On the sidelines of the International Press Institute (IPI)’s World Congress last month in Qatar, IPI interviewed Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Yemeni journalist Tawakkol Karman on the state of press freedom in the Middle East.
In the interview, Karman criticised in particular an ongoing regional ‘counterrevolution’ for rolling back gains in human rights, including free expression, fought for during the recent Arab Spring.
“The counterrevolution has started to weaken the right of freedom of expression,”she said. “[And] not just the right of journalists, but […] the expression rights for citizens. We are talking about citizen journalists as well as [professional] journalists themselves.”
During her keynote speech at the Congress’s opening ceremony on March 19, Karman painted a bleak picture of free expression in the Middle East region. “Now, freedom of expression does not exist,” she told the audience. “People are slaughtered in the streets for their continued struggle for freedom of expression.”
Karman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work” in Yemen.