December: A Good Month For Yemenis
SANAA, Dec.11 – In the last month of 2011 four Yemenis won international awards in everything from human rights to signing competitions. Yemen saw bloody political unrest, an economic crash and a widespread humanitarian crisis in 2011, but still managed to end the year on a more positive note. On Saturday Yemeni human rights activist Tawakul Karman received her shared Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Karman received the prize along with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically elected female president of Liberia, along with Liberian women’s rights campaigner Leymah Gbowee. Karman was awarded the prize in recognition of her peaceful struggle; she has been calling for human rights and justice since 2006. She is now the both the youngest person to win as well as being the first Arab woman to receive the Nobel Prize. Karman is also one of the leaders of Yemen’s peaceful youth revolution and spent at least six months in Sana’a’s Change Square. Her first travel after winning was to Qatar a week later where she was received with joy and honor. On her way to the airport soldiers loyal to now horary president Ali Abdullah Saleh chanted for her. Karman left Yemen in October but has not given up her fight, travelling to the US, Europe and elsewhere campaigning on behalf of Yemen’s revolution. She has vowed not to return until Saleh steps down. “I have always believed that resistance against repression and violence is possible without relying on similar repression and violence,” she said at the ceremony. “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.” A day before the Nobel Prize Ceremony, Yemenis received the news that young Yemeni singer Najeeb Al-Mukbeli, 26, had won first place in the Gulf Star signing competition. He became the second Yemeni in a row to win the competition following Fuad Abdulwahid who predicted on Facebook that his fellow Yemeni Al-Mukbeli, who sang a song for Yemen when the results were announced, would win. He has now signed five years contract with Rotana Music Company. Arwa Othman, a Yemeni photographer, received the Ana Maria Mamuliti 2011 international prize from the Italian Foundation Alimerva. Othamn established the House of Folklore in 2004 in Sana’a, where she is a distinguished writer and a well-known face of the Yemeni revolution. She was awarded the prize for her role in boosting Yemeni culture and traditional folklore. Othman was forced to flee to Egypt because of the deteriorating security situation in Yemen. In April she was a victim of extremist violence because of her role in leading opposition marches against Saleh’s regime. Finally, Yemeni journalist Khaild Al-Hammadi was presented an award by the international organization, Canadian Journalists For Free Expression. Al-Hammadi is a journalist for Al-Jazeera TV and a freelance producer for Al-Jazeera English TV; he also works as a photojournalist for Agence-France Presse. Al-Hammadi won the award for his brave coverage of the Yemeni revolution, which he continued to report on despite death threats for his work.