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ABOUT THE PUBLIC PEACE PRIZE
How many men, women and organizations have dedicated a large part of their existence to resolving conflicts and creating conditions for peace, but will never be recognized?
Yes, every year prestigious awards are presented to a number of artisans of peace who distinguish themselves by their efforts, courage and ceaseless work in the name of a just, lasting and constructive peace. However, how many individuals, who are just as devoted but less visible, remain little known?
The Public Peace Prize (PPP), established in 2013 by a team of ordinary citizens, has the specific mission of making known to the general public the less known local, national and international peacemakers and peace initiatives.
This citizen’s initiative is in keeping with the spirit of collaboration and open sharing which is proper to new media. Anyone may: propose a nominee by following simple instructions; support candidates when they have been validated and posted on the Peace Prize’s site and its Facebook page; post / share nominee profiles and their actions for peace on their own social media networks.
The nomination process and the public’s supportive actions conclude with the announcement of the recipients during a day of online celebration of peace initiatives and peacemakers. While the PPP does not award cash prizes, it greatly contributes to the recognition of the laureates.
A GROWING INITIATIVE IN REVIEW
The First Recipients of the Public Peace Prize – 2014
Launched in November 2013, the first edition of the PPP received 28 nominations from 13 countries in two months. Among them was Dr. Denis MUKWEGE from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who opened a hospital to provide health care to women victims of rape. Another nominee was a young woman from Pakistan, Malala YOUSAFZAI, who would later receive the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her courage and determination in promoting access to education for girls and women around the world.
Nominations were divided into three categories: local, national and international, and more than 4,450 nominations were received.
The esteemed Amazonian Chief RAONI was voted International Public Peace Prize Laureate for his contribution to the preservation of indigenous cultures and the rain forest. Recipient of the same award was Palestinian doctor from Gaza, Izzeldin ABUELAISH, an important figure in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Three of his daughters and a niece were killed in 2009 when his house was shelled. These events inspired him to write the book I Shall Not Hate.
The public awarded the Public Peace Prize in the category Local Peacemakers to a PERSON WITH DOWN SYNDROME in recognition of the ability of people with Down syndrome to radiate simplicity and peace in a supportive environment.
The intermediate category, Emerging Peacemaker, was awarded to a person who was already active internationally, but not yet recognized. The public selected a Canadian teacher, Marie-Marcelle DESMARAIS, director of the Institut de formation humaine intégrale de Montréal (IFHIM). She initiated the Bridge Builders for Peace training program, which is currently active on several continents.
The Public Peace Prize’s Second Edition – 2015
In 2015, 143,635 support actions for one or another of the PPP candidates were recorded on social media.
Quebec photographer, author, and playwright Philippe DUCROS, whose works shares his heightened awareness and concern for the situation in Palestine, received overwhelming public support in the Emerging Peacemaker category.
Dr. Michel ENGLEBERT of Belgium, a former member of Doctors without Borders, was voted Public Peace Prize Laureate in the Local Peacemaker category for creating an enabling environment for adults with disabilities, regardless of their differences.
The Public Peace Prize in the Internationally-reputed Peacemaker category attracted a large number of votes, mainly from India. Spiritual leader Dr. VASANTH VIJAJJI MAHARAJ‘s message is one of harmony, unity and universal community, of reconciliation, and peace between families, citizens and nations. His vision is to provide peace and education on non-violence to children and youth.
For the 2015 edition, new award categories were added. The laureate in the Solidarity Peace Group category was the IBAKWE association for its work with genocide survivors in Rwanda.
The Peace Weaver award was presented to Mabel KATZ, an American television show host and speaker, originally from Argentina. She highlights a peace process inspired by a Hawaiian spiritual practice called Ho’oponopono.
The Public Peace Prize’s Third Edition – 2016
Narine DAT SOOKRAM, a Canadian originally from Guyana, represents the rich social and economic contribution made by immigrants. He was awarded the 2016 Public Peace Prize in the Social Integration and Community Peacemaker category for his work.
Antoinette LAYOUN is a therapist and a yoga master in Quebec, Canada. She came away from her experience as a child soldier in Lebanon filled with the strength to love, and now artfully teaches ways to inner peace. She received the 2016 Public Peace Prize as Personal Peace Weaver and Social Peacemaker.
Suzanne LOISELLE, another peace and justice activist from Quebec, Canada, advocates for peace and justice between northern and southern countries. She affirms through her words and actions that peace is not possible without justice, and that without analysis there is no solidarity. She has been the director of Entraide missionnaire for the past 30 years.
