Friday! The Hope Blister- Dagger

Posted in Music. Tags: , . Comments Off on Friday! The Hope Blister- Dagger

Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

Channel Four report-

Link to unedited clip in 3GP format -Warning, shows the execution of naked bound prisoners by military personnel-

A video clip received from Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) evidences the way extra-judicial killings are executed in the island. The video captured in January show the behaviour of Sri Lanka’s soldiers during the war that is claimed ‘humanitarian operation’ to rescue the Tamils, JDS reported Tuesday. The conversations of the killers are in Sinhala. “From the casual nature of the conversations and from the fact that it is taking place in an open area in broad daylight – it can be surmised that these are not ordinary acts by rogue elements carried out without the permission from the top leadership. The soldiers egging each other on, the insulting jokes and the laughter show that there is a consensus that these cold blooded killings should take place,” JDS further reported.

Meanwhile in the concentration camps Tamils fear the ‘Dolphin Vans’-

Displaced Tamil people are being daily abducted from camps in Vavuniya by people who come in vans, a displaced person told the BBC. Speaking with BBC Sandeshaya from a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Vavuniya, the IDP said all the displaced try to hide in their tents as the ‘Dolphin vans’ arrive in the camps. “We do not know what exactly happens as everybody hides as soon as they see the vans. But I know that two to three people are disappearing daily,” he said.

Some IDPs may also be secretly leaving the camps by paying the authorities, he said. “Some people have suddenly disappeared. I don’t know whether they were abducted or left with the help of the authorities.”

Boycott Sri Lanka

Is The Obama Administration Victimising A Nobel Peace Prize Winner?

Via FreeGaza

After Downing Street, by Ann Wright former US diplomat:- Less than a month ago, in late July, 2009, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire ( was travelling from Dublin, Ireland to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet Peace Laureate Jody Williams to participate in peace events there. As she arrived at Dulles airport near Washington, DC, from Ireland on July 30, 2009, she passed through the regular immigration line, but then was detained in a special processing area over two hours causing her to miss her connecting flight to Albuquerque.

This is the second time Maguire has been detained by US Immigration in the past three months. On May 14, 2009, she was detained at the Houston, Texas, International Airport as she was returning from a 3 day conference in Guatemala, hosted by four of Nobel Peace Women Laureates. During the detention in Houston, Immigration officers questioned her about her visit in April, 2007, to the Palestinian village of Bil’in where she was injured by a rubber-coated bullet shot by Israeli military forces during a protest at the fence built by the Israelis in the village.

In Houston, Maguire asked the Immigration officials what she could do to prevent future detention and was told to get a 10 year visa to the United States.

She immediately applied and obtained a 10 year visa in early July from US Consul in Belfast, Ireland. She presented that visa to the Dulles Airport Immigration official. Maguire had had an indefinite visa to the U.S. in a previous passport and had never had any problems travelling to or through the United States.

Three months later, when she told the U.S. Immigration Officer at Dulles airport that she was a Nobel Peace Laureate and showed him the documents concerning the Peace Laureate meeting she was attending in New Mexico, the Immigration Officer sarcastically said that detention “is going to happen every time you enter the United States,” and “you should get used to it.”

Maguire has been publicly outspoken and critical about Israeli treatment of Palestinians and has a long history of non-violent acts of civil disobedience against war and against nuclear weapons.

Not only was Maguire hit in 2007 by an Israeli military rubber-coated bullet and tear-gassed while participating in a protest against the construction of the Israeli fence dividing the Palestinian village of Bil’in, on June 30, 2009, the boat that Maguire and nineteen others were on in international waters off Gaza was boarded by Israeli military and all the passengers and crew were put in an Israeli prison for 7 days. Maguire was deported from Israel on July 7, as was fellow passenger, former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Earlier, in 2004, as a part of her work against nuclear weapons, she travelled to Israel to meet Mordechai Vanunu as he left prison at the end of his 18 year sentence imposed for his revealing Israel’s nuclear program.

Because of her detention by U.S. Immigration on July 30, 2009, Maguire had to stay overnight in Washington, DC, at her own expense, as United Airlines said they were not responsible for her missing her flight. The next day, she ended up on a flight to New Mexico with 3 stops before getting to Albuquerque at 4pm, missing all the day’s events.

Maguire said that the harassment by U.S. Immigration began in 2009, after the change in U.S. Presidential administrations.

I wonder if the Secretary of State might wish to have discussions with the Secretary of Director of Immigration and Citizenship about how to treat Nobel Peace Laureates, unless, because of her outspoken criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, the treatment Maguire got on July 30, 2009 was exactly what the Obama administration wants her to have.

Selection By Occupier

Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (albeit funded by both US & NATO govts) has reports of systematic fraud, the EU are more upbeat, try to be surprised. The one candidate Ramazan Bashardost, with some real credentials in representing the Afghan people against powerful and corrupt elite interests of course had no real chance in the elections run under the auspices of US/NATO, spreading democracy innit.

Election Administration and Procedural Observations

FEFA observed that throughout the country, many polling centers did not open on time, mainly due to factors such as last minute relocations of polling centers, last minute administrative and technical issues, and security concerns. FEFA observers reported cases of temporary and sometimes early closing of polling centers due to security incidents or disregard for established procedures by IEC field staff. Early in the day, FEFA received and shared with the IEC reports from fifteen provinces about malfunctioning punches—to mark used voter registration cards—in polling stations. IEC reacted during the morning hours with instructions to polling staff to use scissors to cut the edge of voter’s registration card. Questions about the durability of the indelible ink used to mark voters’ fingers caused concerns early in the day. Unlike the 2004 Presidential Elections, this time around there are reports that the ink reemerges after attempts to wash it off. Reports about improper interference by local IEC staff with the voting process were received throughout the day from many parts of the country. Questions about the impartiality of some IEC local staff constitute a trend that has persisted throughout the electoral process. Several anticipated patterns of fraud appear to have manifested in varying degrees. FEFA is assessing reports about these incidents.

