The winner of RAW in WAR’s second annual Anna Politkovskaya Award is Malalai Joya from Afghanistan. Malalai Joya (30) was the youngest elected member of Afghanistan’s national parliament in 2005 and past elected delegate for Afghanistan’s historic constitutional assembly, the Loya Jirga. At the age of 25, she spoke out against ex-mujahedeen warlords, who dominated Afghanistan’s constitutional assembly and now are members of the country’s national parliament.
Her life has been in danger ever since she spoke in the Loya Jirga in 2003 and challenged the warlords by demanding that they were brought to justice for the crimes they committed against civilians, in particular women, in Afghanistan. Despite the dangers she faces, Joya continues to fight against the warlords and says that no amount of intimidation will stop her efforts.
On 21 May 2007 she was indefinitely suspended after she criticised the parliament for failing to accomplish enough for the Afghan people, saying,
“A stable or a zoo is better [than the legislature], at least there you have a donkey that carries a load and a cow that provides milk. This parliament is worse than a stable or a zoo”
Since 2003, when she became a public face in politics, and emerged as a leading fighter for women’s rights, Malalai Joya has received many death threats and survived four assassination attempts. She moves from house to house on a daily basis to avoid attacks. In April 2008, the Ministry of Interior refused to issue Joya passport and added her name to a list of persons banned from leaving Afghanistan. Today, she works for the Organization for Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities and raises money for humanitarian projects for Afghan women, including a hospital and a school in her province.
Since receiving the award in October in 2008, Malalia has visited numerous countries around the world to give talks and engage in debates about the political situation in Afghanistan. In 2009, her book, Raising My Voice, was published. The same year, while travelling around the US and Canada, she attended anti-war rallies and gatherings calling for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
In 2010, the New Statesman placed Malalai Joya on the list of ‘The 50 people who matter today’ – to quote:
“Joya is a symbol of opposition, not just against the Taliban and misogyny, but against corruption and imperialism. She is one of the few symbols of hope for Afghanistan’s future”