.She will be joined by the acclaimed U.S. artist and activist Eve Ensler, to discuss the experiences and resilience of women (and all people) in Afghanistan -- and what people in the U.S. can do to raise their voices and support their struggles.
Malalai Joya is the youngest person to have been elected to Afghanistan's parliament, and an outspoken activist against military occupation and for women's rights in her country. She has been called the most famous and bravest woman in Afghanistan by BBC News. She was selected among the "heroes" for the Time 100 [TIME magazine, 2010] -- and she was just selected among the top activists of the world's Top 100 Women by the UK Guardian newspaper. Her memoir, "A Woman Among Warlords," was recently published in paperback bySimon&Schuster, with a new chapter on Afghanistan in the Obama era. She just wrote a piece for the Guardian on the U.S. soldiers' "kill team" and atrocity photos, a story that has returned U.S. news attention to Afghanistan this March-April.
Joya was supposed to arrive in the U.S. on March 18 to start a nationwide speaking tour, but at the last minute her visa was denied. A quick mobilization of media attention, activist petitioning and pressure on the State Department turned it around! [See articles in TIME magazine and San Francisco Chronicle.] She arrived in the U.S. on March 25, joining Noam Chomsky to address a crowd of over a thousand people at Harvard. Having spoken all across the U.S, her tour concludes in New York City on April 15 at this event.
Eve Ensler is an acclaimed playwright, performer and activist. She is the award-winning author of The Vagina Monologues, which has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Eve's work, I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World (2010), made the New York Times' best-seller list. She is the founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised over 80 million dollars for the cause. Ensler has traveled to Afghanistan, and built relationships of solidarity with activists for justice and peace there.
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 email@example.com.
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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
In just a few days, over 2500 people have signed an online petition to protest the denial of a US travel visa to Afghan women's rights activist and author Malalai Joya, who was to make a three-week US tour to promote the updated edition of A Woman Among Warlords.
On Sunday, Joya addressed the closing plenary of the Left Forum in New York City via skype, opening her remarks by saying, "Now the US government tries to stop me from entering, but they can never block my voice from reaching the great and peace-loving people in the United States."
The effort to overturn this visa denial continues. On March 18, a letter signed by six congresspeople and three senators urged that Joya be allowed the right to travel and complete her book tour in the United States.
A number of initiatives are being undertaken by activists across the United States to protest Joya's exclusion. There will be a rally on Wednesday at Harvard University, where Joya and Noam Chomsky are due to speak at a forum on 'The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan' this Friday, March 25.
*** Petition: Let Malalai Joya speak in the United States!
We, the undersigned, call on the US State Department to grant a visa to Malalai Joya for entry to the United States. We protest the denial of a travel visa to 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.
We agree with Joya's publisher at Scribner, Alexis Gargagliano, who 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.
Malalai Joya's voice is one that must be heard in the United States. When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, government officials put forward their concern for the rights of Afghan women as a central justification for the invasion. Today, we have the opportunity for an Afghan woman to speak to American audiences about the present and future of her people. We call upon the State Department to grant Malalai Joya a visa so that she can contribute her much needed, but rarely heard perspective to a timely discussion about the US' involvement in Afghanistan. Signatories include: Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Eve Ensler, Frances Fox Piven and John Nichols.
South Asia Solidarity Initiative & War Resisters League in association with
Coney Island Avenue project
-- a screening of a Democracy Now film about the role of the FBI in our communities
followed by a discussion with DN journalist Anjali Kamat
Speakers include members of Coney Island Avenue Project and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Join us for a screening of a new half-hour documentary film by Democracy Now journalists about preemptive prosecutions of Muslim men entrapped by the FBI, and the struggles of the families organizing against these unjust policies. Community members are invited to discuss with the filmmaker and activists about how Muslim Americans deal with the daily realities of the FBI's role in their communities. Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 7pm Pakeezah Restaurant 941 Coney Island Avenue (between Newkirk and 18th Avenues)
The August 9, 2010 issue of TIME magazine featured a striking cover photograph of an 18-year-old Afghan woman, Aisha, who was disfigured by the Taliban last year. The cover title read, “What happens if we leave Afghanistan.” While Aisha’s story and the stories of many other women like her may depict some part of the reality of women’s lives under the Taliban, TIME’s conclusion that continuing the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is necessary, is highly misleading and troubling.
