This event was a great success!
Malalai spoke to a very enthusiastic auditorium filled absolutely to capacity with 450 people! They gave her two loud and long standing ovations.
About 100 or 150 of the folks at the event were students in the "Activism Course" of Prof. Denis Rancourt. The rest were peace/antiwar activists from the Ottawa community, both young and old, who learned about the event through emails over the previous couple of days.
After Denis made a few opening remarks about the course, he turned the floor over to NDP Youth Organizer, Carole Saab, who was the MC. She introduced Richard Sanders of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) who had the honour of speaking for a few minutes to introduce Malalai.
Here is the notice about the event:
Afghan Woman Member of Parliament,
Malalai Joya, to Speak in Ottawa!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006, 7 pm.
Marion Auditorium (MRN AUD), Marion Hall building, 140 Louis Pasteur Street, University of Ottawa campus.
We are very fortunate that Malalai Joya, Afghanistan's youngest MP, will be speaking in Ottawa. Please join us at this event, not only to learn more about how many of that country's most brutal warlords and drug barons have taken control of the highest positions of power, but also to congratulate Malalai for confronting these war criminals.
Malalai Joya is in Canada because she spoke at the NDP convention this weekend. She told delegates that foreign troops have not achieved any fundamental changes in her country and said: "If Canada really wants to help Afghan people and bring positive changes, they must act independently, rather than becoming a tool for implementing the policies of the U.S. government." Malalai also supported the NDP's resolution demanding the withdrawal of Canadian troops.
Click here for more on Malalai's speech at the convention.
Some Background on Malalai:
Malalai Joya stepped onto the world stage in December 2003 when, as a young delegate to the consitutional loya jirga (grand assembly) in Afghanistan, she denounced the warlords that were intimidating the legitimate delegates and manipulating the whole proceedings. The warlord chairing the session cut off her microphone, but in her two-minute speech, Malalai managed to question the legitimacy and legality of the process. She pointed out that electoral laws were supposed to prevent such criminal warlords from being allowed to attend. She went on to say that these felons should be put on trial, not allowed to take over the country that they had all-but destroyed. This two-minute speech changed Malalai's life. Since then, although she has received many death threats, she continues to stand up for the poor and powerless.
For more information, read this article in the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade's new issue of Press for Conversion! (#59), p.20:
Malalai Joya, Afghanistans Youngest Revolutionary
At 28, Malalai is now an elected member of the Wolesi Jirga. (This Lower House in the National Assembly is Afghanistan's equivalent to our House of Commons.) Undeterred by the domestic and foreign forces arrayed against her, Malalai has continued her outspoken struggle for justice within Parliament. On Parliament's first day, in December 2005, she caused an uproar among the many warlord MPs, when she said:
I offer my condolences to the people of our country for the presence of warlords, drug lords and criminals [in Parliament].
Those with money, power and backed by foreign countries came into parliament. Their presence pollutes our parliament as a legislative source.
President Bush owes us an apology for supporting extremist warlords, the Northern Alliance criminals.
In interviews since then she has made statements like:
Americas highly-trumpeted war against drugs and terrorism, and its campaign to promote democracy, are bogus because the U.S. has forged a unity with the most infamous, anti-democratic, religious terrorists and drug-mafia forces in Afghanistans history.
The warlords have not been elected by the people but by the killing machine, political power, billions of dollars and the intimidation of fundamentalists supported by the U.S. and numerous NGOs.
For more information, read these articles in Press for Conversion! (#59), pp.38-39:
Joya Causes Uproar on the First Day of Parliament
Joyas Goal as MP is to Expose the Sham Parliament
In May of this year, when Malalai dared to say the truth in parliament: that some fundamentalist mujahideen who are now in power had killed tens of thousands of innocent people, some of the most notorious of the warlord MPs cried out that she was prostitute and a communist. They shouted that that she should be raped, stabbed and killed! Several MPs then hurled bottles at her, but others encircled her. Half of parliament's women MPs later walked out in protest.
For more information, read this article in Press for Conversion! (#59), p.40:
MP Attacked in Parliament for Denouncing Warlords!
Joya is not alone. Many other Afghan people and grass-roots organizations are also understandably outraged that the US-led, Canadian-assisted, process of "regime change" was used to replace one a set of murderous, fundamentalist warlords (the Taliban) with another (the Northern Alliance). Unfortunately however, western governments and the corporate media have generally ignored these embarrassing facts in favour of simply "supporting our troops."
Some background on the "democratic process" in Afghanistan:
A phoney democracydominated by warlords, drug barons, oil industry representatives and World Bank administratorshas now been successfully imposed upon Afghanistan by the world's major military and economic powers, including Canada. The current issue of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade's magazine, Press for Conversion!, outlines the key steps in the supposedly democratic process" that brought this new regime to power. The process began very soon after 9/11, which offered a convenient pretext for the U.S. aerial-bombing campaign, that began on October 6, 2006. Some 3,000-3,400 innocent civilians were killed during the first six months of that U.S. bombardment alone.
Thanks to the subsequent military, financial and diplomatic efforts of American, Canadian and other NATO-member states, many of Afghanistans most violent and dreaded terrorists are now occupying all of the key cabinet positions and running the government.
This issue of Press for Conversion! highlights the litany of appalling scandals surrounding the so-called "democratic process" that aided and abetted this return to power of our closest allies in Afghanistan, the notoriously-brutal "Northern Alliance" warlords and their fundamentalist mujahedeen militias.
While Canadian governments (both Liberal and Conservative) have echoed the U.S. administration in lavishly praising their own successful installation of this so-called, "fledgling democracy" in Afghanistan, they have diligently covered up the fact that this "regime change" was riddled with widespread and systematic examples of violence, intimidation and corruption. As western powers stood by, this so-called "democratic process" was easily controlled by vicious warlords who used violent threats, intimidation, outright vote buying and vote rigging. The entire process, from the Bonn conference of Afghan delegatesthat were hand-picked by western powers (2001), through the "emergency loya jirga (grand council)" (2002), the "constitutional loya jirga" (2003), to the presidential election (2004) and the parliamentary elections (2005) was replete with serious examples of manipulations and corruption that have been studiously ignored by western governments and the corporate media.
Inspite of all this horror, the now-"stable" regime in Afghanistan is cloaked in a phoney veneer of respectability that is lauded by western governments and their corporate partners, including many in the mainstream media.
Click here to view the cover of this issue of Press for Conversion! (showing colour photos of all the main warlords) and the magazine's table of contents.
Click here to subscribe, renew and/or order extra copies now of Press for Conversion!
Please join us on Wednesday, September 13, to hear Malalai speak and to congratulate her for the real heroism she has shown in standing up to the warlords that, with our government's help, have take over the reigns of power in her country.
Co-sponsors of this event so far include:
Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Peace Alliance, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT), National Union of Public and General Employees, Students of Activism Class, Ottawa-Vanier NDP.
To add your organization's name to the list
of co-sponsors, please contact:
Federico Carvajal 613-851-2726 firstname.lastname@example.org