By Benjamin Villanti
By Benjamin Villanti
Morocco World News
New York, June 18, 2012
Yemeni journalist, human rights activist and 2011 co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Tawakkol Karman declared last Tuesday in front of the United Nations in New York that she was with the Syrian people against the rule of Bashar Assad. Karman also announced her plans to take on a more active role to support the Syrian opposition.
“I am working to support Syria. It is part of the Arab Spring,” claimed Karman, who became the face of the pro-democracy protests in Yemen last year, when students and other Yemeni citizens refused to leave city squares across the country, ultimately driving the president of 33 years, Ali Saleh from power.
Speaking before a small group of reporters across the street from the UN, Karman announced she was “planning to play a serious role for supporting the Syrian people,” including by using her newfound international celebrity and global travels to advocate on their behalf.
“I put all my ability for supporting them and to be with them,” whose cause she claimed was a “first priority”.
Karman called on Russia and China to change “their strategy.” Referring to the two countries that have twice vetoed Security Council resolutions that would have condemned Assad, Karman stated, “They have to be with people. They have to be with the people who are dreaming, who are struggling, who are paying their blood for their democracy and their freedom.”
The Yemeni activist urged the international community to recognize the Syrian National Council as the only representative body of Syria, as Assad’s government had lost its legitimacy. Karman also called on the international community to establish ‘safe zones’ in Syria.
Asked whether she was concerned that Al Qaeda or other extremist groups would be able to exploit the vacuum that the fall of the Assad regime would create, she dismissed such worries. Expressing confidence about Syrians’ ability to establish democracy, Karman stated, “The Syrian people will gather themselves and build their country. I am sure of that.”
Tawakkol Karman had been at the UN earlier in the morning to voice her support for a resolution adopted by the Security Council that threatened sanctions against potential spoilers of Yemen’s democratic transition plan.
When Karman received the Nobel Peace Prize last year at the age of 32, she became the youngest laureate ever and first Arab woman awarded the honor.
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