Nobel Peace Prize winner calls for Britain and the West to get tough on Yemen's president


Tawakkul Karman at the Nobel Peace Prize concert last weekend.



Last weekend in Stockholm, Tawwakul Karman was one of three women - political activists from the developing world - to receive this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Karman was singled out for her leadership of the non-violent struggle to bring democracy and human rights, especially for women, to her homeland, Yemen. She is the youngest person ever to win the presitigous honor.

Non-violence may be her strategy but that doesn't mean she goes for a softly-softly approach to politics. She argues her positions with the fierceness of a boxer if her performance at a meeting at the House of Commons today is anything to go by.

The Nobel laureate is on her way back to Yemen but has stopped off here to visit with the Yemeni diaspora community in Britain.

Before meeting British MP's, members of her community and the press at Parliament she had talks with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague at the Foreign Office - a not very satisfactory meeting from the sound of it.

"You didn't do your duty yet," Karman said. "Not like you did in Egypt, not like you did in Tunisia."

What she was referring to was freezing the assets of Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh. In the uprisings in Tunis and Egypt one of the early actions of the West in support of the people in the street was to freeze the billions of dollars the dictators who ruled those countries had stashed in western banks.

That has not happened with Yemen.

"It is not his money," Karman reminded her audience. "It is the money of the people."

She also criticized the case by case policy with which Britain, the U.S. and other countries have dealt with the uprisings around the Arab world. She called for consistent support for all the revolutions taking place.

"Human rights is human rights. Democracy is democracy. You don't support these things by half. You don't stand with one country but don't stand with another." The implied criticism of leaders like President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron was clear - don't work actively to establish human rights in Egypt or Libya while ignoring their abuse in Yemen or Bahrain.

Karman said she was told in her meeting with the Foreign Secretary that the British government would wait for three months to see if Saleh abides by his pledge to stand down from the presidency. She criticized that decision saying Saleh was a liar and the time to act was now.