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Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

There can be no I here,
And I can see
There is to be no you,
But soft, that we go together
As friends
To where the dogwood will flower
And the scent of lilac fills the breath of
The disappointed and
The forever tired
With calm. And
We shall bathe in the universe,
Bask in the glories of the sun.
Sweeping aside
Who we were, what we are,
As the day laps on our skin
Gently like a kitten
On a path.
We can’t look behind us.
It is but a sad illusion for those such as us.
We can bring no oil, no wine, no myrrh.
No more of the streets of our youth
No more of the wine vats
In our once luscious gardens.
There is but small growth among them.
Olive trees, dark, like skeletons,
Scorched and barren.
All growth for them is finished but for
The light we afforded their charred roots.
Nothing is there but exile for us.
Let us go.
Let us hasten our renewals.
Now is the time to be kind.
Let us not have this darkness now.
Their suns and moons are no longer ours,
Let us go, as friends should.
Our clouds will flow immaculate over the hills
And leave their traces gently on their souls
With the softness of the freshest cotton,
Lambs wool in the pink morning sun.
Let us go on our way
With nary a backwards glance,
But there, towards our own new present.
Me, the poet
You the eternal traveler.
No longer reticent, but brave in our pace.
Let us go to that place
As friends to the day.

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Drone video footage of Homs, in Syria, after the bombing. It is beyond description.

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A beautiful poem by a new friend that puts the immigration issue into perspective, Please read!!

 

Source: We Can All Hear The Voices

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IMG_0667

AZIZ

It wasn’t the noose, it was the bullet.

I looked around the flat for meaning. It was sparsely furnished, with only a couple of side chairs, a table and a sofa, three seat, blue in colour, with a warm yellow woollen blanket and a pillow on it, it served as his bed. Together it barely filled an otherwise empty space. A chair lie overturned in the middle of the floor next to the broken coffee table, oak, matching the parquet floor. The length of rope dangled ominously across the chair and table. On the floor I found two pictures in wooden frames. I had seen them before, Pictures of his beloved family. Aziz showed them to anyone who came to visit, but few ever came.

The day tried to peek its way in through the windows, casting what seemed a cruel light upon what lay on the floor. As I set the telephone back into the charger, I thought back to our conversations. They often revolved around his family. How his father had taught him to be a handyman, but also pushed him to become a doctor, and he did, a very good doctor in fact. His father told him that if a man is good with his hands, if he can find the patience to work well with wood, then he has the mindfulness to do anything. He had intended to pass that along to a son but was denied the chance.

Aziz never finished telling me what happened on August 27th, 2012, around noon. They knew about the fighting that had started but it hadn’t reached Damascus yet… The unrest in the poorer areas had grown and gross violence was becoming the norm. He told me the shelling started on the other side of the city at around 8:00 a.m. They started to grab what they could quickly. Aziz went downstairs to secure the transport when the mortar hit. His eyes filled with tears when he told me about his wife and two daughters, who did not survive, and all he could do was to wave me away, unable to say more.

In the ensuing days, he tried to use his considerable skills as a doctor to help the injured but realized he had to leave Damascus when a colleague of his was kidnapped by the fighters for a 100,000£ ransom. This is not an uncommon occurrence, he tells me. He left his office, his practice, everything behind for the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. The camp had been established about a month earlier and was already overpopulated. Protests were held daily about the lack of food and accommodation. Not long after his arrival he met a man who claimed that for a substantial fee he could offer him passage to Europe.

Unable to put the loss of his family behind him, Aziz was hoping for a new life here. Raised in an upper class environment in Damascus, he had never been subjected to racial harassment before. His Muslim beliefs simply did not allow for such thought, he believed. The fact that he was still waiting for his immigration paperwork to finalize when he first heard the taunts didn’t help, he knew he couldn’t react in any way or risk being sent immediately back to Damascus, which would mean certain death. This once proud man became only a shadow of his jovial, funny, intelligent self. I often wondered what his life had been like earlier in Damascus, but now he rarely left his apartment.

