Last modified on 21 October 2014, at 13:39

Tawakkol Karman

Tawakkul Karman at Munich Security Conference, 2012

Tawakkol Karman (born 7 February 1979) is a Yemeni journalist, politician and senior member of the of Al-Islah political party, and human rights activist. She was co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

QuotesEdit

Quotes are arranged in chronological order

2000sEdit

Burning embassies is not the way, 2008Edit

Tawakkul Karman "Burning embassies is not the way" on yementimes.com. June 18, 2008.

  • We are not to call for tyranny and bans on freedom. It is obvious that we cannot stop publication of what we view as indecent in our sacred faith...failing to make use of Western freedom of press and other technologies to show the West the values of Islam is intellectual failure and a guilt that should not be linked to Islam.
  • ...The result of burning embassies and treading on flags is the self-same objective these drawings wanted to highlight. It was their intention to say that Muslims are terrorists and their religion is a peril to Western civilization.
  • I do not want to belittle or be indifferent to the insults to our prophet (pbuh). I denounce insulting our prophet and announce that my heart is filled with his love. Yet, I refuse that his position should be employed for ignoble political gains. However, I protest being used as a tool
  • The agenda of burning embassies and treading on flags has its objective, of which seeking an apology for defaming our prophet is not among them at all.

Youth Q&A on the U.N. High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda Report, 2009Edit

Tawakkul Karman "Youth Q&A on the U.N. High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda Report" on americanprogress.org. September 9, 2009.

  • Speaking of the report, I want to say that there are three key innovations of this report compared to the Millennium Development Goals. First, the call for civil and political rights combined with transparent and accountable public institutions as intrinsic to development. Second, the importance of ensuring peace and inclusive sustainable growth. And third, a need for urgent action to enhance the ability of women and youth, like you, to take part in the transformation of their societies.
  • Requiring governments to make all publicly held information and data available to people—thus giving citizens a powerful tool to expose corruption—is just one aspect of the accountability revolution that can be unleashed if the report’s recommendations are implemented in full.
  • Over the next three years, governments will have to choose whether or not to adopt this new people-centric framework for development. The temptation for political leaders to retreat to a safer, more conventional approach will mean a strong global grassroots campaign will thus be necessary to build pressure for adoption of these groundbreaking and transformative elements recommended in the report.
  • ...on youth unemployment—governments should ensure that one out of three of jobs in the public sector are opened up to the youth and that at least one person in every household should have access to a job.
  • I myself am part of the youth movement. However, after a long discussion, it appears that many of the youth demands and needs, like access to education, jobs, and equitable growth, have been addressed under different goals and targets and youth enjoy the benefits of everything else in the report.
  • In many places around the world, the LGBT community and individuals infected with HIV/AIDS continue to face discrimination in employment, political representation, and access to health care, including sexual and reproductive health care and rights. They certainly must not be left behind. I will continue to push for the inclusion of these marginalized groups in the post-2015 agenda and beyond.
  • The panel put targets, for example, on nutrition, education, ending preventable child deaths, encouraging birth registration, putting an end to violence against girls, and child marriage—all of which, if enacted, will improve the lives of billions of children throughout the world.
  • African youth, just like other youth around the world can, for example, engage in the fight against corruption and hold officials accountable...Youth can also play an important role in engaging and educating their fellow and global citizens about the post-2015 global development agenda and ways to achieve our goals so that we can achieve the developments this time around to the greatest extent possible.
  • There is a standalone goal, which is goal number two, on the empowerment of girls and women and achieving gender equality. With regards to violence against women, the panel addresses it at length and in an inclusive way...We’re hoping that this goal and set of targets will put an end into violence and discrimination against women, empower women, and achieve gender equality and justice and for the better development of our world.
  • The youth are our future, and to change anything in our world going forward we must start with this generation of youth, as they’re the new agents of change...In peacebuilding and promoting human rights, the youth are no longer a silent majority, but now they should be an active stakeholder...Youth are bringing to the table great contributions to the peace and state building and are shaping the future to be more peaceful, equal, and prosperous for all.

