In the Arab Spring people in Yemen have fought for a new land, for democracy and equal rights, says Tawakkol Karman. But the peacful uprising was smashed violently. After the coup of ousted president Ali Saleh the country has gotten devasted by the bombardements of Saudi Arabia and the revages of the Houthi militia supported by Ali Saleh and Iran. The humanitarian situation is deterioreting and civil society suffers a lot. The conflict could only be solved by disarming the militia. Their members then should be allowed to form a party. Later through elections a parliament and government should be put in place. At the same time an assembly would form a new constitution. It is equally important to initiate an economic reform. Because peace needs development, says Karman.
Tawakkol Karman, journalist and political activist. In 2011 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for democracy in the Arab Spring.
David Goessmann: Welcome to Contact City. We are here at the World Congress of the International Peace Bureau, “Disarm for a Climate of Peace,” at the Technical University of Berlin. Our next guest is Tawakol Karman. Tawakol Karman is [an] activist in Yemen. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her struggle in the Arab Spring for women’s rights, democracy, and freedom. Welcome to Contact City, Tawakol Karman. It’s [a] great pleasure to have you.
Tawakol Karman: Thank you so much for hosting me and for this interview. Thank you.
David Goessmann: Why are you here at the Peace Congress?
Tawakkol Karman: I’m here to share my colleagues with, who are the peacemakers, on our [will/world], and our activities for making peace around the world. For creating sustainable peace, which means sustainable development. For telling all over the world, for telling the international community, for telling the business sector, for telling all the effective sectors that peace needs development. There is no peace without development, and there is no development without peace. We are here for calling for disarmament, for calling for making a lot of effort to fight the illegal armament and also nuclear and also disarm all those militias and the armed groups that increase around the world, especially in the Arabian peninsula and especially in Yemen. So with the militia of Al Houthi or with any other militias that they are now winning and owning their weapons and use the weapons as a tool to kill the will of people, as a tool of the counter-revolution and also the coup against the [incomprehensible; will of people?] for peaceful change.
David Goessmann: You were one of the speakers of the 2011 uprising in Yemen in the fight against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Take us from there, because many of our viewers and listeners don’t know what has happened in the last years in Yemen. So what happened there?
Tawakkol Karman: What happened there, we can say it in three periods, especially when we start around 2011. The first period, which is the period of the peaceful revolution that started in 2011 as a result of the will of people to have a new country based on democracy and freedom and equality, rule of law and peace and development, and that they made a great peaceful revolution against the dictator Ali Saleh, and they when in their struggle against Ali Saleh, in the peaceful revolution against Ali Saleh, and forced him to resign on November 2011. This is the first step, which is very important when we talk about Yemen. Second step, which is the transition period, which was also peaceful period, that is all Yemeni enter into this period with the peaceful, with tolerance, with acceptance, even accepting the party of the dictator himself, Ali Saleh, and we made a national dialog, a great national dialog, continued like nine months at the time, and that was in 2012, and we made this great national dialog, and we signed onto this national dialog with all the power in Yemen, including the militia of Al Houthi and also alliance of Ali Saleh, and we made a draft of the constitution that really a great constitution that can make Yemen to pass to the future, make Yemen democratic and make Yemen lead with social justice, and also with democracy and peace. The third step, which is the step of [the] coup, the coup that was led by the ousted President Ali Saleh and the militia of Al Houthi, who made the coup against [incomprehensible] all the peaceful, you know, methods, at the first thing, and also I guess against the constitution, the draft constitution that was just steps to make it, to put it in the referendum, and against the national dialog, and against the legitimate president, the legitimate government, and they led a very ugly, bloody war against Yemenis. So now Yemenis live in the third part of this process of change, which is the part of war, of an ugly war led by the ousted President Ali Saleh, and also the militia of Al Houthi, who attacked the republic itself, who attacked the outcomes of the values of human rights, of equality and also democracy that we sacrificed for, and also now the war is – The President, the legitimate President, asked the Arab coalition, led by the Saudis, to help him against this coup. Now we are under the war that is by Saudi and Arab coalition with the President Hadi and also by militia of Al Houthi and Ali Saleh that is backed by Iran. So this is the reality in Yemen and now the civilians suffer a lot Yemen, but we are calling for a stop to this war, for a ceasefire that should start immediately, in parallel with handing over the weapons from the, taking the weapons from the militia. The militia has to hand over the weapons to the state. They have to withdraw from all the cities that they occupied, and here I’m talking about the militia of Al Houthi, and they have then to transfer themselves to the political party to participate in the public, in the political life without using violence, without using weapons, and then we will start our referendum for the constitution and then the election. All this must be with the transitional justice law that we have to spread, that we have to implement, and also we have to make economic reforms, we have to make economic growth that must be with the political transition because if there is no economic support that means all things will collapse, as it happened