Security Related Observations

Grenade and rocket attacks directed at polling and city centers emerged as a major form of disruption in many parts of the country. These attacks continued throughout the day. FEFA also received isolated reports of suicide bombings and gunfire in the vicinity of polling stations as well as reports of the manifestation of violent threats directed at the voters by the Taliban in several parts of the country.

Women Participation Related Observations

As had been predicted with concerns, female electoral staff appeared absent at many polling centers throughout the country. In parts of the country, FEFA observers reported incidents of male proxy voting for female voters. Fewer female polling stations opened than initially planned.

Voter Turnout

Preliminary FEFA impressions seem to indicate a lower voter turnout if compared to the 2004 Presidential Elections, in particular the female turnout. Voter turnout varied geographically within provinces and districts.


On the day before the elections, the government requested all domestic and international media to refrain from reporting on incidents of violence between 6 am and 8 pm on Election Day. Local media complied, whereas international media reported on security incidents throughout the day. Though FEFA sympathizes with the government’s argument that reports of security incidents might have discouraged people to vote, it notes that this limitation of media freedom is a violation of democratic principles.

Concluding Remarks

The above general observations raise concerns about the quality of today’s elections, and about the impact of the reported incidents of violence—some gruesome. FEFA will continue to thoroughly assess field reports filed by its observers. FEFA takes this opportunity to reiterate its commitment to the transparency and fairness of the remaining phases of the 2009 elections. The electoral process is entering the critical phase of counting and verification of results. FEFA calls on key players to uphold the established rules of this process. FEFA’s final report on the 2009 Elections will be published after verified results of the elections are released.

Posted in Afghanistan. Tags: . Comments Off on Selection By Occupier

Friday! The Peter Serafinowicz Show

This is a… sort of a…. best of taster, help get The Peter Serafinowicz Show released, details @

Posted in Culture(!), Miscellaneous. Tags: , . Comments Off on Friday! The Peter Serafinowicz Show

Afghan MP Malalai Joya on the Elections

BBC Radio 4 from last week-

And a short interview

Were you prepared for the consequences of the speeches you made against the government?
In parliament, they couldn’t tolerate me because I told the truth. They turned off my microphone so I couldn’t talk, they insulted and threatened me. There are people saying even though they’ve expelled me from parliament, it’s not enough: ‘We must punish her with the Kalashnikov.’

How many assassination attempts have you survived?
From 2003 until now, five. Almost every night now, I move from one safe house to another and I have bodyguards but it’s still not safe.

Are you prepared to die for what you believe in?
Samad Behrangi, an Iranian writer, said: ‘Death could very easily come now, but I should not be the one to seek it. If I should meet it and that is inevitable, it would not matter. What matters is whether my living or dying has had any effect on the lives of others.’ My enemies are trying to eliminate me. I’m not the first – other democratic men and women in my country have been killed – but I believe no power is able to hide the truth.

Do you think the government is still corrupt?
We democrats have two options: one, to compromise with a warlord, drug-lord government, those who came into power after 9/11 with the mask of democracy. To compromise with people who are like Pinochet, Hitler, Khomeini… The second way is to tell the truth and not sit silent. It’s a mockery of democracy in Afghanistan. Your governments have replaced the fundamentalist rule of the Taliban with another fundamentalist regime who are responsible for killing, torture and repression.

Many people in Britain don’t know what the war is about. What do people in Afghanistan think it’s about?
People have always wanted to occupy Afghanistan because of its geopolitical location and also to have access to the valuable gas and oil of the Central Asian Republics.

Is life better for Afghans now than it was under the Taliban?
No, the situation is as bad as it was. Men and women of my country suffer from injustice, insecurity, joblessness, poverty, corruption. Eighteen million people in Afghanistan live on less than two dollars a day. We have ‘jungle law’. I have meetings with young girls and children who have been brutally raped.

There’s been outrage in Britain at each British soldier killed in the conflict. Should there be the same level of outrage for every Afghan civilian killed?
Of course. The blood of our people is shed like water. In May, in Farah province alone, more than 150 civilians were killed by air strikes, most of them women and children. Bombing doesn’t bring peace. Occupation forces are bombing and killing innocent civilians, and the Taliban are also terrorising and killing people.

What do you hope to see happen in Afghanistan’s future?
These criminals in government have no support among the hearts of our people. But we need democratic-minded people around the world to support us. All the British families who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan should raise their voice against injustice, and also against more of their taxes funding an occupation that keeps a gang of corrupt warlords in power in Kabul.

Are you hopeful about tomorrow’s elections?
The election is a showcase of the US government. We have a famous saying that it’s not important who is voting, it’s important who is counting. The next president of Afghanistan will be selected behind the closed doors of the White House.


(ht2 Derrick O’Keefe)

Posted in Media. Tags: , . Comments Off on Afghan MP Malalai Joya on the Elections

Afghan Elections

Gareth Porter for IPS reports-

Afghanistan’s presidential election has long been viewed by U.S. officials as a key to conferring legitimacy on the Afghan government, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his powerful warlord allies have planned to commit large-scale electoral fraud that could have the opposite effect.