The public presented the Global Peace and Internationally Recognized Reconciliation Peacemaker award to two predominant peace activists:
Marie DENNIS of the United States, a respected icon of peace and reconciliation movements on an international scale. She contributes compassion, skillful advocacy and spiritual wisdom to intercultural and inter religious dialogue, indispensable to world peace; and to,
Michael LAPSLEY of South Africa, an anti-apartheid activist who was severely injured by a parcel bomb. He is recognized for his disarming strength that transforms wounds into powerful healing and reconciliation. He founded the Institute for Healing Memories.
The Public Peace Prize’s Fourth Edition – 2017
The Public Peace Prize organizers realize that for peacemakers in certain countries, where their lives are often threatened, support actions from other regions of the globe are vital to allow them to continue their work.
The PPP’s 2017 edition is a good example: Twenty individuals and organizations from Africa (Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria), the Middle East (Yemen), Asia (India, Pakistan), the Americas (Colombia, United States) and Europe (France) were proposed.
At this time, the PPP also introduced young voices for peace to the public:
Elliot Hillary DOGBE, then only 12 years old from Ghana, is a peace ambassador and was the voice for children during a turbulent election campaign period.
Khairatul SAIDU was 17 years old at the time, a Nigerian peace activist fighting for the rights of inhumanly sentenced prisoners. She also hosts an online forum for youth to share ideas about peace.
A youth initiative from South of Barranquilla, Colombia, called PAZABORDO, encourages a culture of peace and the construction of neighborhoods’ local memory through radio.
Coraline PARMENTIER was 21 years old in 2017, a French pianist originally from Africa. She learned the music of the Middle East and offers concerts in order to help bring people and cultures together.
Also among the 2017 laureates are mediators dedicated to conflict resolution and peace promotion:
After witnessing the killing of his mother, brother and sister, Timothy Michael ADEPOJU became a dedicated peace activist whose day-to-day life demonstrates his belief that, as his slogan says, “Peace is possible in Nigeria.”
Actively involved in peacemaking in Cameroon, Patrick Tocko MALOUM is an expert in international conflict resolution. He has worked in the Central African Republic, Côte-d’Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with civil society organizations and UN missions to support conflict resolution, disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration of child soldiers into society.
In Pakistan, Zubair TORWALI, an author, researcher, and human, social and cultural rights activist, is the most powerful voice for the rights of all the marginalized linguistic communities in the northern regions of Pakistan.
AAGHAZ-E-DOSTI, (which means “beginning of friendship”) is an initiative made up of citizens from both India and Pakistan. Together they works against all odds on both sides of the border to create havens of peace and friendship between the two traditionally rival communities.
The Public Peace Prize’s Fifth and Sixth editions – 2018 and 2019
New in 2018: a less competitive prize emphasizing mutual aid and collaboration of the candidates’ support teams.
The proposals made by the public during these two years shone the light on nearly twenty different peacemakers and peace initiatives. They revealed women and men repairing social fractures, acting with passion out of respect for human dignity, justice and the environment, all elements of sustainable peace. A common thread: social inclusion through education. Laureates are committed to using basic education as an indispensable tool for the successful social integration of young people.
In Mexico, MARIA DEL CARMEN FUENTES QUESADA dedicated 60 years of her life to the poorest people by creating workshops for youth to learn a trade, so that they can access a dignified life, with tolerance, compassion, solidarity, mutual aid and social inclusion.
Also in Mexico, the initiative HECHO EN LIBERTAD (which means “Made in Freedom”) began in Mexico City to strengthen the economic power of young people in the context of prison, crime and violence, offering them an economic alternative to social reintegration through participatory methodologies.
In Colombia, the community radio initiative PAZALAMUJER bears witness to the courageous commitment of young women who are learning to communicate by broadcasting proposals on peace building and the right to a life without violence.
In Argentina, INÉS PALOMEQUE distinguished herself as an educator dedicated to the prevention of violence among children and youth, and to the implementation of pacifist and solidarity initiatives that contribute to the establishment of a culture of peace.
In Pakistan, MIRAJ BIBI is a teacher recognized for her dedication and determination to relentlessly promote the education of disadvantaged women and children beyond social and cultural prejudices, becoming a symbol of social commitment to the service of the poor.
