Profile: Tawakul Karman

Yemeni rights activist's tireless efforts for freedom wins her prestigious peace prize.

    Tawakul Karman is a Yemeni mother of three, Nobel Peace laureate, journalist and human rights activist. Kerman, 32, also chairs Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC), an organisation she founded in 2005 to defend human rights and freedom of expression.

    Since 2007 Karman has regularly led demonstrations and sit-ins in Change Square, the focal point for anti-government protests in the capital, Sanaa.

    Karman said she had received threats from the authorities by telephone because of her refusal to accept the ministry of information's rejection of WJWC's application to legally start a newspaper and a radio station.

    During the ongoing Yemeni demonstrations Karman organised student rallies in Sanaa to protest against Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president and his government.

    She was arrested and released on parole on January 24 but she led another protest days later, calling for a "day of rage" similar to that of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, which was inspired by the Tunisian uprising.

    For years her organisation has fought for civil rights and a free and independent press but the peaceful protests she has staged have often been ruthlessly suppressed.

    "We have a leader and a regime that doesn't want to resolve issues. Poverty is on the rise, disease and illiteracy have increased, and [there are] more human rights violations," she said.

    "Year after year he [Ali Saleh] has turned the country into a dictatorship, a country based on individual rather than state. This is the leaders' policy," she said.

    The Nobel committee said Karman won the Nobel Peace Prize 2011 for her "non-violent struggle for the safety of women".

    Upon hearing the news she said: "Thank God for this victory. I was not aware I was nominated for this prize. I am totally engaged with the revolution here in Yemen. I dedicate this victory to all the youth of the Arab Spring, to the memories of the martyrs, to the injured and all the activists.

    "I am totally overwhelmed, not only because of the prize but because of the dreams of freedom and dignity.

    "We will build our country with peace [and] I give this award for all the youth in the Arab world - in Egypt, in Libya, Syria and Yemen. All the youth and women, this is a victory for our demand for citizenship and human rights."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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