Editor’s Note October 7 marks the second anniversary of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the crusading Russian journalist and outspoken government critic who exposed the brutal treatment of civilians in Chechnya by Russian forces and Moscow-supported Chechen officials. Two years on, Russia shows no political will to bring her killers to justice. To honor Politkovskaya and other women like her in the world, the human rights organization Reach All Women in War (RAW in WAR), presented the second annual Anna Politkovskaya Award to Afghan politician and social activist Malalai Joya in London Monday. An elected member of the Afghan Parliament and outspoken critic of warlords and war criminals in the government, Joya was suspended from office on grounds that she had “insulted” fellow representatives in a television interview. She delivered these remarks at the London ceremony.
My own life and hardships speak for themselves about the obstacles Afghan women face today. I’ve been threatened with death; I’ve survived a number of assassination attempts; and every effort is made by the fundamentalists to silence me. But I am happy to enjoy support of the peace-loving people of the world. I am especially grateful to Reach All Women in War (RAW in WAR) for considering me for the Anna Politkovskaya Award of 2008.
I am deeply honored to receive this award, which links me to the memory of an extraordinary woman who sacrificed her life for telling the truth and fighting for justice. Her perseverance, bravery and dedication to justice inspire me. By receiving this award, I once again vow not to stop for a moment from telling the truth in the face of death threats and intimidation.
Exactly seven years ago, the United States and its allies attacked Afghanistan in the name of liberating Afghanistan and its women. Weeks after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, Laura Bush stated proudly, “Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.”
But only few days ago, a top European diplomat Francesc Vendrell warned that Afghanistan is in the worst shape since 2001. In an interview with BBC he said, “In 2002, we were being welcomed almost as liberators by the Afghans. Now we are being seen as a necessary evil.”
Seven years after the US invasion of Afghanistan, our devastated country is still chained to the fundamentalist warlords and the Taliban; the country is like an unconscious body breathing its last.
The US government and its allies exploited the plight of Afghan women to legitimate its so-called “war on terror” and attack on Afghanistan. The medieval and brutal regime of the Taliban was toppled, but instead of relying on Afghan people, the United States and its allies pushed us from the frying pan to the fire and brought the infamous criminals of the “Northern Alliance” into power–sworn enemies of democracy and human rights, who are as dark-minded, evil, anti-women and cruel as the Taliban.
Only few months ago, US National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee that 70 percent of Afghanistan is lawless. The Afghan government has control of only 30 percent of the country, and where the Taliban and local warlords hold power, there is no rule of law.