In Morocco, ZAKARIA EL HAMEL distinguished himself for his commitment to peace and human rights, promoting dialogue that can strengthen understanding, respect and peace between people of different cultures and religions.
The same concern for social inclusion characterizes the creation of WORLD DAY OF THE BOY CHILD, launched in 2018 to reduce the vulnerability of boys to poor school performance, to be used as child soldiers or forced into early full-time work, as well as the growing incidence of depression and suicide. Started in Trinidad and Tobago at the instigation of Jerome Teelucksingh, and widely disseminated in the United States, this day is an extension of the INTERNATIONAL MEN’S DAY which was created to help men rethink their identities and roles in a society rebuilding lifestyles and cultural relationships.
Groups and individuals defending human rights, democracy and sustainable development:
In Colombia, the group MOVIMIENTO RIOS VIVOS (Living Rivers) sows hope among populations facing death, forced disappearances and massacres perpetrated in the context of hydraulic works. Exposed to reprisals, its leaders set a remarkable example of courage, resilience, resistance and dignity.
In Pakistan, police officer DUR KHAN received the Public Peace Prize for his perseverance in the quest for peace and conflict resolution, placing the promotion of human rights for all, especially women, and respect for the environment at the heart of his mandate.
In Cameroon, the newspaper THE EYE won public support for its program to promote democratic tolerance, which has helped rebuild the coexistence of different communities in a country marked by political violence.
NILANJANA SANYAL, an artist committed to peace in Pakistan, sees peace as the fruit of social justice. She contributes by reflecting on current and future challenges of sustainable and inclusive development for rural populations, the poor, the disadvantaged, the physically handicapped, and is concerned about the future of girls.
On a different theme, SAFECITY, a virtual initiative to improve the safety of women and girls in urban areas, was recognized for its contribution to peace and social harmony. This virtual platform based in India and the United States promotes equal access to public spaces for all, especially women.
Active in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the organization SOPEVUDECO was recognized for its fight against poverty, for the promotion of human rights, peace, food security and social development of the most vulnerable elderly people.
Outstanding peace builders recognized in 2018 and 2019
Artists for peace and the environment based in the United States, DAVID and RENATE JAKUPCA introduced a revolutionary approach combining economy, culture, and technology to promote peace in harmony with nature. Promoting a culture of sustainable peace among all living beings is their mission and their life’s work. Together they founded the International Center for Environmental Arts (ICEA) in Cleveland, Ohio in 1987 to help citizens learn about the latest updates on complex global issues.
Active for thirty years in the Pax Christi International movement, ÉTIENNE DE JONGHE from Belgium, contributed his personal gifts and convictions to the reconciliation of Eastern and Western European cultures. This peace builder continues to work on strengthening relations between civil societies and religions through his commitment to pluralist democracy and human rights for all.
REHMAT AZIZ KHAN CHITRALI, renowned in Pakistan for his poetry and his work as a linguist, took up the challenge of creating a software program allowing to write 40 endangered languages on a single platform. A promoter of education for all, promoting tolerance and linguistic harmony among highly diverse populations, he also uses his literary and linguistic work to defend the dignity and rights of women against violence and abuse in a male-dominated society marked by violent extremism.
After seeing the living conditions of young people from lower castes in India, LENIN RAGHUVANSHI participated in founding the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), which promotes the rights of workers, Dalits and marginalized groups by supporting teachers and trainers from non-violent local communities. An enthusiastic and courageous leader, he holds a luminous vision that mobilizes hope in building the future with the NEO-DALITS, a movement that now extends beyond India’s borders.
Following events that have devastated cities and threatened world security, we are forced to admit that acts of violence are over-covered in comparison to the coverage made of peace initiatives. If violence is so viral, is it possible to make peace actions contagious?
In order to create a movement of empathy and trust in the possibility of peace, it is essential to acknowledge the concrete actions achieved by witnesses working for a just and sustainable peace.
The challenge is surmounting paralyzing fear and escaping from indifference which “finds expression in disinterest and a lack of engagement, which only help to prolong situations of injustice and grave social imbalance,” according to Pope Francis.
The Public Peace Prize stands firm in wanting to give peace a voice. It fulfils its mission insofar as the public helps us discover artisans of peace of diverse cultures and religions. From diversity comes dialogue and the ability to understand others – so essential to real peace.
Wanted: Volunteers and Correspondents
The People’s Peace Prize is looking for writers, translators, communicators, artists, musicians and correspondents in different countries to contribute to the process of acknowledging world peace initiatives and artisans of peace!