Speech by Mrs. Tawakkol Karman at Nobel Prize Dialogue 2019 - Sweden

At the outset I would like to express how happy am I for being among you today. What makes me happier is that I will speak about the Arab Spring revolutions. During the last three years and amid the rising tide of counterrevolutionary forces and their success in retaking over power in several Arab spring countries, some intentionally or unintentionally rushed to mourn the Arab Spring revolutions and claimed they have gone forever.

On the other hand, me and others were sure that the Arab spring is still alive and would never die. We have always emphasized that the Arab Spring emerged to resist and win. After all, the Arab peoples have no choice but to triumph for their freedom and the rule of law. We were, and we are still, aware how it is difficult for the pre-2011 conditions to continue.


Dear friends,
Over the past years, the counterrevolutionary forces have led a sustained campaign to tarnish the Arab Spring image and accused the revolutionaries of being part of a Western, Israeli, Christian, Crusader, Iranian, Islamic, extremist and terrorist plot aimed at destabilizing the region. Such accusations, though silly and ridiculous, are echoed by some intellectuals and clerics who have accepted to serve as mouthpieces of tyrannical regimes.  It is truly unfortunate that some intellectuals and clerics who used to present themselves as defenders of human rights and freedom have turned into simply cheap tools and voices to stand for dictatorship and authoritarianism.

After nearly eight years of tarnishing the image of the Arab Spring, spreading malicious rumors, cracking down dissents and throwing them in detention centers and imposing severe restrictions on freedom of expression, the Arab Spring still inspires our peoples. They have been unsuccessful in their plans and overestimated their ability to deceive people and manipulate their feelings.

Besides those who explicitly express their hatred towards the Arab Spring, there are others who are not less ugly than the previous ones claim to speak for the Arab Spring, but in reality, they seek to impose their desires and convictions on people, while the nation is facing a conspiracy. So we have seen how some forces turned against democracy just because their rivals managed to win the elections.

One of the most basic tenets of democracy is accepting the will of the electors, election results and the presence of competitors at the political and economic level, as well as not considering varying views as a sign of weakness but of strength. Indeed, “the one-voice state run by the necessity-leader” is a state of injustice, detention, corruption and tyranny.

Dear friends,
The Arab Spring revolutions have been met with an extremely destructive war by the counter-revolutionary forces that wanted to turn back the clock, claiming at their own platforms that Arab nations are unworthy of democracy, freedom, or true citizenship.  They succeeded in nipping Egypt’s democracy in the bud via a military coup hostile to civil values, in bringing Yemen into a civil war with support for a coup by a fascist militia hostile to democratic values and the principle of citizenship and in pushing the Syrian revolution into a path of dark violence by supporting groups Terrorism and making deals with the Bashar al-Assad terrorist regime. Moreover, they spent huge sums of money to block any popular movements in many Arab countries that suffer from widespread corruption and tyranny.

But this obscurantist track controlled by the counter-revolution capitals, in collusion with Western governments that abandoned their principles of supporting democratic movements and rejecting human rights violations, runs through difficult and complex roads. In light of protests and popular uprisings that erupted first in Sudan and Algeria and then moved to Iraq and Lebanon, it can be said that relying on the death of the Arab Spring is a losing bet.

The popular movements taking place today in many Arab countries can only be a new wave of the Arab Spring revolutions. This is what I believe. On a personal level, I have friends from those countries, and over the past years aspirations we have shared with them aspirations for making our homelands oases of freedom and development. These friends are participating wholeheartedly in the demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the regimes of corruption, cronyism and oppression. A well-deserved tribute to them and to all the revolutionaries, male and female, in Algeria, Sudan, Iraq and Lebanon, who have taught us lessons heroism in the face of corruption and dictatorship!

During the past period, I listened to analyzes and voices questioning popular uprisings, especially in Iraq and Lebanon. These claims accuse, at times, America and Saudi Arabia and the UAE, at other times, of being behind those revolutions. It may be in the interest of these countries for a change in Iraq and Lebanon, or in the change that occurred in Sudan, but these interests are certainly not the same ones of the revolutionary peoples. Therefore, those countries will conspire against the revolutions of the Lebanese, the Sudanese, and the Algerians. So, does the solution lie in submitting to the corrupt regimes led and controlled by the Mullahs in Tehran?

Absolutely not. What Iran's political and military militias are doing is dangerous and horrific. There is an urgent need to put an end to the anarchy caused by the Revolutionary Guard and Mullahs' state. After all, those who took to the streets seek freedom, democracy and equality, but the relevant governments are hostile to such values. I assure you that the awareness of the revolutionaries is much greater than nonsense and lies of the counter-revolutionary forces, no matter they are Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Iran, the al-Sisi regime, or the Houthi militia.

Dear friends,
The popular movements that took place in Iran last month and the way how the Iranian regime dealt with peaceful protesters confirm that the Arab Spring is too great to be contained, and that the voices chanting for liberation from the shackles of dictatorship since 2011 are still able to serve as an inspiration not only at the Arab level but also at the global level. The Iranian regime has declared the victory of Iran and the defeat of the enemies. Who are the enemies who have been defeated? They are the Iranian people who want to be freed from the might of mullahs’ rule. This is how despotic regimes look at people's dreams and aspirations for human freedom and dignity.

Tomorrow, the Iranian people will rise up one again and end the Revolutionary Guards ’power over their lives. Tomorrow, the Arab Spring wave will extend to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and all countries in the region. The peoples of the region have the right to live like Europeans without being subjected to authoritarianism or violations.

The second wave of the Arab Spring came to refute the claims of the counter-revolution forces that the people's protests and their demand for change are an foreign conspiracy. The revolutionaries in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon and Iraq have rebutted all these lies. People no longer accept the persistence of deviations by corrupt and weak-willed governments and regimes protected by outside powers.

Dear friends,
The second wave of the Arab Spring revolutions are not only confronted with corrupt regimes, but also with sectarian regimes, which know well how to exploit sectarian contradictions as a weapon to stay in power, so great care must be taken bout their movements aimed at provoking sectarian strife and inciting the enmity among people.

The battle of the Arab Spring will keep going on, whether in its first, second, or third waves, with corruption, sectarianism and despotism. Yes, the Arab Spring will remain present in the conscience of the Arab peoples, and whoever has not revolted so far will revolt tomorrow. The essence of the idea is to break free from our internal and external constraints, and to break free from the authorities of corruption, dictatorships and armed militias, at all costs.

In 2011, when the Arab Spring took its first steps towards freedom in Tunisia, some believed that what happened would end in Tunisia itself, but what happened later was greater than their expectations. Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and other countries witnessed great revolutions and protests, some of which were met with violence while others were subject to conspiracy. Only Tunisia survived, and I pay tribute to it for its continuous progress of democracy and the election of a new parliament and president. Today, the Arab Spring is re-emerging, opening a new era. The most important achievement done nine years after the birth of the Arab Spring lies in the fact that the Arab world is no longer a safe place for tyrants.