One Tuesday, about a month ago, he ran across a flier on the bus seat advertising a rally in support of refugees from Syria, although he didn’t speak Swedish, he was able to understand the meaning. In a rare moment, he decided to attend. It was an October afternoon, a Sunday, when the rally was held at Medborgarplatsen here in Stockholm. About 350 showed up and speeches were made, in Swedish. Although Aziz couldn’t understand, it moved him to see this. Perhaps he was misjudging Sweden, perhaps it was the open minded country he had heard about after all. Then everything changed. A group of about 25 skinheads decided to show up. What started as shouting and fist waving soon turned very violent. Aziz tried to get away, but was stuck in the crowd. Bottles and rocks were being thrown and Aziz went into a panic. Visions of his homeland overcame his logic as he started to fight back. Grabbing a stick, he swung at two of the Nazis, hitting one, Ole, across the back. Ole turned and they stood almost face to face. Fortunately, the police arrived, Ole turned away to avoid another arrest, and Aziz ran to safety. Ole made a permanent memory of Aziz, however, vowing to revenge.

Aziz was devastated. I had no idea, until I read his notes, just how deeply his sorrow rooted itself. He told of the nights of darkness, nightly visions of the explosion and the loss of his family. The aloneness and isolation he felt here in Sweden made so much worse by the fracas with Ole. He had no way out. He couldn’t practice medicine. It would take seven years to become certified, and he felt completely trapped. He had decided to end it all.

The police arrived and the ambulance, no one could understand the noose around his neck or the bullet hole in the window. What was the connection?

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These photos taken in a refugee camp in Zaatari document the joy of play. The beauty and spirit of youth, even during such terrible times. They show what is truly important in life, that we remember that we are all human above all else.

http://nyti.ms/1F7eoYV

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I found this wonderful poem after almost forgetting about it,, I’m sending it out the the brave people of Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Gaza, Tunisia, Tibet, Burma, and the Occupy movements all around the world.

Freedom does indeed come at a price, and the cost of freedom should never be death, but it is always vigillance. As the current events in the US and many other places prove, it is far too easy for governments to become corrupt, and it is the duty of the citizens to stand up for their rights.

 

My Generation Reading the Newspapers by Kenneth Patchen : The Poetry Foundation.

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2011 was a fascinating year full of surprises and disappointment, but also growth, struggle, oppression, death, life, love, bravery, hope and inspiration. The changes and challenges faced so bravely by the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Gaza, the occupy movement in my home country, have forever changed my world view for the better, despite my extreme disappointment at the lack of changes by the Obama administration, it seems we’re stuck in a terrible rut because of Dubya and no matter who we elect we still have the spectre of fascism hanging over our heads.

As the new year approaches, I only want to send to all of you my warmest wishes for a wonderful new year. I am so excited at the possibilities, perhaps more so than i have been in quite some time, regardless of what might happen in the U.S. elections. The prospects of democracy and freedom spreading where it’s been absent is too exciting to overlook. I simply have to be involved in it, in my own small way, and perhaps find ways to expand on that.

Peace, freedom and love and growth may I wish all of you wonderful brave freedom fighters around the world, and to everyone, my wonderful wife, I adore you, my lovely family I miss you very much,my  friends here in Sweden, back in the US, comrades everywhere and everyone!

Have a wonderful new year!!

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As so many around the world did, I watched the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies, or as much as I could until work so rudely interrupted. It was a wonderful celebration of women and their various political and governmental roles, both on a grass-roots level and in leadership positions. I don’t feel that I’m going too far out on a limb to say that at no time in history has the effect of and possibilities of women in leadership roles been more apparent, especially in the political realm. The roles of women has changed considerably in this young century, changed to the point that they are finally getting the respect they deserve as it becomes more and more apparent that in no country can there be a true peace or democracy without the direct input, active participation and leadership of women.

However, as always in the cause of civil liberty, those gains have come at a very high price. In his ceremony speech to present the Nobel Peace Prizes, Thorbjörn Jagland, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said this,

“Men and women have at all times experienced war in different ways. Although women, too, have fought in wars through the centuries, and today even engage in terrorism, it is the men who to a far greater extent have engaged in the actual warfare. In modern wars the majority of the victims are often civilian and very many of them are women and children.

Rape has always been one of the horrors of war. But in recent years, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Darfur, in Rwanda, and in Congo, among many other places, we have seen rape working not just as a massive violation in itself. Rape has become part of the tactics of war. The aim is to break down the enemy’s morale, to force populations to move, and to punish opponents also after the war is over.

This was defined as a crime against humanity and as war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has since reached the same conclusion.

Popular opinion in favor of this view must be strengthened, and that is what we are doing here today.