2010sEdit

  • Women should stop being or feeling that they are part of the problem and become part of the solution. We have been marginalized for a long time, and now is the time for women to stand up and become active without needing to ask for permission or acceptance. This is the only way we will give back to our society and allow for Yemen to reach the great potentials it has.
    • Tawakkul Karman in: "Renowned activist and press freedom advocate Tawakul Karman to the Yemen Times: 'A day will come when all human rights violators pay for what they did to Yemen.'". Yemen Times. 3 November 2011.

Tawakul Karman, Yemeni activist, and thorn in the side of Saleh, 2011Edit

Tom Finn. Tawakul Karman, Yemeni activist, and thorn in the side of Saleh: 32-year-old mother of three has faced death threats and prison, but devotion to cause has earned international acclaim." theguardian.com The Guardian, Saturday 26 March 2011

  • With two civil wars, an al-Qaida presence and 40% unemployment, what else is President Saleh waiting for? He should leave office now...This revolution is inevitable, the people have endured dictatorship, corruption, poverty and unemployment for years and now the whole thing is exploding
  • The extremist people hate me. They speak about me in the mosques and pass round leaflets condemning me as un-Islamic.
  • Our party needs the youth but the youth also need the parties to help them organise. Neither will succeed in overthrowing this regime without the other. We don't want the international community to label our revolution an Islamic one.
  • I discovered that wearing the veil is not suitable for a woman who wants to work in activism and the public domain... People need to see you, to associate and relate to you. It is not stated in my religion to wear the veil; it is a traditional practice so I took it off.
  • If you go to the protests now, you will see something you never saw before: hundreds of women. They shout and sing, they even sleep there in tents. This is not just a political revolution, it's a social revolution
  • My aim for now is to lead a peaceful revolution to remove this regime. I think if I can be in the street with the people I can achieve more than if I am the president.

Our revolution's doing what Saleh can't – uniting Yemen, 2011Edit

Tawakkul Karman "Our revolution's doing what Saleh can't – uniting Yemen" theguardian.com The Guardian, Saturday 8 April 2011 : Our revolution's doing what Saleh can't – uniting Yemen

  • So what happens when the regime falls, as it must? We are in the first stage of change in our country, and the feeling among the revolutionaries is that the people of Yemen will find solutions for our problems once the regime has gone, because the regime itself is the cause of most of them. A new Yemen awaits us, with a better future for all.
  • For the first time people in the south stopped calling for separation, raised the national flag and demanded an end to the regime. It's been truly historic. The country is united in its aim to rid itself of the regime through public vigils and rallies, civil disobedience and slogans instead of tear gas and bullets.
  • We are confident that our revolution has already succeeded and that the regime of Saleh has in effect, already collapsed.
  • We cannot let the bogeyman of al-Qaida and extremism be used to stall historic change in our country
  • Let us be clear: the Yemeni revolution has already brought internal stability to a state riddled with war and conflict.
  • I call on the United States and the European Union to tell Saleh that he must leave now...They should end all support for his regime, especially that which is used to crush peaceful opposition...They should freeze the Saleh family's assets and those of Saleh's henchmen and return them to the people.
  • If the US and Europe genuinely support the people, as they say, they must not betray our peaceful revolution. It is the expression of the democratic will of the overwhelming majority of the people of Yemen.

Yemen’s Unfinished Revolution, 2011Edit

Tawakkul Karman "Yemen's Unfinished Revolution" nytimes.com The New York Times, Saturday 18 June 2011

  • ...I have spent days and nights camped out in tents with fellow protesters; I have led demonstrations in the streets facing the threat of mortars, missiles and gunfire; I have struggled to build a movement for democratic change — all while caring for my three young children.
  • ...we chose to march in the streets demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an end to his corrupt and failed regime and the establishment of a modern democratic state...Yemen is now facing a complete vacuum of authority; we are without a president or parliament. Mr. Saleh may be gone, but authority has not yet been transferred to a transitional presidential council endorsed by the people.
  • the United States and Saudi Arabia...have instead used their influence to ensure that members of the old regime remain in power and the status quo is maintained. American counterterrorism agencies and the Saudi government have a firm grip on Yemen at the moment. It is they...that control the country.
  • American intervention in Yemen is a product of the war on terror...Because American security was given priority over all other concerns, counterterrorism agencies paid no attention to the human rights abuses being committed by their local partners...Because America has invested so heavily in Yemen’s security forces, it now seems that a transition to democracy will depend on whether Washington believes that investment will remain secure...Sadly, it seems likely that the United States will support figures from the old regime rather than allow a transitional government approved by the people to take control
  • American policy makers must understand that the activists and young people who started Yemen’s peaceful revolution deeply respect the United States and Western civilization...We call on American officials to engage with the leaders of Yemen’s democracy movement and abandon their misplaced investment in the old regime’s security apparatus
  • We understand America’s concerns about terrorism...We have no objection to agreements that protect your security interests. We only ask that you respect international standards on human rights and the Yemeni people’s rights to freedom and justice.
  • We also call upon our Saudi neighbors to let us pursue a democratic path....In many cases, Yemeni tribal leaders and other prominent individuals have received far more generous aid payments from Riyadh than from the Yemeni government...Saudi interference in Yemen is also motivated by a fear that the Arab Spring...might soon reach Riyadh
  • We ask our neighbors in Saudi Arabia to stop hindering the rule of law and healthy economic development through the purchase of politicians and tribal leaders.
  • The young people of this revolution have made their demands clear: authority must be handed over to a transitional presidential council approved by the people...Yemen’s people have charted the course of revolution and we will follow this course to its end. We have left our authoritarian past behind. Now, we ask our friends in Washington and Riyadh to help us build a democratic future.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkul Karman – A Profile, 2011Edit

Tawakkol Karman in: "Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkul Karman – A Profile." Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.752 By: C. Jacob, October 24, 2011 (online)

  • I do not believe that my brother Tariq accused me of this, and you will not drag me into talking about him or responding [to this claim]. [That said,] I do have close strategic ties with American organizations involved in protecting human rights, with American ambassadors and with officials in the U.S. State Department. [I also have ties with activists in] most of the E.U. and Arab countries. But they are ties among equals; [I am not] their subordinate.
  • ...The interim presidential council will take the reins from the ousted president and his regime...We take this possibility into account, which is why we have demanded that the interim presidential council represent all the national elements, in order to meet the demands of the youth and the people. We demand that the political elements suggest names to present to the youth, since we object to anyone seizing power after Saleh, whoever they may be. These fears exist in any revolution... Whenever officials stray from the straight path, the youth must be prepared to take to the streets in every province and shout: The people want to oust the official in charge, to hold the minister accountable, to prosecute the general.
  • There have been violations in the protest squares, especially in Sana'a. This is natural when hundreds of thousands of people [protest] for extended periods of time. However, these violations are marginal, and do not tarnish the beauty of the revolution. We see rival tribes meeting and debating in their tents, and men and women struggling [together] in the square to oust the regime.
  • What unites us in the Youth Revolution Council is the desire to oust the regime... We do not ask the members of the Council or of the Preparatory Committee about their source of authority, nor about their political, geographic, or sectarian affiliation... In this revolution, I have forgotten my partisan and geographic affiliations... I belong only to the people of the revolution. The revolution is a glorious [cause] that stands above any consideration.
  • I do not represent the Al-Islah party, and I am not tied to its positions. My position is determined by my beliefs, and I do not ask anyone's permission."
  • "...it is inappropriate for a public activist [to wear a niqab], since people want to see you. The Islamic faith does not mandate wearing a niqab; it is [just] a social tradition."

The world must not forsake Yemen's struggle for freedom, 2011Edit

Tawakkul Karman "The world must not forsake Yemen's struggle for freedom" theguardian.com The Guardian, Saturday 1 November 2011

  • We in Yemen are no less thirsty for freedom and dignity than our brothers and sisters in Tunis...It was feared that the revolution would descend into violence and distort the image of the other Arab uprisings. But the Yemeni revolution surprised everyone with its astonishingly peaceful nature...What is truly regrettable, though, is that the world has not shown the least interest in what the Saleh regime does with Yemen and its revolutionaries...We in Yemen look forward to a clear stand from the UN, world governments and civil society organisations in condemning the violence of Saleh's regime.
  • Today we need a concerted international effort that would result in freezing the assets of the ruling family, which are estimated at $10bn.
  • The least we desire from the institutions of the free world, and especially the US and the countries of the European Union, is that they appreciate our struggle for freedom. We want them to discharge their responsibilities towards vulnerable people and support them in the face of the cruelty of rulers who continue to kill.
  • In my capacity as a leader of the popular and youth revolution in Yemen, I reaffirm our adherence to the peaceful nature of our struggle until the end. At the same time, I ardently call upon the free people of the world to examine what is happening in my country and Syria especially, and to honour their responsibilities to confront rulers who do not hesitate to carry out the most heinous crimes against people who have the temerity to demand their natural rights to freedom and dignity.

Excerpts from an interview on Democracy Now!, 2011Edit

Tawakkol Karman in: "Exclusive: Nobel Laureate Tawakkul Karman on the Struggle for Women’s Rights, Democracy in Yemen." Democracy Now! By Amy Goodman, October 21, 2011 (online)

  • "I think it’s —you know, it’s victory of the value of human rights, of the value of anti-corruption, of the value of anti-dictatorship. So I don’t think that I am the only one who win this Nobel [Peace Prize].
  • I came from Yemen, the country of civilization, the Yemen that was led by two women, and it was one of the greatest countries in the world. We were led by a dictatorship regime, a corrupted regime. This regime was founded in killing others...My country has a lot of poverty, from a lot of diseases, from ignorance. And these are some of the reasons that led us to lead this revolution.
  • We started our struggle from 2005, and...we organized a lot of protests, weekly protests, in a place we called the Square of Liberty...We knew and know that the freedom of speech is the door to democracy and justice.
  • My beliefs were that men and women alike have to be in this struggle together, and we cannot safeguard our country just with one wing...Now our women are the leaders, not only political leaders, but also leaders that lead in every single front, and they are part of the main leaders of the revolution. And therefore, you can see that the rulers are afraid from women.
  • ...my people are facing difficulties. They are being killed in the streets. They are on the sidewalks for almost nine months now. As you know, they own more than 70 million machine guns. That’s their personal weapons...Personally, I’m not protected, because my people are not protected. And therefore, the international community have to provide protection, and the United States of America, as well. They have to take a clear stance with the Yemeni people.
  • ...We are in one world. We are one nation. And therefore, what’s common in between us, what should be common among us, is love and peace.
  • The international community have to create pressure on Saleh. One, they have to establish an international commission so they can investigate the killing that is happening...Without that justice, and if they leave Saleh alone, there will be no security and peace, not only in Yemen and our region, but also around the world.
  • [The killing of Gaddafi] means a lot. That means dictatorships is going down and is done, and there are a lot of scenarios for the end of those dictators...In Yemen, we will have our own scenario. We will not go in the direction of violence.
  • [In response to a question about drone strikes:] I’m sure that the new Yemen, the civilized Yemen and the democratic Yemen, it will be a Yemen without terrorism, without extremism. And we know that we’re going to be the deepest path for democracy and for peace and international security.
  • Since the start of this revolution, we were able to get rid of a lot of the issues and the problems that this regime created....We have the dream, and we have the ability. And we started to achieve a lot of our goals. And we will not stop here. We will build our country. And we’re not only talking about Yemen here. I’m talking about every nation or every people that are looking toward freedom.
  • ...we tell Saudi Arabia that they should stand with the Yemeni people. And anyone who doesn’t stand with our people, they are the losers. We know what it means to be free, and we will achieve it. And the interests of countries, it’s with the people and not with the regimes, because these regimes will be gone.
  • We were against oppression, and then we elevated our struggle to demand our rights. We will go against all the dictators, and not only Saleh in Yemen, so we can spread peace.

Nobel Prize winner highlights women’s role in Arab Spring, 2011Edit

Charlene Lerner. "Nobel Prize winner highlights women’s role in Arab Spring." michigandaily.com The Michigan Daily, Saturday 14 November 2011 : Speech at the University of Michigan, 2011

  • To begin, I am a citizen of the world. The Earth is my country, and humanity is my nation. This is my motto: What everyone has longed for and will be achieved when all of the people shall also celebrate this prize that every Yemeni, and every Arab, and every human being and every woman has also won beside me
  • Women have become at the forefront of these demonstrations and lines in protests — in the medical camps, in the security services, in the strategic planning for the revolution and the strategic planning for the civil democratic society after the revolution.
  • We need the nation of equal citizenship. We need a nation that fights corruption, a nation, a state where law rules, a nation where those who abuse their authority are questioned. We want to retrieve our nation, and we want to become citizens in a new world.
  • The people have tasted it and have made great sacrifices and will not give out...We have blazed a path for ourselves … and we will win.
  • Students’ role doesn’t end in the classroom. Student-led movements have always been a part in changing history and fulfilling peoples’ dreams of achieving freedom and dignity [interview after her speech]

Egypt's coup has crushed all the freedoms won in the revolution, 2013Edit

Tawakkul Karman "Egypt's coup has crushed all the freedoms won in the revolution" theguardian.com The Guardian, Saturday 8 August 2013

  • The most important pretext for the ousting of President Morsi was the existence of division in Egypt....My support for the 30 June movement in opposition to Morsi changed after the military coup, which went against all the gains and values of the 25 January revolution...Clearly, the leaders of the military takeover have something to conceal from the watchful eyes of the world....I now feel I have a responsibility to warn the world of the fact that a fully fledged despotic regime is seeking to reinforce its foundations in the country.
  • it has now become obvious that most of the state institutions, including the judiciary, the army, the security apparatus and most of the government departments, stood against him [Morsi]. They acted in a co-ordinated manner to foment a crisis aimed at impeding the president and forcing failure on him.
  • Perhaps one of the few positive aspects of the coup is that it has discredited the claim that that that the state had been taken over by the Brotherhood under Morsi.
  • The repercussions of the coup on nascent democracies in the Arab world will be destructive. People may soon lose faith in the democratic process, paving the way for the revival of extremist groups...The coup serves to strengthen the radicals, interrupting the course of peaceful change.
  • The popular rallies at Rabaa al-Adawiya and other squares across Egypt will defeat despotism and terrorism in the long run. But in the meantime, any solution that fails to restore the public's confidence in the ballot box and falls short of alleviating the sense of victimhood in the Morsi camp will be doomed to failure.

Morsy is the Arab World's Mandala, 2013Edit

Tawakkul Karman "Morsy Is the Arab World's Mandela" on foreignpolicy.com. August 9, 2013