Malalai Joya writes-(review of her book Parts 1, 2 & 3 and more soon)

Like millions of Afghans, I have no hope in the results of this week’s election. In a country ruled by warlords, occupation forces, Taliban insurgency, drug money and guns, no one can expect a legitimate or fair vote.

Among the people on the street, a common sentiment is, ‘Everything has already been decided by the U.S. and NATO, and the real winner has already been picked by the White House and Pentagon.’ Although there are a total of 41 candidates running for president, the vast majority of them are well known faces responsible for the current disastrous situation in Afghanistan.

Hamid Karzai has cemented alliances with brutal warlords and fundamentalists in order to maintain his position. Although our Constitution forbids war criminals from running for office, he has named two notorious militia commanders as his vice-presidential running mates – Qasim Fahim, who was, at the time of the 2001 invasion, the warlord who headed up the Northern Alliance, and Karim Khalili. The election commission did not reject them or a number of others accused of many crimes, and so the list of candidates also includes former Russian puppets and a former Taliban commander.

Karzai has also continued to absolutely betray the women of Afghanistan. Even after massive international outcry and brave protesters taking to the streets of Kabul, Karzai has implemented the infamous law targeting Shia women. He had initially promised to review the most egregious clauses, but in the end it was passed with few amendments, leaving the barbaric anti-women statements untouched. As Human Rights Watch recently said, “Karzai has made an unthinkable deal to sell Afghan women out in return for the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election.”

Deals have been made with countless fundamentalists in Karzai’s maneuvering to stay in power. For example, pro-Iranian extremist Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, who has been accused of war crimes, has been promised five cabinet positions for his party, and so he has told the media he’s backing Karzai. A deal has even been done with the dreaded warlord Rashid Dostum – who has returned from exile in Turkey to campaign for Karzai – and many other such terrorists. Rather than democracy, what we have in Afghanistan today are back room deals amongst discredited warlords.

The two main contenders to Karzai’s continued rule, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah, do not offer any change; both are former cabinet ministers in this discredited regime and neither has a real, broad footing amongst the people. Abdullah has run a high profile campaign, in part due to the backing and financial support he receives from Iran’s fundamentalist regime. Abdullah and some of the Northern Alliance commanders supporting him have threatened unrest if he loses the vote, raising fears of a return to the rampant violence and killing that marked the civil war years of 1992 to 1996. All of the major candidates’ speeches and policies are very similar. They make the same sweet-sounding promises, but we are not fooled. Afghans remember how Karzai abandoned his campaign pledges after winning the 2004 vote.

We Afghans know that this election will change nothing and it is only part of a show of democracy put on by and for the West, to legitimize its future puppet in Afghanistan. It seems we are doomed to see the continuation of this failed, mafia-like corrupt government for another term.

The people of Afghanistan are fed up with the rampant corruption of Karzai’s “narco-state” government – his own brother, Wali Karzai, has been linked to drug trafficking in Kandahar Province – and the escalating war waged by NATO. In May of this year, U.S. air strikes killed approximately 150 civilians in my native province, Farah. More than ever, Afghans are faced with powerful internal enemies – fundamentalist warlords and their Taliban brothers-in-creed – and the external enemies occupying the country.

Democracy will never come to Afghanistan through the barrel of a gun, or from the cluster bombs dropped by foreign forces. The struggle will be long and difficult, but the values of real democracy, human rights and women’s rights will only be won by the Afghan people themselves.

So do not be fooled by this façade of democracy. Your governments in the West that claim to be bringing democracy to Afghanistan ignore public opinion in their own countries, where growing numbers are against the war. President Obama in particular needs to understand that the change Afghans believe in does not include more troops and a ramped up war.

If the populations of Afghanistan and the NATO countries were able to vote on this military occupation it could not continue indefinitely, and peace would finally be within reach.

Posted in Afghanistan. Tags: , . Comments Off on Afghan Elections

Malalai Joya- Raising My Voice/A Woman Among Warlords (Review Part 3)


‘Most of the Taliban were long gone before the first bombs fell…And so, in Farah as with the rest of my country, many lives were needlessly lost.’

Glued to the radio Malalai and her family experienced the invasion first through global media reports then as terrifying air strikes rained down, it was many months before they saw any ground forces, air power being the devastating weapon of choice for the US/NATO assault. Once the invading forces arrived in Farah they built a fortified base and ignored the citizens. She sums up subsequently-

‘In the first years after Afghanistan was invaded, as they removed the oppressive regime of the Taliban and many promises were made, many people seemed sympathetic to the American and allied forces. But in the later years as they did nothing for the people, installed a corrupt government, and killed many civilians, they lost support. And people discovered that behind the nice name of ‘International Security Assistance Force’ is in fact just another foreign occupation of Afghanistan.’

Joya details the murky history of the Northern Alliance and the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, a catalogue of shifting alliances as the US poured funds into all three at one time or another (paying the Taliban $43 million for ‘Poppy eradication’ and recently Sibel Edmonds stated that Bin Laden was working with the US right up until 911). Now it was the turn of the Northern Alliance to find favour with the Pentagon and soak up the largesse of the US taxpayer (imagine spending it on such silly things as healthcare and schools when there are war criminals to tool up!). Millions in cash was handed out to warlords, Dostum, Sayyaf, Rabbanin, Arif et al, a rogues gallery of vicious terrorists, however as their terror was mostly aimed at the Afghan people they were seen as a safe investment. The old warlord favourite of rape became once again endemic, seeing it as punishing their enemies while simultaneously rewarding their troops.

