MOVIMIENTO RIOS VIVOS, Colombia

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Social organization for Defending the territory, the human rights and the environment

RIOS VIVOS is a movement that brings together social organizations from the sub-regions of western, northern and lower Cauca to Antioquia, a department of northwestern Colombia. This initiative was created to deal with the fear generated by so much violence in the region and to spread hope among the people.

They are families of fishermen, muleteers, farmers, cooks, housewives, shopkeepers, women and young people from other sectors of rural life, organized in associations called, in most cases, Association of victims and people affected by megaprojects.

RIOS VIVOS pursues a twofold objective: to preserve the right to inhabit a territory, and defend the territory as living space and civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. They are also seeking to transform Colombia’s mining and energy policy, which has been seen as one of the causes of population displacement in recent decades.

RIOS VIVOS thus has a tradition of fighting against hydroelectric and mining megaprojects that cause human rights violations as well as serious and irreparable damage to the environment. Their actions and resistance, despite constant threats and attacks aimed at annihilating the population, have not only made possible their survival, but also the rebuilding the social fabric and consolidating peace. The fight against Hidroituango, the largest hydroelectric megaproject in Colombia, is considered emblematic because of the seriousness of the consequences it produces.

These eleven years of history have been times of resistance, resilience, and social fabric. RIOS VIVOS is constantly on the lookout for solutions, particularly peace in its region, beyond the harsh realities faced by communities: “At first we thought the idea of ​​protesting in front of the ‘monster’ was crazy that they would kill us on the first attempt or they would make us disappear, or throw us in jail, even some people continue to think and with reason, because all this was true, all this happened to us and continues to happen. First, large and small meetings, almost clandestine meetings, because the army and the police have made every effort from the beginning to avoid our meetings; a lot of coffee and one meeting after another in the cafeterias, in every park of the affected municipalities, we were talking in a low voice what to do, some said that anyway, if we stayed silent, they could also kill us, that doing nothing was no guarantee of being alive, but doing it either, that life on these lands has always been worth very little.”

RIOS VIVOS, like hundreds of organizations, is committed to peace in Colombia. In various ways, they call for peace with social justice, to guarantee human rights and to end foreign or domestic megaprojects that seek only to satisfy the economic interests of large corporations over life and culture of whole populations.

RIOS VIVOS expresses the feelings of many people and entire countries who are victims of the extractive industry around the world. Their voices and actions defy a monster. This process has a long trajectory, where it faces death, enforced disappearance, perpetual killings and environmental damage.

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More on (In Spanish) https://riosvivoscolombia.org/

 

Etienne De Jonghe – Belgium

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Builder of peace, engaged in the formation of international networks for the demilitarization, the disarmament, the reconciliation and the rights of the peoples.

Mr. Etienne De Jonghe grew up in Belgium in a Europe immersed in the uncertainties of the Cold War. After studying political science, international relations at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), and the sciences of peace and conflict at the Polemological Institute of the University of Groningen (the Netherlands, 1968-1970), he directed his professional life towards peace education. For thirty years he was Secretary General of Pax Christi International where he worked to consolidate and develop this movement born in 1945 for Franco-German reconciliation. When he retired in 2008, the movement has a hundred member organizations spread across worldwide.

Endowed with a strong contact capacity and a deep sense of justice, he has patiently woven links with citizens of Central and Eastern Europe who have engaged in civil society to advance respect for human rights. In critical years when Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo appeal to Pax Christi, Etienne helps to organize a continental network of groups and organizations that mobilize for peace and reconciliation. At the call of Archbishop Oscar Romero, El Salvador, and other circles in Colombia, Peru and Brazil, a continental network is taking shape in Latin America, in defense of communities affected by violent conflict and the mining industries.

