(Washington D.C., January 4, 2021) – Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Yemeni human rights activist Tawakkol Karman, and Civil Rights Law Professor Sahar Aziz have joined the board of directors of the U.S.-based Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the organization announced today.
"We are honored to include Karman and Aziz, two of the most prominent voices championing democracy and human rights in the Arab world, to lead our organization as members of our board of directors," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of DAWN. "With their guidance and support, we will further Jamal Khashoggi's legacy to push for freedom in the Middle East and North Africa and ensure that the international community is helping, not hindering, this quest."
Tawakkol Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition for her non-violent struggle for democracy and her advocacy for women's rights in Yemen. Karman has been imprisoned on a number of occasions for her pro-democracy and pro-human rights protests. Amongst Yemen's youth movement, she is known as "mother of the revolution," "the iron woman," and the Lady of the Arab Spring. She is a human rights activist, journalist, politician, founder of the Peaceful Youth Revolution Council, and the founder of the Tawakkol Karman International Foundation.
TIME Magazine described her as a 'Torchbearer of the Arab Spring' and named her both one of the 100 most influential women defining the last century and one of the Most Rebellious Women in History. She was a member of the High-Level Panel of eminent persons on the post-2015 Development Agenda. She is also a board member of the Facebook oversight board and the Nobel Women's initiative.
"DAWN's mission to promote rights and democracy — and an end to tyranny still strangling the Middle East — is also my mission and my life's work, so I'm honored to join as a board member," said Tawakkol Karman. "I believe DAWN's work will help give voice to the voices of political exiles and defenders of freedom from the region and to develop policies centered on ensuring that governments around the world are helping, not hindering, human rights and justice."
Professor Sahar Aziz is a civil rights activist and law professor at Rutgers University School of Law, focusing on national security, terrorism and authoritarianism. She is the founding director of the Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights and an editor for the Arab Law Quarterly and the International Journal of Middle East Studies. Professor Aziz was named a 2020 Middle Eastern and North African American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leader by New America. She appears regularly in domestic and international media as a writer and commentator.
"Now more than ever, the defense of human rights is a shared obligation of our global community of citizens, activists, and policymakers, said Sahar Aziz. "Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) offers the expertise, moral commitment, and tenacity needed to continue Arabs' demonstrated desire for and right to human rights, democracy, and social justice."
DAWN, founded in 2018 by Jamal Khashoggi and board members Nihad Awad, Dr. Esam Omeish, and Asim Ghafoor, was relaunched earlier this year under the leadership of its new Executive Director, Sarah Leah Whitson. DAWN works to promote democracy and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa by investigating abuses and exposing the worst abusers in the region, providing an institutional home for the voices of political exiles and experts on the region through its publication, "Democracy in Exile," and advocating for an end to US support for abusive governments in the region.