Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Human Rights Watch: Reinstate Malalai

From Human Rights Watch:

Afghanistan: Reinstate Malalai Joya in Parliament
Suspension of Female MP One Year Ago Is Setback for Democracy

NEW YORK, May 21 – One year after her illegal suspension, the Afghan parliament should reinstate Malalai Joya to office, Human Rights Watch said today...

“Afghanistan is requesting billions of dollars in assistance from donors next month and presenting itself as an emerging democracy,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “If Malalai Joya remains suspended for exercising her right to free expression and has to keep moving around because of threats for which the government does nothing, what does this say about the state of human rights and democracy?”

Malalai is an outspoken human rights activist who has publicly criticized warlords and drug barons in Afghanistan. At 29, she is the youngest member of the Wolesa Jirga. In 2003, she gained international attention for speaking out publicly against warlords elected to the constitutional assembly and involved in drafting the Afghan constitution. Two years later, she was the top vote-getter from Farah province in Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections.

Since 2003, Malalai has received many death threats. She moves from house to house on a daily basis to avoid attacks...

"Instead of branding her a criminal, the Afghan government should be demanding that parliament reinstate Malalai and arresting the people threatening her life," said Adams. "This is a real test for President Hamid Karzai to show donors that women – even outspoken women – have a role to play in Afghan politics and in the rebuilding of Afghanistan." (link)
The NDP's Alexa McDonough reminds us of Joya's Harper connection:
Over the past year, the Harper government has deliberately avoided several opportunities to address Malalai Joya's mistreatment.

By chance, Prime Minister Harper was in Afghanistan on the day of her expulsion, yet raised no objection to the lack of fair parliamentary process. At the time, I wrote the Prime Minister, urging him to express concern about Ms. Joya's arbitrary, undemocratic treatment. The Foreign Affairs Minister's only response was to invoke the "independence of Afghan lawmakers" as an excuse for Canada washing its hands of any responsibility... (link)

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