The Bush Whitehouse looked to establish a puppet administration, its attention already turning towards Iraq. As the Pashtuns were the largest ethnic group they looked for a leader from among them, no Pashtun warlords were considered reliable, most had sided with the Taliban. Eventually a safe pair of hands was found in Hamid Karzai, deputy foreign minister during the civil war years believed to be a CIA contact since the 80’s and an advisor to UNOCAL. US media began portraying him as an anti Taliban resistance leader as it flew warlords and exiles to Bonn to create the transitional government. Joya now introduces one of her bete noirs, Zalmay Khalilzad the neoconservative front man for the US empire. In Bonn Khalilzad enacting the ‘Warlord policy’ did a closed door deal with the warlords to give them top government posts, a legacy that lasts to the present day, the damage immeasurable. An emergency Loya Jirga in June 2002 carefully managed behind the scenes by Khalilzad put the motley collection of war criminals into power in Kabul and elected Karzai president, tellingly his protection detail was comprised entirely of US troops. The 90 year old exiled King Zhir Shah was flown in and declared ‘Father of the Nation’ neocons loving the theatrical touch (and spurious legitimacy) royalty affords.

The warlord government established their criminal fiefdoms quickly, in Farah they were not pleased with Joya and OPAWC’s operations which were expanding with a medical clinic- Hamoon Health Centre in 2003 with Joya as director. She was not medically trained and so young that several times people mistook her for a functionary and asked her where to find Dr Joya. They scraped together the money for an ambulance and recruited a dedicated driver, the ambulance became famous in Farah province even as the government refused to fund the fuel, the community helped out declaring ‘This is the car of the people’.

The earthquake that destroyed Bam in south eastern Iran brought an influx of survivors to the clinic and with Afghanistan at the time having a high international media profile OPAWC was able to raise more money and an orphanage was established. Malalai lived behind it in a one room hut with no electricity, reading at night by oil lamp. She remembered her schooling and as well as teaching them reading and writing she made sure they played and had fun as well as being able to discuss their feelings and deal with their traumas. They had a constant problem with family reclaiming girls in order to marry them off or sell them. She details the painful memory of one girl Rahella, whose uncle married her off to a cousin, Rahella soon afterwards committing suicide by self immolation which Joya points out is a growing phenomenon in Afghanistan as women try to escape the misery of their lives.

In 2003 the UN was to oversee a second Loya Jirga, to approve a new constitution. Nine delegates, 7 men 2 women, were to be chosen from Joya’s district, she was 25 and determined to be an honest voice in the warlord dominated puppet administration, she determined she would pledge to put an end to the rule by fundamentalist and warlords, to expose the true nature of the Jirga. Thus begins Malalai Joya’s political career which takes up the bulk of her book, as the director of the free clinic she had a great deal of respect and recognition and discovered she was an effective speaker and someone the people could tell their troubles to knowing she would try to help. It is interesting that she recalls some of the UN staff being overjoyed at a young passionate progressive voice emerging while others in language couched as fear for her safety were less enthused. Winning the election process Malalai attended the Loya Jirga comprised of 502 delegates out of which 114 were women, already though fear of reprisals meant only her friend and fellow delegate Nafas would share a dormitory room with her, an outspoken woman talking of equality and social justice was not to the administration’s taste. Malalai was shocked that warlords were in the assembly, men who ran private torture chambers were taking power in Afghanistan once again. This was the elephant in the room no one was supposed to mention (and not dissimilar to the war criminals at large in our political classes). While she had a head filled with tales of abuse, murder, rape and torture, the tears of widows and the terrorised orphans at her clinic she saw an apparatus overrun with war criminals backed by the Bush administration. Malai had to speak out, she negotiated a chance to speak in font of the assembly, she spoke truth to power, her microphone was cut off 90 seconds in to her speech.

After that she was not safe even in the parliament building, the UN arranged bodyguards and safe houses, warlord controlled media slandered her even as she made a name in global media, supporters held a rally in Farah for her even as the assembly made sure she could not speak again.


When the Jirga ended in January 2004 it had adopted a new constitution in an atmosphere of ‘fear and corruption’ as a HRW researcher who attended described it. Joya now had powerful enemies, they received a tip off a warlord would have her killed on a flight home, the UN arranged for another direct flight to Farah where she was greeted by a huge crowd. Invited to a reception by the governor she noticed a young girl supporter of hers switched the tea cup she had been given with the governor’s, a precaution and a challenge to those who meant her harm. Her life was in constant danger yet she had the support of Afghans long oppressed by the ruling class in their various guises. Her challenge was to remain an effective representative of the people in a government built out of war criminals by neoconservative imperialists. She was not going to back down.

Malalai Joya’s Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of the Afghan Woman Who Dares to Speak Out has just been published by Rider Books, all proceeds go to humanitarian projects in Afghanistan. Buy it here, here or here. Or in the US where it is called A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice, buy from Amazon.

Part 1, Part 2.

Malalai Joya- Raising My Voice/A Woman Among Warlords (Review Part 2)


‘the same donkey, only with a new saddle.’

