Women’s rights activist and lawmaker Malalai Joya, a 29-year-old from the Farah province, was suspended from the Afghan Parliament yesterday after she described the Parliament as a barn full of animals. Joya is known for infuriating former mujahedeen fighters that now hold seats in the legislative body” some elected and some appointed by US-supported President Hamid Karzai” by openly accusing them of being criminals. Lawmakers threw water bottles at her after she gave a speech last May calling some of her colleagues warlords.
Lawmakers in Afghanistan are not permitted to criticize each other under Article 70 of the Parliament’s rules. Joya feels the rule was created as a “political conspiracy” against her. According to the Associated Press, Joya said, “Since I’ve started my struggle for human rights in Afghanistan, for women’s rights, these criminals, these drug smugglers, they’ve stood against me from the first time I raised my voice.” Joya interrupted Afghanistan’s constitutional convention to insist that the mujahideen were responsible for the country’s civil war. She has received numerous death threats since then.
The Parliament did not hold a formal vote to oust Joya, instead raising colored cards in favor of suspending her, but it is not clear if she can appeal the decision. Joya told reporters that she will not abandon her fight for women’s rights. “I’m not alone,” she said. “The international community is with me and all the Afghan people are with me.”