Monday, November 7, 2011

First Arab woman to win Nobel Peace Prize to speak at U-M

Nov 07, 2011

by William Foreman

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Yemeni human rights activist Tawakkul Karman, the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, will discuss the role of women in the changes sweeping across the Middle East in a public lecture Nov. 14 at the University of Michigan.

The 32-year-old mother of three was virtually unknown outside of Yemen before she began leading anti-government protests this year in the impoverished nation on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. But among Yeminis, the outspoken Karman is known as "the iron woman" and the "mother of revolution."

Her brief arrest in January helped ignite protests by hundreds of thousands demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh's authoritarian regime be toppled and replaced by a democratic government. After holding her for a day, the authorities released Karman and she immediately went back to leading demonstrations.

"We are proud to host Tawakkul Karman, a courageous leader in the movement for peace and democracy that has already accomplished so much for Yemen and the entire region," said Michael Bonner, chair of the Department of Near Eastern Studies and interim director of the Arabic Flagship Program. "She will enrich the cultural experience that we strive to offer our students, and she will bring a precious message to the large Middle Eastern community of Southeastern Michigan."

Female empowerment was the main theme of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, and Karman shared the award with two other women: Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.

Karman will be the second Nobel Peace laureate to speak at U-M in the past month. Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, awarded the Nobel in 1991, spoke to students via video on Oct. 25 when she received the Wallenberg Medal.

Karman's free lecture on Nov. 14 will begin at 4 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium, 915 East Washington St., Ann Arbor.

She has been invited through U-M's Arabic Flagship Program, an intensive language program that immerses selected undergraduate students in Arabic language and culture. The program is part of the Department of Near Eastern Studies in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Other hosting units are the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, International Institute, Islamic Studies Program, Middle East and South Asia Gender Studies Initiative in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender; Vice Provost for International Affairs and the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia. For more on Near Eastern Studies:

EU to discuss sanctions on Yemen’s Saleh next week in bid to make him resign

PARIS, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Europe will discuss freezing the assets of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his entourage next week as the bloc tries to make him to stand down in line with a deal brokered by Gulf Arab states, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Monday.

"I think asset freezes will be discussed as soon as possible" Juppe said after meeting Yemeni Nobel peace laureate Tawakul Karman in Paris.

The matter was on the agenda of next week's foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels next week, he said.

Nine months of anti-government protests have paralysed Yemen, pushing it to the brink of civil war, but failing to dislodge Saleh, who has ruled for 33 years. Saleh has three times agreed to sign the transition deal only to back out at the very last minute.

Karman, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with two Liberian women in October, said the international community had to do more against Saleh and his government which she said continued to "let blood flow" in her country on a daily basis.

"We need more action," she said. "We want you to freeze the assets of Saleh and his people and that action is taken at the International Criminal Court as he is a war criminal."

The U.N. Security Council on Oct. 21 condemned the Yemeni government crackdown on protesters and urged the signing of the agreement that would require the president to step down in exchange for immunity. The body offered no details on how accountability could be achieved if there is an immunity deal.

"I am ready to discuss with my European colleagues how to ensure the resolution is implemented, but our action would be more efficient if the (Yemen) opposition was more united," Juppe said.

Juppe said that the U.N. resolution would pave the way for an inquiry to see if there were any crimes committed that could be taken to an international court

Yemen: Three soldiers killed by al-Qa'ida militants in southern Abyan


ADEN, (Xinhua): Intense fighting broke out between units of the Yemeni army and dozens of al-Qaida militants Sunday, killing at least three troops and injuring two others in the flashpoint southern province of Abyan, an army officer said.

Units of the 119th Armored Army Brigade clashed with the al- Qaida militants in the Bajdar neighborhood, east of Zinjibar, the provincial city of Abyan province, the army officer told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"The army units were trying to make progress into the al-Qaida stronghold," he said, adding that "the army troops countered strong resistance and heavy fire by the terrorists."

The al-Qaida heavy fire impeded the army forces' progress into the neighborhood, according to the army officer.

Abyan, some 480 km south of the capital Sanaa, has been the scene of daily fierce fighting after hundreds of militants from the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) captured Zinjibar and at least three other towns in May.

Yemeni military forces took back the control of Zinjibar in September, but heavy clashes are still rocking the region.

The AQAP group has stepped up attacks on government troops in Yemen's lawless south, exploiting turmoil in a country convulsed by 10 months of protests against the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.