Malalai and her family returned to Afghanistan in 1992, she was just fourteen and remembers Farah as a terrifying place as the civil war raged. Young girls would be abducted off the street, raped and killed by roaming gangs, Mujahideen troops would commandeer anything they pleased, people hid in their houses. It was too dangerous and after a few months Malalai and her family once again fled Afghanistan, returning to Pashae refugee camp in Pakistan. It was in this time, during the civil war before the Taliban that the oppressive warlords and fundamentalists made women into virtual slaves, Joya points out that member’s of the current government (such as Karzia ally Asif Mohseni) back then introduced laws governing women’s behaviour that seemed indistinguishable from the Taliban’s. Public beheadings, torture, rape were all endemic. Joya makes the distinction that it was these Criminal Mujahideen who burnt down schools, universities and museums. Fundamentalist warlords persecuted the minority Sikh and Hindu population, making Hindus wear yellow armbands, she notes ‘the same way Hitler did to Jews’ . One popular theory among Afghans about the war was that the militias were so well armed by outside backers, the US and others now wanted them to kill each other off using up their weaponry. Joya feels the horrors of the civil war have been ignored in Western perceptions, as they are not essential to the narrative our governments have constructed, not least because we now support war criminals from that era.

Once back in Pakistan Malalai went back to school and through an NGO also began teaching basic literacy to adults, earning the princely sum of $17 dollars a month. She saw first hand how education began changing lives, giving women independence and lives outside of the home and convincing men too of the value of education and greater equality. She became an effective teacher and a voracious student, learning English from phrases left on another classes blackboard. Among beloved authors she recalls were- Mir Ghulam Muhammad Ghobar’s Afghanistan in the Course of History, Ashraf Dehghani’s ‘The Epic of Resistance’, Maxim Gorky, Jack London, Langston Hughes and Bertolt Brecht. Fascinated by biographies she mentions, Mohammad Mossadegh, Mahatma Ghandi, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Bhagat Singh, Saeed Sultanpur, Victor Jara, Nelson Mandela. The world is very different away from the imperialist lens.

During this time the Taliban were recruiting in the mosques in Pakistan and sending fighters into Afghanistan to defeat the former Mujahideen warlords. In September 96 they took power, by 1998 they controlled 95% of Afghanistan. And here the repeating tragedy occurs again, exhausted from years of warring the Afghans hoped for some improvement, some stability and security, but the Taliban set about perpetrating the same abuses the warlords and criminal Mujahideen did- ‘the same donkey, only with a new saddle.’, bolstered by fundamentalist fervour and Pakistan government backing- ‘Their security was like that of a graveyard’.

Joya remembers an exchange with her father, admiring Palestinian children’s resistance to Israeli military attacks she asked why could they not be like Palestinians, ‘where even the children are so brave?’ ‘If that how you feel, why don’t you become like a Palestinian in your own country.’ her father replied. This made Joya intent on returning to Afghanistan and fighting against the forces of oppression there. It is an interesting an arresting comparison, Afghan people and Palestinians, people at the mercy of massive forces both political, economic and historical enflamed with religious fervour, it’s not a comparison I think a Westerner would make and is all the more informative for it.

IN 1998 she first became involved with OPAWC (Organization for Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities) unable to afford going to university in Pakistan Malalai saw OPAWC , who aimed to improve education for women, as another way to pursue her thirst for knowledge and her emerging activism. They asked her if she would return to Afghanistan to run classes for girls in Herat province, against the edicts of the Taliban, she agreed (it was at this point she adopted the name Joya, to protect her family from reprisals). One impression the book leaves you with is fighting for human rights and equality puts a woman into such a perilous clandestine existence that such activists live almost as spies, however they are not looking to steal intelligence they are working to spread knowledge. A kind of heroism rarely celebrated in our countries (unless there’s something I’m missing about GI Joe & 24).

Herat was the site of the first major battle of the Afghan Soviet war, in retaliation for an uprising against Soviet ‘advisors’ the air force bombed the city killing 24,000 people in one week, during the civil war a fundamentalist & ally of conservative Iranian Mullahs, Ismail Khan ruled Herat as a fiefdom, he sent forces to participate in the sacking of Kabul, fleeing to Iran when the Taliban took power. Under Taliban rule Herat with its progressive culture that put a value on education was hard hit, men had to sport beards, women had to wear burqas and education of women & girls was prohibited. Herat though refused to submit to this authoritarian misuse of Islam, OPAWC saw it as a prime territory for their education program. With trepidation Malalai and her family left Pakistan, she tells a story popular in the camps that illustrates the brutal idiocy of the Taliban’s excesses- a family taking their teenage son for burial were stopped, the coffin opened and when it was seen the boy did not have a beard they pulled the corpse out and whipped it, calling the cadaver an infidel.

Undercover in Herat (literally) Malalai finds the lack of peripheral vision afforded by the burqa hard to get used to, her father (now with Taliban friendly beard, maintaining cover was essential, so much so they were mistaken for fundamentalists on their arrival) said he could still tell it was her in a crowd because she walked like a penguin. Houses were often searched by Taliban looking for proscribed items, which amounted to pretty well much everything except the Quran and the Taliban newspaper (no pictures, such idolatry was forbidden). There were however many acts of quiet rebellion, such as secret Titanic parties, through pirated VHS tapes James Cameron’s Titanic became a huge underground (and illegal) hit in Afghanistan. In a brief review Joya reveals herself to be an actvist first and romantic second (Jack should have survived to marry Rose but what most interested her was the depiction of the wealthy passenger’s mistreatment of the poor). The craze became so epidemics that in the food markets you could buy Titanic onions, tomatoes, you name it, there was much laughter when a Mullah during a sermon said that whose who disobeyed god would be destroyed like the Titanic, the clerics were secretly watching it too.

