Malalai Joya, one of Afghanistan's youngest politicians, was elected in September 2005 to represent Farah province in the 249-seat national parliament. After denouncing many fellow parliamentarians as corrupt, murdering warlords and fundamentalists, she was found guilty of violating a law forbidding lawmakers from criticizing one another. Expelled from parliament until 2009, she faces death threats and has survived assassination attempts.
The following is excerpted from a speech Joya gave November 6 at the Steelworkers Hall in Toronto.
Afghanistan has received bil lions of dollars from the international community these six years, but unfortunately most of the monies go into the pockets of the government and corrupt NGOs.
Today only 2 per cent of Afghan people have accesses to electricity, and according to official figures 60 per cent live below the poverty line.
A March 2007 survey revealed that about 60 per cent of Afghans think the current administration is more corrupt than any other in the past two decades.
I am here to leave a message with the great democratic-minded people of Canada. They must pressure their government. If Canada really wants to prove itself an honest and real friend of the Afghan people, [it] must act independently [of the U.S.] and support democratic-minded individuals and NGOs, which today are very weak in Afghanistan.
They are the future of our country, and our people trust them because they do not have blood on their hands.
There's no question that Afghanistan needs international support to rebuild itself. But history shows that no nation can donate liberation to another nation. It is the responsibility of our people to bring democracy, women's rights and human rights.
A long-lost permanent peace must be achieved by the force of our own people, even if it requires a longer time.
The international community, together with the UN, must stop countries like Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, etc that on the one hand support the Northern Alliance and on the other give arms to the Taliban.
Under the noses of thousands of U.S. troops, the biggest problem of our people is security, which is more important than food and water. Even in the capital, most people fear working for security reasons.
It was the U.S. that during the Cold War supported Islamist fundamentalists in our country. [Now] they have brought to power the fundamentalist Northern Alliance, enemies of our people. As long as the Northern Alliance are in power, there is no hope.
Once again, I'm telling you the only hope of our people is democratic-minded people around the world.
They must raise their voices, most of all for humanity in our country, where day by day our people [are squeezed] between two powerful enemies.