Since retiring, Etienne has been participating in seminars, symposiums and conferences alongside people eager to create a world free from violence, for a lasting peace. His extensive knowledge of European institutions and East-West relations is thus used to create and organize new forums for dialogue to combat intolerance and the effects of populism. For more than thirty years, he has been interested in the role that major religions can play in promoting the conditions for a just and lasting peace, for example by participating in dialogues between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Also, he has regularly been involved in the CCADD, Christian Approaches to Demilitarization and Disarmament to organise annual gatherings.

Currently, he is active at the European Council of Religious Leaders; he sits on the boards of directors of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) based in Berlin and Brussels, the European Network on Religions and Beliefs (ENORB), and VIRA, a Dutch-Flemish association which organizes conferences on international affairs and brings together a large group of diplomats, journalists and academics in Brussels. Since 2018, in the name of Pax Christi International and with the leaders of Dutch civil society and two Polish faith-based organizations, Etienne has set up a four-year project (2018-2022) which is developing a network with faith-based civil society groups active in Central and Eastern Europe. The aim is to promote pluralistic democracy, dialogue and cooperation, in particular because of the rise of populism and authoritarianism on the European continent.

In short, by his faith, his convictions, his action, and with the constant support of his wife Magda Van Damme, Etienne De Jonghe is a true builder of peace. He is well deserving of this recognition by the Public Peace Prize.

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SOPEVUDECO-DRC-CONGO

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Social Development and Empowering the Most Vulnerable Elderly People Intervention Initiative.

SOPEVUDECO is an officially recognized organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo whose mission is to relieve the suffering of vulnerable groups or people in difficult situations and to promote a fair and equitable society, with a healthy environment where life is good.

The organization is active in the areas of poverty alleviation, human rights and peace promotion, food security, health, education, environment and sustainable development, among others.

Many elderly people in Kadutu live in difficult conditions due to lack of financial means, family support and state intervention. In many cases, these people have no home, no food or medical care. To help them, SOPEVUDECO ASBL has been looking after them since 2013.

The elderly are neglected and victims of many abuses related to their condition, both in their own families and in their communities. In Bukavu, the family situation of the elderly is alarming. They face many challenges including access to medical care, no activity for their empowerment and even, they lack housing.

The care of elderly people remains a headache in Bukavu: diseases, lack of housing and begging. Every Tuesday and Friday old people invade the arteries of the city of Bukavu to beg for money, food, clothing …; in commercial houses as in the streets to passers-by; many of them justify their situation for lack of assistance from their own families accusing them of several grievances until they are expelled from their homes. Grief, shock, violence, abuse and even accusations of witchcraft are all traumas experienced by seniors every day.

This initiative aims to promote the social development of the most vulnerable population of the elderly through food assistance, the provision of kitchen kits and the construction of their homes: an intervention that is important to relieve these neglected people and without assistance.

Third-age people live in loneliness and isolation. SOPEVUDECO makes every effort to socialize this category of people, educate and ensure the survival of orphans and vulnerable children of their families. In return, every effort should be made to support as much as possible SOPEVUDECO.

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Rehmat Aziz Khan Chitrali – Pakistan

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The Voice of the Communities without Voice, Pacifist and Defender of Human Rights for all

Rehmat Aziz Chitrali lives in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, and is a linguist, poet, author, translator, social activist, cultural researcher, human rights activist, volunteer, keyboards developer and Inventor.

As peacemaker he works on countering violent extremism in Pakistan. He spreads the message of peace through his initiative “My language and my poetry for Peace”. He works on the conflict resolution issues between the villagers, mainly between men and women. He is known for his ability to mobilize people and resources for peacebuilding. Rehmat Aziz has wide-ranging experience in advocating for systemic change relating to women and youth’s inclusion in prevention, conflict resolution, peacebuilding and security at a regional level.

Committed to protecting the human rights of young women, girls and children in Pakistan; he is convincing the parents to admit their girls in school for imparting mother language education. Through his initiative “Stop Forced Marriage” he is also fighting against the forced marriage of young girls with aged men. He is also fighting against the physical torture, violence against women and girls in this man dominated society. He is mobilizing women and girls for peacebuilding in their areas.