We are doing so by attracting renewed attention to the resolution adopted in October 2000 by the UN Security Council, Resolution 1325. The resolution for the first time made violence against women in wartime an international security issue. It underlined the need to have women become participants on an equal footing with men in peace processes and in peace work in general. Women had to break out of their roles as victims; they must themselves become players who will contribute to creating peace. These goals were then hammered out further in four new Security Council resolutions, 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960.These resolutions must be given prominent and visible places on the desks of all heads of state.

For there is still a long way to go before the goals of these resolutions are reached. In recent peace negotiations in various parts of the world which are surveyed, fewer than 8 per cent of the participants in the negotiations and fewer than 3 per cent of the peace agreement signatories were women. No woman has ever been appointed chief negotiator in any peace negotiations led by the UN.

Meanwhile the rapes continue, thousands of them, day after day.”

One female journalist that I know from twitter, New York resident Mona Eltahawy was in Cairo on Nov. 23rd,where she was arrested and held for 12 hours and subject to beatings and sexually molested, not raped but groped and molested repeatedly by a group of 5 or 6 men while being called terrible names. Her left hand was broken and her right arm was broken so severely that it required surgery, including a titanium plate and screws to hold it together. She describes her ordeal in this article..  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/24/journalist-mona-eltahawy-sex-assault-cairo

Obviously her story is hardly the only one, and as she points out, it may have been her dual citizenship, (Egyptian and American) that kept her from suffering a worse fate. I bring this up not to minimize what is happening daily to other women, but to give those other women who suffer in silence a face and a strong voice. She has taken on the mantle of many oppressed women throughout the world and I applaud her for that.

On December 17, a video went totally viral over the Internet. It showed an Egyptian woman being grabbed by her black robe, dragged, beaten kicked and partially stripped at Tahrir Square during a protest calling for the end of the military rule. Women, who played a substantial role in the protests leading to the fall of Mubarak are now feeling as if they are being targeted.

During the Bosnian war, Serbian troops established houses for the entrapment of Bosnian women and young girls. The most infamous was what became known as the “Karamans’ House” where Bosnian women and girls were brought against their will, trapped as sex slaves and repeatedly raped, beaten and abused and extremely humiliated. The youngest victim being only 12 years old as the Muslim women were targeted only as a means for the Serbian troops to assert their superiority and feeling of victory over them. Estimates are that during the Bosnian war Serbian soldiers raped between 20,000 and 50,000 Bosnian women. This number doesn’t even factor the men and boys who suffered the same fate. In Somalia, women in refugee camps reported being afraid to even go outside to gather firewood for fear of being raped by Kenyan gangs waiting in the bushes to demoralize them. This barbarism is sadly commonplace in such places as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Sudan and numerous refugee camps.

War rape is a type of slow genocide that affects the victims in many forms because of the physical impact on the victims including vaginal fistula, seen in the widespread rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also unwanted pregnancy and sexual transmitted disease. It can lead to them being jailed as prostitutes in places like Afghanistan and being totally ostracized and outcast from society and family and left with an unwanted child and feelings of hopelessness fear and anxiety, shame and anger. The effects on the child can be catastrophic as well, Imagine having this as your legacy! Not to mention the enormous psychological effects on the victims themselves.

In Libya, during the conflict that saw the fall of Gaddafi, the International Criminal Court reports that as an official policy troops were given Viagra to ensure that they were prepared to rape at any time. The chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo reports that it is difficult to know exactly how often it was used but that certain areas reported rapes numbered in the high hundreds at least.

In fundamentalist Muslim countries such as Iran, women are still being stoned to death for being raped, the view being that it is the victims fault that the man is a total animal and unable to know right from wrong, and how to treat people with any modicum of respect.  Obviously this has to stop! This oppressive, inhuman treatment of women is the extreme male perspective, and supported by an extremist regime. There are people who are trying to fight against such hatred.  I have the utmost respect for anyone willing to stand up to such an oppressive barbaric regime.

But things are not all dread and doom, dear reader. Women are making incredible gains around the world.

I am inspired by the story of  Tawakol Karman from Yemen, who started the revolution against one of the most oppressive governments in the world, in one of the world’s poorest countries. It began in 2005 when she co-founded the group Women Journalists Without Chains. The groundswell, which became the revolution, was started in 2007 by, as she said in an interview during the Nobel Peace Prize activities, three women who had simply had enough.  (For more information please refer to the links below) Despite being arrested, beaten and chained for 36 hours, and having her life threatened numerous times, she held on to her belief and it led her to the Nobel Peace Prize.

It moved me tremendously to think that in Yemen, a country where women are not allowed to even be outside after 19:00, that three women could start a movement that would topple a ruthless dictator.  It is still very dangerous for women in Yemen, in Syria, in Egypt and all through the Middle East and Africa. In fact it is still dangerous for women all over the world.

Yesterday was Christmas. Today I want to believe in all the dreams I grew up with. Peace on Earth, goodwill to men and women, a safe place where Muslim children can play with Christian or Israeli children without fear, where men no longer victimize women for their own pathetic sense of self-esteem.

I began writing this with the memories of my own youth in my head. When women’s political involvement was, in the minds of many typically ill-informed and unsympathetic men, seen as little more than Greenpeace and green tea, where the idea of being environmentally aware for a guy was ok, but not always with the idea of actually accomplishing anything, but only as a way to meet women. I actually had a male friend suggest exactly that to me in college. Obviously he didn’t get the response he expected. We didn’t stay friends after that.  (Having said that, I want to say that I mean absolutely no disrespect to the wonderful work of Greenpeace, rather that at that time, in the early 80s they hadn’t gained the respect they were due among many American men.)

I am more and more convinced of the fact that there can be no peace without women being actively involved in government and decision policy making on every level. We’ve come a very long way in my lifetime. I am very aware of how far we have to go, of course, but I am so very buoyed by the confidence that as information flows and outside opinion becomes more accessible, as more and more women stand up against oppressive gender fascism, as tyrants are overthrown and democracy builds, that women may well be on the way to getting the power and support they so richly have deserved.

References and recommended reading;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawakel_Karman

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15216473

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/01/west-must-not-forsake-yemen

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/opinion/19karman.html?_r=1

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/08/revolution-saleh-yemen-peace-historic

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR16/002/2007/en/6e0e217b-d37f-11dd-a329-2f46302a8cc6/afr160022007en.pdf

http://womennewsnetwork.net/2011/08/10/genocide-war-rape-female-survivors/

http://www.bim.ba/en/39/10/1776/

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This is the acceptance speech she gave today. She gave it in arabic, so this is the translation taken from the Nobel Prize website. It speaks brilliantly of the role of women in the world. There can be no lasting peace when women are left out of the final process and the decision making!

Nobel acceptance speech of Tawakkol Karman, Oslo, 10. December 2011.

In the name of God the Compassionate the Merciful

Your Majesties, Highnesses, Excellencies, Distinguished Committee of the Nobel Peace Prize, Arab spring and revolution youth in the arena of freedom and change, and all free people of the world,

Peace upon you from the Nobel Peace rostrum

With joy and pleasure I would like to express my gratitude for the honour I was given together with my peace fighter colleagues, Her Excellency the President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Mrs. Leymah Gbowee, for this international award, which carries great moral and human meaning. Thank you for the award, which I consider as an honour to me personally, to my country Yemen, to the Arab women, to all women of the world, and to all people aspiring to freedom and dignity. I accept the award on my behalf and on behalf of the Yemeni and Arab revolutionary youth, who are leading today’s peaceful struggle against tyranny and corruption with moral courage and political wisdom.

Alfred Nobel’s dream of a world, where peace prevails and wars disappear, has not been achieved yet, but the hope to make it come true has grown large, and the effort to achieve it has doubled. The Nobel Peace Prize still offers this hope spiritual and conscientious momentum. For more than a hundred years, this award has stood as proof of the values of peaceful struggle for rights, justice and freedom, and also as proof of how wrong violence and wars are with all their backfiring and devastating results.

