Afghanistan: Our Struggle for Freedom Continues

Twenty years after the US launched their invasion and war, the people of my long-suffering country are right back where we started. After trillions of dollars spent, and hundreds of thousands killed and displaced, the Taliban flag is once again flying over Afghanistan.

As the youngest woman elected to Afghanistan’s Parliament back in 2005, my experience reflects the failure of the US and NATO war – a policy that used women’s rights as a pretext for occupation but only managed to empower the most corrupt forces in our society.

I have faced several assassination attempts because I spoke out and condemned the presence of warlords and criminals in the Afghan government installed by the US occupation. Then I was kicked out of Parliament entirely and forced to live an underground existence.

Back to Where We Started

The rise, and now the return, of the Taliban, and the ideological brothers of these extremists such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, and dozens of other terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, is the result of decades of foreign intervention and corruption which has turned the hope of life and a relatively bright future into a terrible nightmare for our helpless compatriots. For 20 years now, I have given voice to my people’s struggle for freedom, independence, prosperity, and social justice, and I have always been on the edge of protest against the Jihadi-Taliban fundamentalists of every stripe and their bloodthirsty foreign masters. For more than four decades, these fundamentalists were mercenaries and creatures of the infernal organizations of the CIA, Mossad, MI6, Wawak/Savak, and ISI, who killed our defenseless and innocent people and drove people from their homes.

The biggest treason of the US against the Afghan nation is the submission of Afghanistan to the Taliban through a shameful deal helped by the puppet regime of Ashraf Ghani. With this action and giving amnesty and international recognition, in the name of a peace agreement, to terrorist Taliban who are on the UN blacklist as wanted criminals, the US proved once more that it has an inseparable bond with its lackeys. The same treason was committed 20 years ago in Afghanistan after 9/11. The US replaced the barbaric Taliban regime, who were responsible for the savage civil war from 1992-1996, with fundamentalist warlords and some western technocrats.

Now, once again, they have brought the Taliban to power under the name of a so-called “peace.” In fact, history has been repeated in Afghanistan, and they have disrespected and betrayed the values of democracy. This brutal war is far from over because a sinister power dealing with a savage group that is armed and supported by foreign intelligence agencies will never bring peace, and peace without justice is meaningless.

Looking back on history, the US regime has committed war crimes throughout their engagement, and they did so even in their last operation in Afghanistan by shooting into the crowds waiting at the airport, killing and wounding more than 40 Afghans and several other desperate people who fell from a military plane. They launched rockets from the airport into residential areas in the name of targeting ISIS, and as a result, killed nine innocent Afghans, including women and children.

US – Taliban Deal

Everyone knows the Taliban came to power in a disgraceful American deal. Otherwise, how could the US government and the Ghani regime have completely disintegrated overnight with all these military facilities and 20 years of support from the so-called international community. This is perhaps the ugliest and most painful tragedy of the past 50 years, during which the CIA and other foreign intelligence and military forces have humiliated and tortured our freedom-loving nation and left it in the mouth of a rabid dragon.

Less than two months into this new Taliban regime, we can already see the brutality they will unleash against our people. Prominent examples are the bombing and destruction of large areas of Panjshir and the deliberate and targeted killings of Panjshiris, summary executions, forced relocation of Panjshir residents, brutal repression of demonstrations, the use of torture, the disappearance of many journalists and social activists, the disappearance of a number of young protesters, whose fate is still unknown, and dozens of other tragic cases that have been recorded under this deadly regime of savage murderers. I have said many times in the past, and I repeat now, that the Taliban have not changed, nor have they become moderate, soft-spoken, or humane. Whatever public relations the “new” Taliban attempt, do not doubt the brutality with which they will again destroy the valuable pillars of the society.

In addition to the US and its nefarious interests, regional powers have long been interested in intervention in our country and wanted to occupy or control Afghanistan – especially China, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran. Each of these countries has its own specific strategic interests, completely for their own benefit. Furthermore, countries like the U.K., Germany, Turkey, Qatar, France, and many others have contributed to the instability of Afghanistan by pushing it back into the dark ages for their own political, economical, and military interests.

Taliban Misogyny

Women’s rights under the Taliban regime are non-existent and will include torture, beating with lashes, forced marriages, stoning, banning of music, deprivation of basic lifestyle choices, exclusion from education and jobs, and many other injustices that show their misogynous and inhumane nature. A clear recent example is the women covered from head to toe in black Hijab at the University of Kabul and in the streets in Kunduz, Faryab, and Kabul, who blindly came on stage with the slogan “Death to Democracy and Long Live the Emirate.” Although the Taliban brutally persecuted Negars, Razias, and dozens of other girls and women, they can never silence the call for women’s liberation and equality. Widespread protests against the bigoted and corrupt ideology of the Taliban have begun with the actions of progressive and fearless women. These incredible displays of courage are a source of hope for further effective action and the nationwide women’s movement.

This catastrophic situation has led to the loss of jobs for many men and women, and at the same time, inflation has risen, which will further increase extreme poverty. Looking at the streets of Kabul, Herat, and Balkh, all we see are long queues of people selling their household appliances to provide the basics for their families. It is heartbreaking to see that some families have even had to sell their beloved children or their own kidneys or commit suicide because they could not feed their children.

Banks were closed for a while after the Taliban takeover, and people now have only limited access to their own money. In the absence of salaries, many former government employees spend hard and exhausting days searching for a means of survival or risk death for a chance at illegal immigration. Most health workers have left their jobs or turned to precarious work outside their field. The value of the Afghan currency has plummeted to an all-time low in 20 years, and the $9-billion of capital frozen by US criminal bullies has deepened the current catastrophe, causing our oppressed people to struggle every day.

I have repeatedly emphasized that the only way to save Afghanistan and to get rid of this catastrophic situation is solidarity among the progressive, democratic, and secular forces. If we want to have an independent, democratic, and prosperous Afghanistan in which men and women have equal rights, people need strong solidarity to be free of fundamentalists and any foreign interventions. For two decades I have been repeatedly saying that “no nation can give liberation to another nation.” Now I insist again that a nation’s liberation can be achieved only by nations themselves.

Afghans are a courageous and determined people, and even in these dark hours for our country we will find new ways to unite and fight for our liberation. International solidarity and support are crucial at this time. Do not forget the women of Afghanistan just because the US and other NATO troops have gone home. We are more determined than ever to unite in order to make sure that one day the true flag of our country will fly over an independent and free Afghanistan. •

This article first published on the Il Manifesto Global website.

Malalai Joya was the youngest woman elected to the Afghan Parliament in 2005. She completed a cross-Canada book tour (in 2009) in support of her political memoir, written with Vancouver writer and activist Derrick O'Keefe, A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice.