The international community has not provided enough support for the uprising in Yemen, “Arab Spring” activist Tawakkol Karman lamented after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Saturday.
The activist who spent months camped out in Sanaa’s Change Square and helped push 33-year-ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh to agree to step down early next year said the world “has to do more than what they have done” to boost the struggle for democracy in her country.
“It is not enough,” she lamented in an interview with AFP shortly after the 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.
“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,” Karmen said.
That resolution, condemning the widespread human rights abuses in Yemen and the violent crackdown on demonstrators that has cost hundreds of lives and calling for Saleh to resign, was passed unanimously by the United Nations Security Council on October 21.
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.
She meanwhile said she herself intended to soon return to her tent in Sanaa’s Change Square, where she moved with her husband in March to escape harassment by the regime at their home, and would to continue her peaceful protest and would not leave until Yemen “has built good institutions that guarantee human rights and democracy.”
“There’s no better place than a tent,” she said.
The Nobel ceremony came on the same day as Yemen’s national unity government, led by the opposition, was sworn in Saturday to lead the country for a three-month transition period until Saleh formally steps down in February, in exchange for immunity for himself and his family.
Earlier, in her Nobel acceptance speech, Karman insisted “there should be no immunity for killers who rob the food of the people.”
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.
Karman nonetheless voiced unwavering optimism that the “Arab Spring” uprisings would succeed using peaceful means, in her country and even in Syria, where more than 4,000 people have been killed in the regime crackdowns, according to the UN, with 12 more civilians killed Saturday.
“People can attain all their goals … by peace. You can’t take down a dictatorship without peace,” she told AFP, insisting that “if they start with violence, they will end with violence.”
A member of the opposition Al-Islah party, Karman meanwhile stressed in her speech that the West should not fear that the “Arab Spring” uprisings that have swept through the Middle East with demands for democracy will lead to instability and extremism.
“All of that is just hard labour during the birth of democracy which requires support and assistance, not fear and caution,” she said.
“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… The problem is the misunderstandings by people (who practice) their religions.”