I have always believed that resistance against repression and violence is possible without relying on similar repression and violence. I have always believed that human civilization is the fruit of the effort of both women and men. So, when women are treated unjustly and are deprived of their natural right in this process, all social deficiencies and cultural illnesses will be unfolded, and in the end the whole community, men and women, will suffer. The solution to women’s issues can only be achieved in a free and democratic society in which human energy is liberated, the energy of both women and men together. Our civilization is called human civilization and is not attributed only to men or women.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, millions of people have died in wars which could have been avoided with a little wisdom and courage. The Arab countries had their share in these tragic wars, though their land is the land of prophecies and divine messages calling for peace. From this land came the Torah carrying the message: “Thou shalt not kill” and the Bible promising: “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and the final message of the Koran urging “O ye who believe, enter ye into the peace, one and all.” And the warning that “whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind.”
However, in spite of its great scientific achievements, the history of humanity is stained with blood. Millions have fallen victims in the rise and fall of kingdoms. That is what ancient history tells us and what recent history confirms! Today’s recent evidence tells us that the essence of messages calling for peace has repeatedly been trampled, and the human conscience has often been overrun by the voice of warplanes, rocket and missile launchers, bombs and all means of killing!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mankind’s feeling of responsibility to create a decent life and make it worth living with dignity, has always been  stronger than the will to kill life. Despite great battles, the survival of the human race is the clearest expression of mankind’s yearning for reconstruction, not for destruction, for progress, not for regression and death. This tendency is strengthened day after day with all available means of communications, thanks to the rapid and astonishing development of information technology and the communications revolution. Walls between human societies have fallen down and the lives and destinies of societies have converged, marking the emergence of a new phase, a phase where peoples and nations of the world are not only residents of a small village, as they say, but members of one family, despite differences in nationality and race or in culture and language. All the members of this one family interact in all corners of our planet and share the same aspirations and fears. Despite all its missteps, humanity will go on in its march towards what is “beneficial to the people” and will make different cultures, identities and specific characteristics of civilizations come closer to each other on the road towards positive convergence and interaction, both in taking and in giving. Thus, understanding will gradually replace dispute, cooperation will replace conflict, peace will replace war, and integration will replace division.

One can say that our contemporary world, which has been refined and developed by expertise and long experience, good and bad, is marching with confident steps towards the creation of a new world and shining globalization. It will be a new and positive world with human prospects and globalization which will guarantee the values of freedom, truth, justice and cooperation to all human beings. It will be a world where all relationships, dealings and laws will be based on the prohibition of all forms and practices of exclusion and enslavement of man by man. This will mean a globalization with no policies of injustice, oppression, discrimination or tyranny, and a world full of partnership and cooperation, dialogue and coexistence, and acceptance of others. This will mean a globalization where resorting to the law of power and its might, against groups, peoples and nations, in order to deprive them of their liberty and human dignity, will disappear, once and forever. Am I dreaming too much ..?

I see on the horizon a glimpse of a new world, of a shining and flourishing globalization. I certainly see the end of a vicious and black history in which so many peoples and nations had experienced horror, tragedies, destruction and disaster. I certainly see the beginning of a humane, prosperous and generous history full of love and fraternity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Peace within one country is no less important than peace between countries. War is not just a conflict between states. There is another type of war, which is far more bitter, that is the war of despotic leaders who oppress their own people. It is a war of those to whom people have entrusted their lives and destinies, but who have betrayed that trust. It is a war of those to whom people have entrusted their security, but who directed their weapons against their own people. It is the war which today people face in the Arab States.

At this moment, as I speak to you here, young Arab people, both women and men, march in peaceful demonstrations demanding freedom and dignity from their rulers. They go forward on this noble path armed not with weapons, but with faith in their right to freedom and dignity. They march in a dramatic scene which embodies the most beautiful of the human spirit of sacrifice and the aspiration to freedom and life, against the ugliest forms of selfishness, injustice and the desire to hold on to power and wealth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Peace does not mean just to stop wars, but also to stop oppression and injustice. In our Arab region, there are brutal wars between governments and peoples. Human conscience cannot be at peace while it sees these young Arab people, who are in the age of blossoming, being harvested by the machine of death which is unleashed against them by the tyrants. The spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize is the spirit of peace, in which today we look forward in support of the aspiration of the Arab peoples for democracy, justice and freedom. If we support this spirit, the spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize, then we will prove to the despots that the ethics of peaceful struggle are stronger than their powerful weapons of repression and war.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The revolutions of the Arab spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria, and the movement towards revolutions in other Arab countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Bahrain, Sudan and others, in terms of motivation, driving power and objectives, didn’t take place on isolated islands cut off from all the rapid and astonishing developments and changes which our world is witnessing. The Arab people have woken up just to see how poor a share of freedom, democracy and dignity they have. And they revolted. This experience is somewhat similar to the spring that swept throughout Eastern Europe after the downfall of the Soviet Union. The birth of democracies in Eastern Europe has been difficult and victory emerged only after bitter struggle against the then existing systems. Similarly, the Arab world is today witnessing the birth of a new world which tyrants and unjust rulers strive to oppose, but in the end, this new world will inevitably emerge.

