Afghan Woman Loya Jirga Delegate Under UN Protection

Facing threats after she spoke out the appointment of mujahideen commanders to committee chair positions at Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga, Malalai Joya, a delegate from Farah Province, was placed under United Nations’ protection. According to the Associated Press, Joya spent the night at the U.N. compound. UN security personnel accompanied Joya throughout today’s Loya Jirga session.

On Tuesday, Joya on the floor of the Loya Jirga questioned, “Why have you again selected as committee chairmen those criminals who have brought these disasters for the Afghan people. In my opinion, they should be taken to the world court.”

After Joya spoke, former mujahideen fighters rushed toward the stage and Joya shouting “Death to Communists” and “God is Great.” Amnesty International observers reported that some people at the Loya Jirga were overheard vowing to kill her, according to the New York Times.

Loya Jirga Chair Sebaghattullah Mojeddidi, an ally of President Karzai, initially asked for Joya’s removal from the floor, condemning her behavior as “rude.” Other delegates intervened and Joya was allowed to remain. Earlier in the week, Mojeddidi angered women delegates when he told them that they should not protest that no women delegates were elected to deputy positions because a woman was only worth half the value of a man.

Although women comprise some 20 percent of delegates, they have largely been excluded from leadership positions at the Loya Jirga. When no woman was elected as a deputy, Mojeddidi was forced to create an additional post and appoint Safia Seddiqi. However, none of the ten committee chairs who will oversee discussions on different articles on the constitution, including those pertaining to women_s rights and human rights, are women.

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AP 12/18/03; New York Times 12/18/03

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