Getting the secret schools up and running seems an incredible achievement, they would use a sympathetic person’s house, often basements, sounds needed to be muffled, the girls who attended had to drift in slowly and not in large groups lest it arouse suspicion. If you were caught it meant jail at the very least. Malalai’s sisters became far better educated than her brothers who had to attend Taliban schools, with brutal zealous teachers of low intellect. The times were hard, drought caused price rises, Malalai’s father’s health suffered from a series of hard jobs (‘he would come home from work and the stump of his leg would be bloodied and sore‘)as only he and her eldest brother could work to support the family, the Taliban having forbidden women from working outside the home. However there was still ice cream under the Taliban, but the burqa made the eating of it another challenge altogether. Joya also describes the quiet solidarity of the people in Herat, helping each other out in small gestures of solidarity and defiance, and she notes how many men were also against the Taliban and helped women.

She caused some sleepless nights for her parents, coming home from secret schools she had to avoid Taliban street patrols while lugging concealed books with her, her mother suffered from episodes of depression, an incident where her brother was suspected of photographing a victim of Taliban execution (escaping due to the film developers subterfuge, another small act of rebellion, unasked for but given freely) leaving them all fearing he was dead. During the five years of the Taliban’s reign conditions got worse, and the world mostly ignored it, Eve Enlser gets an honourable mention for both visiting and publicising the conditions for women.

Malalai became a skilled undercover educator and activist so that by the summer of 2001 she became director of OPAWC for Western Afghanistan, in charge of their operations in Herat, Farah and Nimroz. Farah’s need was greatest and a return to her birthplace held some attraction for both her and her family. They made the decision to move to Farah, it was there a few months later just as they were getting their new home straightened out that over the radio came news that planes hijacked by terrorists has been flown into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, killing thousands of Americans ‘Within days everyone knew there would be a war’.

Malalai Joya’s Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of the Afghan Woman Who Dares to Speak Out has just been published by Rider Books, all proceeds go to humanitarian projects in Afghanistan. Buy it here, here or here. Or in the US where it is called A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice, buy from Amazon.

Part 1Part 3.

Malalai Joya- Raising My Voice/A Woman Among Warlords (Review Part 1)


‘The truth is like the sun: when it comes up nobody can block it out or hide it’

Malalai Joya is an Afghan woman, the youngest MP in the Wolesi Jirga, elected in 2005 and barred from it since 2007 because a woman telling the truth is still forbidden in Afghanistan. In her book Raising My Voice she attempts to get her story out to tell the people in the nations currently assaulting her country that their governments are lying to them. She is asking us to support the Afghan people in their struggle against both occupiers and a puppet government packed with warlords and Taliban.

Malalai Joya has survived five assassination attempts, she taught in secret girls schools under the noses of the Taliban, risking life and limb daily, she ran Hamoon Health Centre opening in 2003 even as a governor’s representative told her ‘Open your clinic, but we will not guarantee your security’. However at the opening ceremony many Afghans attended, telling Malalai ‘The people will guarantee your security’, this is a recurring theme in her book, the resilience of Afghan society against the Taliban, the warlords and the occupiers. The US/NATO forces did not try to establish democracy they turned to those with existing networks of power- warlords (power maintained like the invaders through overwhelming violence, perhaps this is why they see them as legitimate partners, it should also be noted these are all overwhelmingly male institutions trading power). They swapped one tyranny for another. It’s hardly a cause worth our troops dying for and as Joya lays out in the course of her book the other purported reasons- to stop terrorist attacks in the West by destroying safe havens in the region or to free the women of Afghanistan from murderous oppression- are little more than cover for a very old game of power, geopolitics and resources. What began as a furious lashing out by the US in response to 9/11 has become a toehold to remake the entire region into something more to Washington and international capital’s liking (and yes that does include the hundreds of billions from narcotics). Even if the stated aims were sincere the means to achieve them are shown to be thoroughly counter productive, as she writes-

The Afghan people are not terrorists we are the victims of terrorism… what we really need is an invasion of hospitals, clinics and schools for boys and girls.’

Malalai Joya was born the second of ten children in the small village of Ziken in Western Afghanistan on 25th April 1978, three days later the Soviets entered Afghanistan ‘since then war is all we Afghans have known’. She was named Malalai after Malalai of Maiwand, a young woman who fought heroically against the British Empire. Her father was largely absent during her first years, he fought against the Soviets after having been a politically active medical student in Kabul and so was hunted by the authorities. For many years they heard nothing of him until a message came he was alive and living in a refugee camp in Iran (albeit having lost a leg to a landmine, she recounts how with his medical training he was able to instruct his brother how to treat him in the field, probably saving his own life. Injuries from landmines and unexploded ordnance are ubiquitous, a 2005 survey by Handicap International found 867,000 Afghans were severely disabled in a country with a population of 33 million). Her family rallied round, her uncle Babak (a survivor of Soviet torture) helped out, and she became close to her paternal grandmother who delighted in spoiling the young Malalai (as is a grandmother’s prerogative the world over!). As a sign of their affection her grandmother asked that after her death Malalai should go to her grave, put water on it and shout three times ‘I want to hear her voice’. Her grandfather was a well respected man who loved language & socialising, he even managed to make policemen ashamed of themselves when they periodically came to ransack the family home looking for her father. She thinks it is from him she gained her remarkable political skills.

