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In Jamaica Plain, visiting Afghan activist denounces US-led war

Former lawmaker says foreign forces increase violence

By David Abel
Globe Staff / March 27, 2011

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Afghan activist Malalai Joya, after initially being denied a visa to the United States for a three-week speaking tour, appeared in Boston yesterday and denounced the US-led war in Afghanistan, contending that the Obama administration’s surge of forces has led to only “more massacres, more tragedy, more violence.’’

She said she believes US officials banned her because “I exposed what the US government was doing in my country, and how most of the money goes into the pockets of the warlords. I think this is something the people in the White House and the warlords don’t want to hear.’’

She added: “I will not be silent for a moment, and they can never block my voice.’’

Joya, 32, was elected to the Afghan Parliament when she was 26, the youngest woman ever elected to the new body. In 2007, she was expelled for causing “insult’’ to fellow lawmakers and has been in hiding after assassination attempts.

According to her supporters, Joya was told by a consular official a week ago that she was denied entry to this county because she was unemployed and “lived underground.’’ After letters and petitions from supporters, members of Congress, and others, the State Department granted her a visa on Thursday.

Joya’s speaking tour began Friday at Harvard University, on what she said was her fifth trip to the United States. She spoke to several hundred yesterday at First Church in Jamaica Plain, where she got a standing ovation.

She said she did not fear a US troop withdrawal, which Obama has said would occur by 2014. “We have three enemies: the warlords, the Taliban, and foreign occupation. When the occupation ends, we’ll only have two.’’

Joya said Americans could help more if the hundreds of billions now spent on the war were used for education. The Obama administration has sought $107 billion for the Afghan war in the fiscal 2012 budget.

“It’s already a civil war,’’ she said. “Nobody’s talking about the brutal war that’s already going on. When the [US forces] leave, the backbone of the warlords will break. . . . As long as the warlords are in power, there’s no hope to change the life of women in my country.’’

She ended her talk in Jamaica Plain by raising her fist into the air.

David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com.