Yemen Nobel winner says award is victory for activists

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 07, 2011 7:25 AM
Yemen Nobel winner says award is victory for activists

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Tawakul Karman said Friday the award was a victory for Yemen's democracy activists and they would not give up until they had won full rights in a "democratic, modern Yemen."

"This is a victory for the youth first and foremost. We are here to win our freedom and dignity in their entirety. Our youth revolution wants our complete rights," she told broadcaster Al Jazeera, from "Change Square," center of the protest movement.

"We will not allow our revolution to be left incomplete. We want a democratic, modern Yemen. That's what the youth and the martyrs and the wounded have vowed to gain. We will continue our peaceful movement."

Tawakul has been a key figure among the youth activists since they began camping out at Change Square in central Sanaa in February demanding the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's three-decade rule.

She has often been the voice of the street activists on Arabic television, giving them on the ground reports of the situation at the square outside Sanaa University, where dozens of activists have been shot dead by government forces.

Karman said all Yemenis she was in contact with were thrilled about the award.

"Yemen will go down in history thanks to Tawakul Karman. She deserves the prize. She has kept fighting for the sake of her peoples' freedom," said Abdulbari Taher, a protest leader in Sanaa.

A government official also praised Karman's award, expressing hope it would lead to a resolution of a crisis that has ground Yemen's economy to a halt.

Saleh, who survived an assassination attempt in June, has repeatedly refused to sign a peace deal arranged by Gulf Arab countries that would see him step down ahead of new elections.

"I'm very happy with the news that she won the Nobel Prize and it's something that all Yemenis can be proud of," Deputy Information Minister Abdu al-Janadi said. "I hope this prize will be a step toward rationality."

(Writing by Andrew Hammond, reporting by Mohammed Ghobari and Erika Solomon Editing by Maria Golovnina)