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Tawakkol Karman at WES2018: The struggle for democracy and freedom

Tawakkol Karman, a Nobel Peace Price winner, kicked off the Warwick Economics Summit with an inspiring speech and message to students to ‘raise your voice’ in an effort to combat injustice because “with the students…we can change the world.”

Karman co-founded Women Journalist Without Chains as a direct response to the corruption and oppression in Yemen imposed by the dictatorship. Her desire to defend the freedom of expression stems from the belief that “no country is fully democratic without full expression rights”, as she urged the audience to “own your dream” and “establish your own institution to push for change.”

Karman recalled the moment during the Peaceful Revolutions of the Arab Spring, where thousands of men and women poured onto the streets and chanted in unison their ‘revolution’ song. The strong belief for change echoed through the songs and active demonstrations forced dictators to resign and brought victory to the people of Yemen.

The Nobel Peace winner remarked that her efforts were only made possible with the help of students. She said that initially “we were alone…but armed with the dream for freedom”. Later, she found herself stood at the gates of a university in Yemen, calling for the students to ‘wake up’ and recognise the injustice in the system; and when they did, real change occurred.

Drawing on that thought, she reiterated the importance of all students around the world to take an initiative to lead the change: “Don’t forget that you are a global citizen”. She remarked, that in order to tackle problems such as the current refugee crisis, the first step to change is not to install a wall or put up a barrier to stop the refugees. Because, at the end of the day, these people are merely victims of an oppressive dictatorial system.

Karman called upon the vital need of supporting the victims, to voice our concerns through the tools of social media to help combat and overthrow the dictators in countries like Yemen and Syria, who are the root cause of widespread terrorism and war that lead to the compounding problems that Western countries have to deal with today.

 

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