from the JULY 2010 Gwangju News, photos and Story by Doug Stuber http://www.gwangjunewsgic.com/online/about-us-2/
For readers still wondering if Gwangju could possibly be effected by world events, the return of Malalai Joya (a former Gwangju Human Rights Award winner) to this year’s Human Rights Forum, hosted by the 518 Foundation, provided a first-hand account about the chaos and human disaster unfolding in Afghanistan. “Before the US arrived to inflict ‘democracy,’ Afghanistan lived under fear of a brutal Taliban regime.
Now, with democracy there are three human rights offenders: the US Army, Karzai and his drug lord friends, and the Taliban. The situation for women is terrible, but the US used the Taliban’s forced wearing of Burqa’s and women’s issues to gain support for a war that has made our situation much worse,” Joya said as she first sat down to lunch at the Kim Dae Jeong Convention Center, four years after winning the Gwangju Human Rights Award.
Joya, who was a duly elected member of Afghanistan’s Parliament before being expelled, has survived five assassination attempts, the wrath of senior Islamic officials, and is a polarizing figure in Afghanistan, as the seated government of Hamid Karzai have attempted to mute Joya perhaps because she repeatedly points out that the Karzai government was founded on war, and is aiding the United States in continuing a war that has killed thousands of civilians. If antagonism, armed attacks and provocations continue between North and South Korea, there is little doubt that the Unites States would be involved if war ever broke out on this peninsula.
The ROK Armed forces are still under the control of the US Army, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been straightforward in her warnings to North Korean President Kim Jung-Il since the sinking of the ROK Navy corvette Cheonan in March. The US Navy, in the form of an aircraft carrier and six support ships arrived at the border waters in very short order, providing those who had forgotten, immediate evidence that a large portion of the US Navy is floating around China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Though seemingly over-worked in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, the US armed forces bear observing in our neighborhood too. While wearing a “U.S. Out of Afghanistan” button, Joya returned to the podium this year full of heart-wrenching stories.
“There is no hope for human rights, womens’ rights or democracy when Afghanistan is occupied by the United States. After 911 the US has made a war against the people of Afghanistan. It is a war of propaganda in which a ‘good job’ means a day in which civilians died,” Joya said. “Foreigners have given the tools of government to famous drug traffickers. We live in a hell three-quarters infected by fundamentalists.
The government has released from jail key members of the Taliban recently.” Since winning the 2006 Prize, Joya has continually used her knowledge of the May 18th struggle for democracy in Gwangju to motivate those seeking true democracy in Afghanistan. “You motivate me to fight with the same determination and steadfastness against enemies of humanity in my ill-fated country which was demonstrated by the freedom-loving people in Korea and Gwangju.
The cycle of violence is not over under US domination, and cluster bombs and depleted uranium bombs have been used against innocent people. Widespread abuse and restrictions on freedom continue, where women are attacked with acids if they are seen not fully covered (by Burqas), where laws still suppress women, and a country as the UN put it, becoming a “Narco-State” under the Northern Alliance drug mafia. If Joya’s contention is correct, that Karzai and others in the parliament and cabinet of Afghanistan are, in fact, drug lords, the chances to untangle Afghanistan and make it safe for peaceful freedom-loving families can not be solved militarily.
“Democracy never came by the bomb,” Joya continued from stage. “The imposed war has been an obstacle to true democratic movements, our education system and the road toward human rights in Afghanistan.” Joya moves from one place to the other at all times these days. She can use the hated Burqa as a way to stay unknown. She has a group of supporters and a well-knit movement is building to change the fate of Afghanistan, she said. “The silence of good people is as bad as the bad acting bad.” She implores people to learn more at http://www.malalaijoya.com Here in contemporary Korea, the Lee government wisely downplayed the Cheonan sinking, at great risk to his personal standing as a politician.
This allowed cooler heads to prevail, as the ROK armed forces never overreacted, nor headed calls in the western media for immediate counter attacks. This greatly reduces the risk of any armed conflict here. Whether in Joya’s Afghanistan or among western English teaches and Koreans, “citizen diplomacy” in which people become friends personally, and a long way away from what their governments are doing, goes a long way to build communities that can work together to solve problems, be they large or small. Gwangju remains a place that both symbolizes great movements in the past, and welcomes a continually swelling number of students and workers from overseas via the GIC and international events like the World Music Festival coming up August 27-29, and the Gwangju Biennale set for September 3 to November 11th.
Again, to learn more about Afghanistan’s current events than you might got on CNN, Click to: http://www.malalaijoya.com