TOKYO, May 10, 2012 — The Niwano Peace Foundation has awarded the 29th Niwano Peace Prize to Ms. Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez of Guatemala.
The presentation ceremony took place in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, May 10th. In addition to an award certificate, Ms. Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez will receive a medal and twenty million yen.
Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez is a courageous human rights activist and leader. This is the first time that a practitioner of an indigenous religious tradition (Mayan beliefs and spiritual practices) has been awarded this prize. She lives and works in Guatemala, a country that has for many decades suffered extraordinary violence and internal strife. The indigenous population has been systematically excl uded from mainstream society, traditional faith wisdom has been ignored, and women are both victims of many forms of violence (sexual and economic among them), racism and discrimination. But at the same time they are a source of strength and resilience. Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez shows the way towards a more just and inclusive future and a new culture of peace.
To avoid undue emphasis on any particular religion or region, every year the Peace Foundation solicits nominations from people of recognized intellectual and religious stature around the world. In the nomination process, some 700 people and organizations, representing 125 countries and many religions, are asked to propose candidates. Nominations are rigorously screened by the Niwano Peace Prize Committee, which was set up in May of 2003 on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Niwano Peace Prize. The Committee presently consists of twelve religious leaders from various parts of the world, all of whom are involved in movements for peace and inter -religious cooperation.
Here are some comments by members of the Peace Prize Committee on the selection of Ms. Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez for this year’s award:
– Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez belongs to the Maya-Kaqchikel ethnic group. She fights so that the Gu atemalan State will admit its responsibility for the arrest, disappearance and death of thousands of Guatemalan people. She tries to overcome her terror and embraces life. She demands justice and dreams of peace, respect towards women, and the well being o f the indigenous people. She belongs to a religious agricultural family. She lives with the spirituality of the Mayans. (Rev. Phramaha Boonchay Doojai)
– The award is a recognition of the work for peace carried out by indigenous people – in this case, an indigenous woman. A recognition of the values of the indigenous culture in Latin America as well as in other continents [is] much needed in today’s world of identity crises. Till now the Niwano Peace Prize has not been conferred on indigenous people. (Ms. Christina Lee)
– Rosalina is an inspiring example of how victims of discrimination, based in their Faith, are empowered by working together to defeat human rights violations and other actions that continue to offend and damage them as long as they continue to develop initiatives to settle the internal war and reach a Peace Accord for their country. As Rosalina’s path demonstrates, local indigenous spirituality has a global dimension when is inter-connected with similar Faiths. (Mr. Samuel Lobato)
The Niwano Peace Prize
The Niwano Peace Foundation established the Niwano Peace Prize to honor and encourage individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to inter-religious cooperation, thereby furthering the cause of world peace, and to make their achievements known as widely as possible. The Foundation hopes in this way both to enhance inter-religious understanding and cooperation and to encourage the emergence of still more persons devoted to working for world peace.
The Prize is named in honor of the founder and first president of the lay Buddhist organization Rissho Kosei-kai, Nikkyo Niwano. For Niwano, peace was not merely an absence of conflict among nations, but a dynamic harmony in the inner lives of people as well a s in our communities, nations and the world. Seeing peace as the goal of Buddhism, Niwano devoted much of the last half of his life to promoting world peace, especially through inter-religious discussion and cooperation.
Past Niwano Peace Prize recipient s are:
1. Archbishop Helder P. Camara (1983)
2. Dr. Homer A. Jack (1984)
3. Mr. Zhao Puchu (1985)
4. Dr. Philip A. Potter (1986)
5. The World Muslim Congress (1987)
6. Rev. Etai Yamada (1989)
7. Mr. Norman Cousins (1990
8. Dr. Hildegard Goss-Mayr (1991)
9. Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne (1992)
10. Neve Shalom/ Wahat al -Salam (1993)
11. Paulo Evaristo Cardinal Arns (1994)
12. Dr. M. Aram (1995)
13. Ms. Marii K. Hasegawa (1996)
14. The Corrymeela Community (1997)
15. Ven. Maha Ghosananda (1998)
16. The Community of Sant’Egidio (1999)
17. Dr. Kang Won Yong (2000)
18. Rev. Abuna Elias Chacour (2001)
19. Rev. Samuel Ruiz Garcia (2002)
20. Dr. Priscilla Elworthy (2003)
21. The Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative (2004)
22. Dr. Hans Küng (2005)
23. Rabbis for Human Rights (2006)
24. Dharma Master Cheng Yen (2007)
25. His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal (2008)
26. Rev. Canon Gideon Baguma Byamugisha (2009)
27. Ms. Ela Ramesh Bhatt (2010)
28. Mr. Sulak Sivaraksa (2011)
The Niwano Peace Foundation
The Niwano Peace Foundation was chartered in 1978 to contribute to the realization of world peace and the enhancement of a culture of peace. The Foundation promotes research and other activities based on a religious spirit and serves the cause of peace in such fields as education, science, religion and philosophy. The Foundation’s endowment of about 3.8 billion yen makes possible the Niwano Peace Prize and other activities such as grants, research projects, lectures, symposia, and international exchanges. The Niwano Peace Foundation is a government-recognized charitable organization. Contributions are tax-deductible..