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Nobel Peace Prize winner: Please protect the Syrian people

On Sunday, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkul Karman gave a keynote speech on the situation in the Middle East to the 2012 Munich Security Conference. She condemned Russia and China for vetoing the Arab League resolution on the violence in Syria and called on the international community to protect the Syrian civilian population. Here are ...

Johannes Simon/Getty Images
Johannes Simon/Getty Images
Johannes Simon/Getty Images

On Sunday, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkul Karman gave a keynote speech on the situation in the Middle East to the 2012 Munich Security Conference. She condemned Russia and China for vetoing the Arab League resolution on the violence in Syria and called on the international community to protect the Syrian civilian population.

Here are some excerpts of her remarks:

On Sunday, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkul Karman gave a keynote speech on the situation in the Middle East to the 2012 Munich Security Conference. She condemned Russia and China for vetoing the Arab League resolution on the violence in Syria and called on the international community to protect the Syrian civilian population.

Here are some excerpts of her remarks:

"At this very moment, the regime of [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad is killing hundreds and injuring thousands of the great Syrian people, the people who are demanding freedom and democracy. He committed a horrible massacre [Saturday] in the city of Homs and it is just a continuation of the daily massacres in this brave city, this city which is the brave core and the heart of this peaceful Syrian revolution.

Bashar is committing these crimes shamefully backed by Russia and China, two of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the Security Council that is supposed to promote peace and security in the world and stand by the weak and stand by those who experience injustice.

Russia and China are refusing to take international measures that would protect the Syrian people and that would punish the Syrian regime. Those two countries bear the moral and human responsibility for these massacres. I, under the name of Arab youth, from the ocean to the Gulf, in the name of these brave Arab Youth, declare our complete condemnation of these two countries, which are supporting the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad.

I, in the name of the young people in the Arab countries, declare out complete condemnation of these two countries, and at the same time I declare our appreciation of the position of the other 13 members of the Security Council, which endorsed the draft resolution presented by the Arab League [Saturday], especially the United States, Germany, France, and the UK.

And I urge you, in the name of your governments, to condemn this war. And I urge you to spare no efforts to take the necessary measures to protect the Syrian people. And just to remind you, peace between countries is no more important than peace within countries. The war of dictators on their people is not less criminal, not less violating than the wars led between countries.

The war that Bashar al-Assad is leading against his own people is a war against humanity and his atrocities are provocative to the human conscience and this requires a very firm stance by the international community. The human conscience cannot rest, you cannot rest, when you see the patient and peaceful Syrian young people’s blood is shed on the streets.

We are looking forward to the victory by the great Syrian people the people who are aspiring to achieve democracy and justice and freedom.  We have to stand by them and protect them and prove to them and to the tyrants that international legitimacy, international conventions, and interational values are more important and stronger than the weapons of the tyrants and greater than their oppression."

I urge you, in the name of the peaceful rebels, to expel Syrian ambassadors from your countries and I urge you to call back your ambassadors from Syria, and that is the minimum that you can do to punish the Syrian regime. And I also urge you to take the necessary measures to protect the Syrian people.

We have to know that we cannot achieve stability in the Middle East unless we undergo a complete democratic transformation and unless these societies enjoy democracy and good governance. Otherwise the Middle East would be destined to face instability and lack of security. Security in the Middle East is dependent on the transition to democracy and good governance. The corrupt regimes and the negativism that is prevailing in these countries sows the seeds for terrorism, for crises, for a lack of stability. And I stress again that the stability in Arab countries is of interest to the whole international community.

The dictator who kills his own people is violating human values, human conventions, and international agreements. As a result, what the Arab countries are exposed to now, the oppression they are experiencing, constitute a true threat to international peace."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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