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Vocal Afghani war critic in Boston

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By James F. Smith, The Boston Globe, October 26, 2009

US/Canada version of Joya's book

She has been called the bravest woman in Afghanistan. She was kicked out of the country's Parliament for criticizing it. She has survived four assassination attempts. She is perhaps the most outspoken critic of the power that warlords still hold over the Afghan government. And she says Afghanistan does not need American or other foreign troops to solve her country's problems.

People in the Boston area will be able to hear Malalai Joya speak about her life and her views at several events this week coinciding with the publication of her brand new book, "A Woman Among Warlords."

Joya appears at a public forum at MIT on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m., Oct. 30, in building 10, room 250, 77 Massachusetts Avenue. She will be at the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard Kennedy School on Friday, October 30 at 2:30 p.m. And she will speak at Emerson College on Friday at 7 p.m., in the Bordy Auditorium. Finally, she will speak on Saturday, Oct. 31, at 2 p.m. in Dorchester at 91 Lyndhurst Street.

Shelagh Foreman, of Massachusetts Peace Action, notes that Joya is a former teacher "who set up secret schools for girls, an orphanage and free clinic in her impoverished home province of Farah during the Taliban era. She ran for parliament in 2005 to protect her schools and won, becoming the youngest person elected to Afghanistan's new Parliament at the age of 27. In
2007, she was suspended from Parliament for her persistent criticism of warlords and drug barons and their overwhelming presence in the Parliament."

Mass Peace Action has long opposed the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lately has stepped up its opposition to increasing the number of US troops in Afghanistan, as President Obama is now under pressure to do. The group is part of United For Justice and Peace, the coalition of anti-war groups in the greater Boston area, which has details of Joya's events on its web site.

Joya is just beginning a nationwide tour to discuss her book. She will appear at the National Press Club in Washington on Monday, and will be in California later next week.