The Arab people who are revolting in a peaceful and civilized manner have, for so many decades, been oppressed and suppressed by the regimes of authoritarian tyrants who have indulged themselves deeply in corruption and in looting the wealth of their people. They have gone too far in depriving their people of freedom and of the natural right to a dignified life. They have gone too far in depriving them of the right to participate in the management of their personal affairs and the affairs of their communities. These regimes have totally disregarded the Arab people as a people with a legitimate human existence, and have let poverty and unemployment flourish among them in order to secure that the rulers and their family members after them will have full control over the people. Allow me to say that our oppressed people have revolted declaring the emergence of a new dawn, in which the sovereignty of the people, and their invincible will, will prevail. The people have decided to break free and walk in the footsteps of civilized free people of the world.

All ideologies, beliefs, laws and charters produced by the march of humanity through all stages of its development and growth, as well as all divine messages and religions, without exception, oblige us to support oppressed people, be they groups or individuals. Supporting an oppressed person is not only required because of his need for support, but also because injustice against one person is injustice against all mankind.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What Martin Luther King called “the art of living in harmony” is the most important art we need to master today. In order to contribute to that human art, the Arab states should make reconciliation with their own people an essential requirement. This is not merely an internal interest, but also an international one required for the whole human community. The dictator who kills his own people doesn’t only represent a case of violation of his people’s values and their national security, but is also a case of violation of human values, its conventions and its international commitments. Such a case represents a real threat to world peace.

Many nations, including the Arab peoples, have suffered, although they were not at war, but were not at peace either. The peace in which they lived is a false “peace of graves”, the peace of submission to tyranny and corruption that impoverishes people and kills their hope for a better future. Today, all of the human community should stand with our people in their peaceful struggle for freedom, dignity and democracy, now that our people have decided to break out of silence and strive to live and realize the meaning of the immortal phrase of Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab, “Since when have you enslaved people, when their mothers had given birth to them as free ones.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

When I heard the news that I had got the Nobel Peace Prize, I was in my tent in the Taghyeer square in Sana’a. I was one of millions of revolutionary youth. There, we were not even able to secure our safety from the repression and oppression of the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh. At that moment, I contemplated the distinction between the meanings of peace celebrated by the Nobel Prize, and the tragedy of the aggression waged by Ali Abdullah Saleh against the forces of peaceful change. However, our joy of being on the right side of history made it easier for us to bear the devastating irony.

Millions of Yemeni women and men, children, young and old took to the streets in eighteen provinces demanding their right to freedom, justice and dignity, using non-violent but effective means to achieve their demands. We were able to efficiently and effectively maintain a peaceful revolution in spite of the fact that this great nation has more than seventy million firearms of various types. Here lies the philosophy of the revolution, which persuaded millions of people to leave their weapons at home and join the peaceful march against the state’s machine of murder and violence, just with flowers and bare breasts, and filled with dreams, love and peace. We were very happy because we realized, at that time, that the Nobel Prize did not come only as a personal prize for Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman, but as a declaration and recognition of the whole world for the triumph of the peaceful revolution of Yemen and as an appreciation of the sacrifices of its great peaceful people.

And here I am now, standing before you in this solemn international ceremony. Here I am, in this unique moment, one of the most important moments of human history, coming from the land of the Arab Orient, coming from the land of Yemen, the Yemen of wisdom and ancient civilizations, the Yemen of more than five thousand years of long history, the great Kingdom of Sheba, the Yemen of the two queens Bilqis and Arwa, the Yemen which is currently experiencing the greatest and the most powerful and the largest eruption of Arab spring revolution, the revolution of millions throughout the homeland, which is still raging and escalating today. This revolution will soon complete its first year since the moment it was launched as a peaceful and popular revolution of the youth, with one demand: peaceful change and the pursuit of free and dignified life in a democratic and civil state governed by the rule of law. This state will be built on the ruins of the rule of a repressive, militarized, corrupt and backward family police rule, which has consistently brought Yemen to the edge of failure and collapse during the last thirty-three years.