  • Soon after the military coup that deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy, I announced that I would join the pro-Morsy demonstration outside of Cairo's Rabaa al-Adaweya square...I wished to protest the killing, forcible disappearance, and jailing of coup opponents...I declared publicly that I was going to Rabaa al-Adaweya to defend the gains of the Jan. 25, 2011, revolution -- freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and the right of the people to select their rulers
  • The Egyptian officers informed me that I would be denied entry, and I was soon deported back to Yemen on the same plane on which I had arrived. The authorities gave me no clear answer why: They said that I knew the reason for my deportation better than them, and that my name had been blacklisted based on the request of a security body.
  • Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to stand in person with the protesters outside Rabaa al-Adaweya square to echo their legitimate demands...Egypt's current regime has ousted the first elected president in the country's history...There are limited options for those of us who care about Egypt's future: We can either side with civil values and democracy, or with military rule, tyranny, and coercion
  • Morsy was not only Egypt's democratically elected president, he is now emerging as the Arab world's Nelson Mandela...during Morsy's one-year reign, Egypt enjoyed freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate peacefully, and not a single one of his political opponents were jailed.
  • Despite being subjected to killing, arrest, and oppression, Morsy's supporters have held fast to the democratic process and prevented Egypt from descending into civil war.
  • I am not blind to the shortcomings of the previous government: Before the coup, I supported the June 30 rallies against Morsy....The military takeover aims to uproot the Muslim Brotherhood and its partners, replacing them through brute force with the losers of a democratic ballot
  • Democracy can't thrive under military rule -- history is quite clear on this point...The police state is back, and it is even worse than Hosni Mubarak's. What is happening in Egypt today is very scary: The coup could lead society to lose its faith in democracy, which will give terrorist groups a chance to breathe again...By blocking peaceful change and weakening the Islamist groups that participate in the political process, the coup leaders support this stance and do the terrorists a favor.
  • All the ousted regimes, as well as the oppressive regimes that have hung on during the Arab Spring, have now blessed Egypt's coup...a blossoming democracy in Cairo can easily spread throughout the Arab world...Those who support freedom and democracy in the Middle East, however, should resist the new tyranny in Cairo with all their might.

Quotes about KarmanEdit

  • "I visited Karman’s home earlier this year, while reporting a piece for The New Yorker. On her mantle sit the photographs of four people: Martin Luther King, Jr.; Mahatma Gandhi; Nelson Mandela; and Hillary Clinton. The first three, of course, are apostles of non-violent change. Karman told me that if her movement had a playbook it was Mandela’s autobiography. Karman idolizes Clinton because she is a strong woman—“she is my role model”—but also because of Clinton’s support for her...Early on in the protests, Saleh tried to silence Karman the way people do in societies dominated by men: by appealing to a male member of her family...She is still in mortal danger. But the canvas tent where Karman makes her home is surrounded by thousands of others now, and by tens of thousands of Yemenis who responded to her call."
  • "Tawakkol Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition of her work in nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peacebuilding work in Yemen...Karman is a mother of three as well as a human rights activist, journalist, politician, and senior member of the Al-Islah political party...A journalist by profession and human rights activist by nature...In 2007, Tawakkol began organizing weekly protests in Yemen’s capitol, Sana’a, targeting systemic government repression and calling for inquiries into corruption and other forms of social and legal injustice...Bold and outspoken, Tawakkol has been imprisoned on a number of occasions for her pro-democracy, pro-human rights protests...Fiercely committed to change, Tawakkol spends the majority of her time in a tent in Change Square, where she continues her peaceful protests for justice and freedom."
  • "Tawakkol Karman...seems to have lost her grip on reality...she does not seem to understand that she is now a global figure...She employs a parochial mentality when dealing with her Facebook page, exhibiting no restraint in her discussion of Yemeni issues. Her views are influenced by her party, the fundamentalist Yemeni Congregation for Reform, known as Islah...Every day, Karman suffers losses because of the inappropriate way she uses Facebook. One of the worst incidents took place after she was chosen to be a member of the technical committee to coordinate an inclusive national dialogue....Karman wanted to be the official spokesperson for the committee, but they told her that this will be determined by open elections which included another candidate, the women’s rights activist, Amal al-Basha...It seems that the Nobel winner needs to reevaluate her modus operandi to avoid similar losses."
  • "[She has] became the international public face of Yemen’s Arab Spring uprising. After weathering multiple arrests and assassination attempts, Karman was named a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent work advocating for women’s rights and democratic reform. She was the first Arab woman to receive the honor and the youngest laureate to date."

External linksEdit

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