By 1982 the conflict with the Soviets had become so bad that when news of her father in Iran came they left their home in Farah Province to join him in Iran. Joya notes that for many of her generation it was common to spend most of your life in refugee camps outside of Afghanistan. Millions were displaced by the war with the Soviets from 79-89 and over a million killed. It was at this time that US (and Saudi Arabian) funding of fundamentalists expanded the infrastructure of the warlords, Taliban and later Al Qaeda, the capacity for extreme violence was the qualifying requirement for US taxpayers money. She explains an interesting dynamic of the refugee crisis, the Afghan regime was trying to stem the flight while the US, Iran & Pakistan encouraged it, seeing refugees as easy recruits to form Mujahideen cadres who would pursue their proxy interests (both Iran and Pakistan’s ISI secret service created political parties in these camps too). Refugees also meant money from the UN, money which could be skimmed before it reached the displaced Afghans. The refugees were largely confined to camps (they were second class citizens to the authorities) where the newly flush fundamentalists would target democratic activists. As such her father lived off camp in the town Zahedan, being only four Malalai did not at first see the one legged stranger as her father, over time and with generous bribes of ice cream (you will learn from this book that Malalai Joya loves ice cream!) the relationship grew. When they were forced to move back to the more dangerous Khunuk Birjand camp Malalai’s mother fashioned a string device attached to her newborn sister as an alarm system, not just the roaming fundamentalists but wild animals were a threat.

‘Meena’s blood has fertilised the struggle of all Afghan Women’

The refugee family were denied schooling in Iran and so decided to move to Quetta in Pakistan where the children could attend schools even though it meant a perilous journey through bandit country. There in Quetta Malalai attended a boarding school for boys and girls run by RAWA [Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan]. It was here Malalai got to meet Meena the founder of RAWA who impressed her greatly (complimenting Malalai on her lustrous hair). In 1987 Meena was kidnapped in Quetta and killed, her murder is believed to have been carried out by fundamentalists associated with the party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar together with the KHAD, the Afghan branch of the KGB. Later the beloved school bus driver was also murdered by fundamentalists.

Joya is clear about her relations with RAWA (sometimes mere membership is enough to get you raped and/or killed, the warlords and fundamentalists simultaneously hating both the leftist progressive politics and feminism)- ‘I am an independent, but I am not ashamed to say I share many of the same ideals. If I ever decided that I could be more effective working within the framework of an organisation, RAWA is the first I would consider joining.’

The young Joya loved school even when an outbreak of lice meant her long hair, of which she was very proud, had to be cut off. Her father’s search for work meant they moved around Pakistan, most of the camps were now firmly under fundamentalist control, they even had their own prison camps within camps where political activist would be held in appalling conditions. They found a camp in Peshawar under a moderate mujahideen which was under occasional attack for its progressive atmosphere, many tribal and ethnic groups lived there together without the strife the extremists liked to engender. And while the madrass’s funded by Saudi Arabia in the conservative camps took boys only (these were factories for producing Taliban) her camp taught girls and boys. They also had combined sports (unheard of in the other camps) which allowed the Afghan girls some real freedom and joy in play.

The period following the Soviet retreat is where Joya fills in nuanced details that are vital to our understanding, one overriding concept is that of the mujahideen being two entities- the Real, meaning the resistance fighters who fought for freedom, and the Criminal who found power, money and fundamentalism more to their taste. They fought amongst themselves for the spoils once the Soviets had been beaten, between 65,000 and 80,000 civilians were killed in Kabul by these warring criminals factions who used ethnic division to establish their brutal fiefdoms. Joya is very clear on her stance on national unity, of equality for all groups and ethnicities. This is just one of the many stances that has caused her to be treated with such hostility by the powerful forces fighting for domination.

As the civil war continued women and children became the prime victims, the warlords closed schools and rape was pervasive. This is important because the simple Western narrative holds the Taliban as the chief villains which neglects to recognise how those now in power under the auspices of US/NATO are many of the same figures who in the civil war from 92-96 committed war crimes and oppressed women (& men) who were routinely tortured and raped by the well funded warlords. In 1995 Amnesty International released a report ‘Women in Afghanistan, a Human Rights Catastrophe’ the Taliban had yet to take power.

Malalai Joya’s Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of the Afghan Woman Who Dares to Speak Out has just been published by Rider Books, all proceeds go to humanitarian projects in Afghanistan. Buy it here, here or here. Or in the US where it is called A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice, buy from Amazon.

Part 2, Part 3.

Ezra Nawi’s Sentencing Now Scheduled For 21st September

Dear friends and supporters,

Ezra’s sentencing process started this morning (Aug 16′ 2009). Ezra and the “Committee for Ezra Nawi” wish to thank and express our appreciation to all those who testified on his behalf, came to court, wrote letters or signed petitions.

As part of today’s hearing 6 witnesses testified on Ezra’s behalf and dozens of letters written by different concerned Israeli citizens were submitted to the court. Attorney Leah Tzemel also submitted the international letter of support that was signed by over 20,000 people from all over the world. The prosecution on the other hand asked the court to sentence Ezra for a lengthy incarceration. We hope the judge will take into account the amazing admiration and support for Ezra that was shown today in court.

Your love and support are strengthening Ezra during this difficult time and are encouraging him to continue his important activities.

Sentencing will take place on the 21 of September at the Peace Court at 8:30 am. Further information will be sent as the date will approach.

Thank you,

The Committee for Ezra Nawi

Posted in Authoritarianism, Human Rights. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Ezra Nawi’s Sentencing Now Scheduled For 21st September

Help Ezra Nawi


Ezra Nawi will be sentenced this Sunday. Over 19,000 people have already asked Israel not to jail him.