Afghan women, like women around the world, have lived under very oppressive conditions for decades. Many women remain indoors, without education or health care, or economic security, have early marriages, and are unprotected from domestic violence. Today, after a decade of the U.S.-led occupation, the lives of Afghan women have become worse, not better: in addition to facing continued oppression under the Taliban and the equally oppressive Northern Alliance, they also live in a war zone.
TIME’s statement echoes and resurrects the same justification for the war given during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan: if U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan, any rights gained for Afghan women will be reversed by fundamentalist forces. However, this false logic grossly ignores the history of the U.S. imperialist relationship and presence in the region and its effect on women’s rights. During the Soviet occupation in the 1980’s, the U.S. armed the anti-Soviet Mujahideen forces, who were at one point led by Osama Bin Laden. In subsequent years the Taliban rose to power, with the United States as its ally. In 2001, when the Bush administration sought to topple the Taliban regime, the United States armed and enlisted the help of the Northern Alliance, a coalition of warlords with its own track record of human rights abuses. Indeed, the United States has consistently chosen the side of fundamentalist allies at the expense of Afghan women, and has always sought its own gains in the region.
In its nine long years, the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan has done nothing to improve the conditions for people in Afghanistan, especially for women. As the classified documents recently leaked by WikiLeaks.org corroborate, the coalition forces have been killing hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, the 2009 civilian death toll, close to 2,412 civilian deaths, was the highest of any year since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, and an increase of 24% from 2008. There has been a general increase in violence and civilian deaths because of occupation. A Human Rights Watch Press Alert in 2005, stated that up to 60% of law makers in the lower house of Afghanistan’s newly elected parliament are directly or indirectly connected to human rights abuses. By 2009, the U.N. human development index ranked Afghanistan 181 out of 182 countries. The maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan reveals the highest ever documented. Over the past decade, the immensely corrupt, U.S.-backed Afghan regime led by Hamid Karzai has passed and maintained numerous misogynist laws, including the one that put Aisha in jail after she fled from her in-laws.
For the last decade, the occupying forces of the U.S. and its NATO allies have nourished warlords and supported a corrupt government, leading many to join the Taliban and increasing their influence across Afghanistan. Increased civilian deaths, a fundamentalist resurgence, and deadly bombing raids have led to a devastated country and a Taliban stronger than ever before. TIME’s claim to “illuminate what is actually happening on the ground” falsely equates the last decade of occupation with progress. The occupation has not and will not bring democracy to Afghanistan, nor will it bring liberation to Afghan women. Instead, it has exacerbated deep-seated corruption in the government, the widespread abuse of women’s rights and human rights by fundamentalists, including Karzai’s allies, and stymied critical infrastructure development in the country. The question should not be “what happens if we leave Afghanistan,” the question should be “what happened when we invaded Afghanistan” and “what happens if we stay in Afghanistan.”
The Afghan people are capable of creating their own democratic future. Progressive groups and democratic parties in Afghanistan are fighting to reconstruct the peace and safety of their country, and more often than not, are forced underground for fear of their safety. Despite the repression from the U.S.-backed Karzai government, thousands of brave students and women have come out on to the streets of Kabul to protest the bombings and the continued war. It is from these forces that a larger progressive movement will emerge that could play a role in bringing real democracy to Afghanistan. If the United States continues the occupation, the space for progressive forces becomes increasingly limited.
We must know and remember, that liberation never comes from occupation. We must know and remember, that there will always be resistance to occupation. Occupations, no matter where they take place, from Iraq to Palestine to Turtle Island, are unjust. The American people must come out in support and solidarity with the resilient peoples of Afghanistan and elsewhere who are fighting for their own liberation, and must call for the end of all U.S. wars and occupations.
South Asia Solidarity Initiative
Action for Progressive Pakistan
Courage to Resist
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Veterans For Peace
Courage to Resist
War Resisters League
Anjali Kamat, Producer, Democracy Now! Derrick O'Keefe, Co-writer of the autibiography, Malalai Joya -- A Woman Among Warlords