News Release

Malala and the Courage of Speaking Against Drone Killing

Share Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai has been widely covered recently for fighting against the repression of the Taliban. However, the media watch group FAIR notes that a critical part of her recent visit with President Obama “didn’t register in a corporate media that followed Malala’s visit, and her story, very closely.”

FAIR cites an exceptional piece by McClatchy, “Malala Yousafzai Tells Obama Drones Are ‘Fueling Terrorism.’

[In related news, the Washington Post reports: “Documents Reveal NSA’s Extensive Involvement in Targeted Killing Program.” The New York Times notes that Jeh Johnson, expected to be nominated today to head the Department of Homeland Security, “during his tenure at the Defense Department … shaped the Obama administration’s policies on the detention of terrorism suspects and on targeted drone strikes…” The Voice of America reports: “Drones, Afghanistan to Top Agenda During Pakistani Leader Trip to Washington.”]

MALALAI JOYA, via Sonali Kolhatkar, sonali at
Available for a limited number of interviews, Joya is author of the book A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Woman Who Dared to Speak Out. She is on a speaking tour in the U.S. until the middle of next week.

Owais Tohid in the Christian Science Monitor, reported last year that Malala Yousafzai said of Joya: “I want to be a social activist and an honest politician like her.”

Joya was the youngest woman ever elected to the Afghan parliament in 2005. She has survived numerous assassination attempts and in 2007 was suspended from the Afghan Parliament because of her criticisms of warlords, fundamentalists and the NATO occupation of Afghanistan. See her statement following the attack on Yousafzai: “The Courage to Say No to Misogyny.”

Joya said today: “I admire the courage of Malala Yousafzai. She fortunately has a consciousness to stand up for her rights and the rights of women to say no to the misogyny of the Taliban. I am happy that she strongly believes in the power of education. It is part of my message to the world to empower our people educationally as a key against occupation, against extremist fundamentalists for justice, peace and democracy.

“My advice to Malala as her ‘older sister’ in this struggle is that fighting against misogynist terrorists is incomplete or meaningless if she does not extend that to their foreign masters like the U.S. government. She should more strongly raise her voice against the drone attacks. Malala should know all the realities of the so-called War on Terror or the empty banner of ‘hope and change’ of Obama. She should know that the Taliban were brainwashed in Pakistani madrassas with the support of the U.S. CIA. She should fight not only against extremist fundamentalists but also against the Western governments and warmongers. Otherwise the struggle will not be complete.”

Sonali Kolhatkar is co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, which, along with the United National Antiwar Committee, is sponsoring Joya’s U.S. tour.

HUMNA BHOJANI, humna.bhojani at, @bhojanio
Bhojani recently wrote in the piece “Dear President Obama, What Have You Fixed by Meeting Malala?“: “Thank you for your meeting with an impressive young lady from my country, and for showing concern over the citizens of Pakistan. … The Pakistani public very much appreciates your sympathy and support for Malala, who was shot by your enemy, the Taliban. It’s heart-wrenching when Pakistani children get hurt, no? Or is it only heart-wrenching when Pakistani children get hurt by the Taliban? What of Pakistani children who get hurt as a result of the actions of your military or your CIA? What of the Pakistani children who get hurt because of your country’s involvement here?

“Since your country started the drone program in 2004, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that as of August 1, 2012 between 482 and 849 civilians have been killed by drones in Pakistan. Many of these are children. That estimate represents the full range of civilian casualties credibly reported in reliable sources, some of which the TBIJ has corroborated with it’s in own field investigations in Pakistan. In fact, between 2006 and 2009 alone, a leaked document by the Pakistani government estimates 147 civilian deaths, 94 of which were children.

“As you probably noticed, these numbers do not include those children who were injured.

“A year ago on October 24th, two children — 13-year-old Zubair and 9-year-old Nabila — were injured by a CIA drone strike. On Oct. 26 of this year, these brave survivors are coming to D.C. to testify before Congress. Won’t you also invite them to the White House, Mr President? Won’t you smile for a photo with them? Won’t you tell them about the billions of American dollars spent on wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan?”