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Malalai Joya, a former member of Afghanistan's parliament and an advocate for women's rights, addressed a Salomon 101 crowd Sunday afternoon, speaking about corruption in the national government, the role of women in Afghan society and U.S. involvement in her country.

Elected to the parliament in 2005, Joya was expelled from the body after denouncing the presence of war criminals within the Afghan government. She stirred controversy with similar claims in 2003, when she was a delegate to the Constitutional Ratification Convention.

Joya described a society in which rights for women are virtually nonexistent, saying Afghan women scarcely enjoy more freedom today than they did under the Taliban's regime.

She said that eight years after the fall of the Taliban, women are still required to wear burqas outside, and that rape and murder of women is still common in Afghanistan.
She described, as an example, an incident in which three men — including the son of an MP — raped a young girl without facing any repercussions.

Joya also blasted corruption within the Afghan government, accusing it of being made up of thugs — many of whom are either involved in the opium-trafficking trade or are members of the Taliban.

"Day by day, they prove to the world that they are mentally similar to the Taliban," she said. "They replaced the Taliban with warlords and criminals."

On the subject of the recent Afghan elections, Joya denied the legitimacy of the official results, calling the vote "the most ridiculed election in the world."

She also accused the government of engineering a massive fraud campaign to fix the election results.

"It is not important who is voting, it is important who is counting," she said.

She criticized both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his main rival, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Abdullah, saying that both men "betrayed our people… and are hated by Afghans."

Joya also called upon the United States to remove its forces from Afghanistan. The longer American troops stay in Afghanistan, she said, the worse the internal situation will be, and added that American soldiers only serve to prop up an unpopular government that does not have the support of the Afghan people.

She criticized President Obama for continuing with the policies of George W. Bush, whom she called a "war criminal."

"No nation can donate liberation to another nation," Joya said. "History shows we will never accept occupation."

After concluding her address, Joya took questions from the audience, including one from an American soldier who asked what would happen to Afghanistan's internal security if U.S. forces were immediately withdrawn.

Joya replied that despite the presence of Americans, there is already little stability, accusing the media of not telling the truth about the current situation within the country.

Despite her bleak take on the current condition of Afghanistan, she concluded on a note of hope with a quotation from Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."



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