Our peaceful and popular youth revolution is not isolated or cut off from the revolutions of the Arab spring. However, with all regret and sadness, I should note that it did not get the international understanding, support or attention of the other revolutions in the region. This should haunt the world’s conscience because it challenges the very idea of fairness and justice.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through you and your great universal forum, we send to the world a clear and expressive message in which we emphasize that:

–    Our youth revolution is peaceful and popular and is rallied around by the people. It dreams of a free and democratic homeland with no room for tyranny, dictatorship, corruption or failure. I, on behalf of the revolutionary youth, pledge to all people in the world that we are committed to peaceful struggle as a strategic option, without deviation or retreat, regardless of the sacrifices and regardless of the extent of state repression, killing and violence.

–    Our youth revolution is peaceful and popular and is motivated by a just cause, and has just demands and legitimate objectives, which fully meet all divine laws, secular conventions and charters of international human rights. Our revolution is determined to fully change the corrupt conditions and ensure free and dignified life, regardless of sacrifices and bitter sufferings, until the establishment of a democratic civil state, a state where the rule of law, equality and a peaceful transfer of power prevails.

–    Our peaceful popular youth revolution has succeeded in attracting to its ranks and marches hundreds of thousands of women who have fulfilled, and still fulfil, a major, noticeable and effective role in its activities, and in leading its demonstrations even to the smallest details. Not tens, but hundreds of these women have fallen as martyrs or been wounded for the sake of the victory of the revolution.

–    Because of the peaceful popular youth revolution, the voice and thundering march of young people have dominated and the voice of terror and explosive belts, which were employed by Ali Saleh as a justification for his rule, has faded away. The culture of peace is expanding and spreading, and it is finding a place in every neighbourhood and street where these young people walk demanding peaceful change and democracy.

–    Our peaceful popular youth revolution has demonstrated that the values and objectives of freedom, democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and press, peace, human coexistence, fight against corruption and organized crime, war on terrorism,  and resistance to violence, extremism and dictatorship, are values, ideals, demands and objectives of common human interest, and are cherished by the whole international community. These are not subject to division, selectivity or cancellation under the pretext of differences in human characteristics or the requirements of sovereignty in any way.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

I would like to emphasize that the Arab spring revolutions have emerged with the purpose of meeting the needs of the people of the region for a state of citizenship and the rule of law. They have emerged as an expression of people’s dissatisfaction with the state of corruption, nepotism and bribery. These revolutions were ignited by young men and women who are yearning for freedom and dignity. They know that their revolutions pass through four stages which can’t be bypassed:

–    Toppling the dictator and his family

–    Toppling his security and military services and his nepotism networks

–    Establishing the institutions of the transitional state.

–    Moving towards constitutional legitimacy and establishing the modern civil and democratic state.

Thus, the revolutions of the Arab spring will continue through the effort of youth, who are ready and prepared to launch each stage and to fully achieve its objectives. Today, the world should be ready and prepared to support the young Arab spring in all stages of its struggle for freedom and dignity. The civilized world should, immediately after the outbreak of the revolutions of youth, commence the detention and freezing of the assets of the figures of the regime and its security and military officials. In fact this is not enough, since these people should be brought to justice before the International Criminal Court. There should be no immunity for killers who rob the food of the people.

The democratic world, which has told us a lot about the virtues of democracy and good governance, should not be indifferent to what is happening in Yemen and Syria, and happened before that in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and happens in every Arab and non-Arab country aspiring for freedom. All of that is just hard labour during the birth of democracy which requires support and assistance, not fear and caution.

Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to share my belief that peace will remain the hope of mankind forever, and that the best hope for a better future for mankind will always drive us to speak noble words and do noble deeds. Together, we will push the horizons, one after another, towards a world of true human perfection.

Finally, I ponder myself standing here before you, in this moment, which every man and woman aspires to reach because of the recognition and appreciation is contains. As I do so, I see the great number of Arab women, without whose hard struggles and quest to win their rights in a society dominated by the supremacy of men I wouldn’t be here. This supremacy has caused a lot of injustice to both men and women. To all those women, whom history and the severity of ruling systems have made unseen, to all women who made sacrifices for the sake of a healthy society with just relationships between women and men, to all those women who are still stumbling on the path of freedom in countries with no social justice or equal opportunities, to all of them I say: thank you … this day wouldn’t have come true without you.

Peace be upon you

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2011

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