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Harper slammed for failing to support elected Afghan woman

The Canadian Peace Alliance is blaming Conservative leader Stephen Harper for his government’s silence on the case of Malalai Joya, the 30-year-old female parliamentarian suspended from the Afghan parliament in May of 2007.

"During this election campaign in Canada, we're going to be making it clear to the Conservatives it's unacceptable that they remain silent on Joya's situation," said CPA Co-Chair Christine Jones. "What the public wants is for the war to be ended now, not in 2011."

Michael Byers, NDP candidate in Vancouver Centre, said the government's evasiveness is "tragic and hypocritical."

"We're told that we're fighting in Kandahar for democracy and women's rights," he said. "But when a democratically elected woman is threatened with death and expelled from the Afghan parliament for criticizing corruption, nepotism and human right violations, suddenly the Harper government stands for nothing at all."

Both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Harper campaign failed to respond to requests for an interview.

“Canada strongly supports the development of democratic institutions of governance in Afghanistan," said Anne Howland, director of communications for retiring foreign affairs minister David Emerson, in an e-mail. "We respect the independence of Afghan lawmakers and their right to legislate within the framework of the Afghan constitution and international law. We continue to monitor this issue closely, together with our international partners, particularly given possible implications for the protection and promotion of women's rights.”

Howland did not answer a follow-up question about whether Canada had directly and publicly criticized the Afghan parliament for expelling Joya.

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