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Yemen Overshadows Nobel Ceremony

Published: 11/12/2011 01:32:52 PM GMT
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OSLO - Receiving the Noble Peace Prize in Oslo, Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman has blasted the international community for not providing enough support (more)

OSLO - Receiving the Noble Peace Prize in Oslo, Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman has blasted the international community for not providing enough support for the uprising in her country, offering the Yemeni president immunity shield following months of heavy crackdown on peaceful protesters, Agence France Presse reported.

"There should be no immunity for killers who rob the food of the people," Karman said during the acceptance speech given at a lavish prize ceremony in a flower-decked Oslo city hall, where she shared the stage with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Liberian "peace warrior" Leymah Gbowee.

The lack of international understanding for this and its lacking support and attention for the Yemeni people's struggle "should haunt the world's conscience," she said, according to an English translation of her speech given in Arabic.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has confronted 10-month-old protest calling for an end to his 33-year rule.

The long-running political crisis triggered violence that killed thousands of people since late January, causing the collapse of security situation and the economic sector in the impoverished country.

Last October 21, the UN Security Council passed a resolution urging embattled Saleh to hand over power in exchange for immunity.

The resolution drew fierce criticism as giving Saleh immunity prize for stepping down after killing hundreds of Yemeni people.

"It is not enough," Karman lamented in an interview with AFP shortly after the Nobel ceremony.

"Until now, (the international community) hasn't seized the money of Ali Saleh and they haven't taken his case to the ICC (International Criminal Court), or even created the investigative committee that they talked about in (UN) resolution 2014," she added.

While calling for more support for the "Arab Spring" uprisings, Karman stressed she was opposed to the use of military force to further the cause.

"I don't prefer any military solution," she said.

Back to Tent

At the lavish prize ceremony, Karman said she herself intended to return to her tent in Sanaa's Change Square, where she moved with her husband in March.

"There's no better place than a tent," she said.

Camping there for months with thousands of peaceful Yemeni protesters, Karman was determined to continue her peaceful protest and not leave until Yemen "has built good institutions that guarantee human rights and democracy."

Karman has played a key part in protests in Yemen that led President Saleh to agree last month to step down.

The star of Karman rose in Yemen after the peace activist was detained briefly during early days of revolution.

She became a key figure among the youth activists since they began camping out in 'Change Square' in central Sanaa in February demanding the end of Saleh's three-decade family rule.

Seeing hope in the future, Karman voiced unwavering optimism that the "Arab Spring" uprisings would succeed using peaceful means, in her country and even in Syria.

"People can attain all their goals ... by peace. You can't take down a dictatorship without peace," she told AFP.

“If they start with violence, they will end with violence."

A member of the opposition Al-Islah party, Karman stressed that the birth of democracy from the Arab Spring needs hard work from all sides.

"All of that is just hard labor during the birth of democracy which requires support and assistance, not fear and caution," she said.

A day earlier, the activist said that Islam is no threat to democracy.

"Don't be afraid of any religion, of Islam or Christianity or Judaism," she told AFP.

"All the religions respect democracy, they respect human rights, they respect anti-corruption, all the values that we are struggling for."

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