We will bring their signatures to the courtroom–but we need more.

His crime? Watch the video and see for yourself. Ezra tried to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region.

In the judge’s own words, Ezra was “… pushing the people into the house while encouraging them, by rebuking the police, by encouraging others to lie in front of the bulldozer, by lying in front of the bulldozer with others, and, after this, by breaking into the shack that had been evicted after the bulldozer had already started the demolition.”

The judge concluded that “the acts and behavior of the defendant constitute serious interferences that were meant to disturb the peace.”

What peace? The peace where Palestinian homes are demolished with impunity and where civil disobedience is called ‘rioting’?

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz compared his non-violent resistance to that of the Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.(1) Both went to jail for their beliefs. An Israeli judge wants to make sure that Ezra follows the same path. We need as many people as we can to send letters to the Israeli government on behalf of Ezra Nawi, this good and gentle man who should be devoting his great energy to justice and not wasting time in jail.

Please send a letter to the Consulate, to the media, to your family and friends. Take just a moment to write your letter. Do it now. And then share his name with a friend. Do it for Ezra Nawi.

Click Here To Send A Message.

Ezra Writes-

This is not the first time that I stand trial for my beliefs. But it is the first time that they will probably be able to stop me.

I always knew that many people silently supported me, and that if I ever got into trouble they would stand behind me. This moment has come.

I have been harassed and targeted throughout the years, because I embody three elements which provoke bigotry in the Israeli society: I am a homosexual, I am a Mizrahi Jew, and I devote all my time to fighting for the human rights of Arab Palestinians.

I am a simple person. I did what my heart told me to do. Looking back, I know that what my friends and I have done is changing the harsh reality of the occupation in the whole area of south Hebron. I feel that now the Israeli authorities are punishing me on a personal level.

I would like to believe that my personal adversity will inspire and motivate individuals to actively oppose the occupation.

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Help Ezra Nawi



Why Jim Webb Was In Burma

Reagan appointee (and now conservative Dem and occasional screenwriter whose ‘Rules of Engagement’ was described as “probably the most racist film ever made against Arabs by Hollywood“) the former Marine has gotten Yettaw out, but really the US agenda is …democracyChina.

He is a critic of US sanctions on Burma, Webb in his opening remarks at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Maritime & Sovereignty Disputes in Asia said-

At the pinnacle of this issue is China’s growing military, diplomatic and economic power, not only in the region but world-wide.  China’s evolution has changed the regional economic balance, and has enabled China to expand its political influence.  Across the East Asian mainland, from Burma to Vietnam, we have heard statements of concern about the impact of China’s reach.

As the United States continues its attempt to isolate Burma due to the human rights policies of its military regime, China’s influence has grown exponentially, including the recent announcement of a multi-billion dollar oil pipeline project that would enable the Chinese to offload oil obtained in the Persian Gulf and pump it to Yunnan Province, without having to transit the choke point of the Strait of Malacca.

As a maritime nation, the United States should maintain the quality and strength of its seapower—if not improve it.  The recent trajectory of American seapower is not encouraging.  When I first joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968, there were 931 combatants in the U.S. Navy.  When I served as Secretary of the Navy in 1988, this battle force numbered 569 ships.  At present, the U.S. Navy has 284 deployable battle force ships, with 42 percent of them underway today.   Although the quality of China’s 241 ships cannot match that of the United States’, that quality gap is closing.

If the United States is to remain an Asian nation, and a maritime nation, our nation’s leaders have a choice to make.  Our diplomatic corps and our military—and especially our Navy—must have the resources necessary to protect U.S. interests and the interests of our allies.  Smart power must be reinforced by military might.

The US is an Asian nation? Imperial entitlement much? I would like to hear Aung San Suu Kyi’s side of the meeting with Webb, but y’know she’s a prisoner of a military dictatorship so that’s not so easy. That’s kind of the point, Jimbo.

Comedy Gold- US Ambassador To Honduras Hugo Llorens

Not Hugo Llorens

I mentioned China once, I think I got away with it

Frankly the best evidence yet the US are saying several things while doing several different things regarding the coup, a truly brilliant piece by Belén Fernández, an excerpt (but do go and read it)

After stressing that “we realize that there is a time constraint here” and that “time is running out,” Llorens responded to a question regarding the cut-off date for Zelaya’s restoration to power by announcing that “Washington does not have deadlines. All I’m saying is that there is a sense of urgency.”

The US embassy’s role in the dissemination of information had meanwhile been covered earlier that morning with Henshaw, whose announcement that “we’ve been reporting for weeks” on violent police repression in Honduras led to the following dialogue with Maria Robinson of Global Exchange:

ROBINSON: You’re reporting to who?
HENSHAW: To the State Department.
ROBINSON: Oh, so internally.
HENSHAW: That’s what we do.
ROBINSON: Because it [the report] wasn’t up on the website.
HENSHAW: We don’t put our reports on the web.

Llorens expressed a different interpretation of embassy policy when Judy Ancel later asked him about information on current human rights violations:

LLORENS: It’s on the web page, isn’t it?

The elimination of evidence again surfaced as a theme when Llorens requested that certain contents of this morning’s meeting not be published on the internet, apparently as an indication of the level of confidence the ambassador enjoyed with us. He later reformed the request, perhaps in deference to the earlier discussion of freedom of the press, and consented that the meeting’s contents were allowed moderate exposure on the internet “but I don’t want to see it, you know, picked up in China.”

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Comedy Gold- US Ambassador To Honduras Hugo Llorens