He is world record holder in the field of linguistics and IT. He is the first person in the world to create software which allows the typing of 40 ‎endangered languages on a single platform. While living in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province during the Taliban regime, Rehmat Aziz created ‎Khowar Wikipedia on the internet and wrote Khowar language articles on topics the Taliban ‎discouraged, namely education, human rights, youth rights, peace, women’s rights, Children rights, fundamental rights, mother language education for boys and girls in primary level and the ‎preservation of regional endangered languages in northern Pakistan and played an active role for mother languages.  In spite of the region’s struggles with remoteness and security tensions, Rehmat Aziz has continued to ‎promote the Khowar language and its development along with the other 69 regional endangered languages of Pakistan. He is well known for his linguistics acumen, integrity, sincerity to the cause of language and culture documentation and dedication to the profession. His literary and linguistic works promoted essential qualities for a progressive society such as gender equality, love and affection, dedication to service, truthfulness, tolerance for each other, peace and inter provincial linguistic harmony.

He has already been awarded many national and international awards, gold medals, recognitions on excellent performance, contribution and dedicated works towards linguistics. He continues to pursue his activities in linguistics and literary works for mother languages and is a source of inspiration for younger generations.

He has participated in the United Nations Youth Forum on behalf of Pakistan. He has worked as voice over artist in the first ever Khowar environmental film namely Markhoor. His voice and art are widely applauded in the Khowar speaking community. He has been justly called “The Linguistic Mastermind” by the Pakistani civil society organization “My Voice Unheard”. Another civil society organization “Bolo Jawan” has also called him “The Preservers of Languages”.

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More on:

https://www.poemhunter.com/rehmat-azizchitrali/biography/

https://tribune.com.pk/story/791766/tech-talk-typing-in-tongues-now-a-click-away/

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HECHO EN LIBERTAD, MEXICO

 

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Youth Reintegration Initiative in the Context of Crime, Prison and Violence

HECHO EN LIBERTAD (Made in Freedom) was born in Mexico and seeks to strengthen the economic power of youth in the context of prison, crime and violence to provide an economic alternative to social reintegration through participatory methodologies.

This intervention model, HECHO EN LIBERTAD, is an initiative of INSADE AC Interculturalidad Salud y Derechos, a non-profit civil organization that works continuously with people living in contexts of poverty, violence and marginalization for more than 10 years. These include children, adolescents and young people in conflict with the law, in conditional release, in situations of risk and social vulnerability in Mexico City, the State of Mexico, Tlaxcala and Nuevo León.

HECHO IN LIBERTAD was born to answer the concerns of teenagers and their desire to progress. Adolescents entering detention centers are stigmatized as “juvenile offenders” and in most cases they are forced to participate in programs where nothing is done because “they will not change”. When young people leave these centers, reintegration opportunities are minimal. Many of them are inclined to choose an easy path, to return to crime and, consequently, to increase the probability of being in a prison.

In this context, HECHO EN LIBERTAD has begun the phase of entrepreneurial skills and access to financial resources. First, teens propose a possible business model to realize from their reality, and then, they are linked to partners who can grant them credit. Some companies have been interested in contributing to the cause of this association and providing funding.

HECHO IN LIBERTAD has helped more than 2,300 young people and granted about 50 credits. Although this is a relatively new association, it has had a 100% success rate in its 11 years of existence, and none of the youth it has worked with has reoffended. These young people are only looking for opportunities for reintegration into working life and not being stigmatized. This is where the success of this model lies.

HECHO EN LIBERTAD has its own brand, with its own website and Facebook where it sells products that young entrepreneurs do inside and outside these centers. Thanks to the work of the project HECHO IN LIBERTAD, thousands of young people have found a second chance to change their future and build a better country.

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More on: http://hechoenlibertad.org.mx/

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