Pax Christi International makes it a point to honour men and women who stand up for peace, justice, and nonviolence across the globe.
In publications and posters, Pax Christi Member Organisations often tell the stories of well-known peace heroes such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Franz Jägerstätter, and the martyrs of El Salvador.
But we do not look only into the past for our heroes. Pax Christi International makes an annual peace award to a contemporary figure who is working against violence and injustice, usually at the grassroots level.
2019 Pax Christi International Peace Laureate
European Lawyers in Lesvos
Pax Christi International is pleased to announce that the European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL), based in Greece, is the recipient of the 2019 Pax Christi International Peace Award..
One of the very few providers of legal assistance on the Greek island of Lesvos (also known as Lesbos, a focal point of mass immigration into Europe), ELIL was founded in June 2016 by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the German Bar Association (DAV). These organisations represent the bars and law societies of 32 member countries and 13 further associate and observer countries across Europe, and through them more than one million European lawyers.
Since that time, along with a small permanent staff, almost 150 volunteer asylum lawyers from 17 countries have provided free legal assistance to more than 9,000 people, most of whom are from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. ELIL is the largest provider of legal assistance to asylum seekers on Lesvos and is the primary provider of legal assistance to unaccompanied minors who have been incorrectly registered as adults (over 500 cases in total) and asylum seekers in detention (almost 200 cases in total). In addition to other services, ELIL also helps reunite families by assisting with family reunification applications under the Dublin Regulation
The press release is available here.
Peace Award Laureates, 1988-2018
No Boundaries Coalition, a nonprofit organisation connecting several diverse West Baltimore (Maryland, USA) neighbourhoods focused on public safety, access to healthy food, accountability of elected officials and voter registration drives. In 2016, in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, a young African American man who died while in police custody in April 2015, they published “Over Policed Yet Underserved: The People’s Findings Regarding Police Misconduct in West Baltimore,” which was ultimately cited by the U.S. Department of Justice and reported to the United Nations.
ZODEVITE, the Movimiento Indígena del Pueblo Creyente Zoque en Defensa de la Vida y la Tierra (the Indigenous Movement of the Zoque Believing People in Defense of Life and the Earth) as representatives of a wider movement, MOVEDITE, composed of indigenous groups, that in recent years has waged a nonviolent campaign to stop fracking, oil exploitation and mining business in southern Mexico.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan as representatives of the nonviolent struggle of the human rights community in Pakistan and for their clear and courageous stand against persistent patterns of violence and human rights violations.
The Women, Peace and Security Collective for Reflection and Action in Colombia: for making visible and encouraging the essential contribution of women to peacebuilding in their country.
Jesuit Refugee Service Syria for its outstanding dedication in providing emergency relief to Syrians since the war began in 2011 and for promoting peace and reconciliation among divided communities in the country.
International Memorial Society, a historical and civil rights society in Russia, for its outstanding work in keeping alive the memory of the victims of political repression in Russia's recent history and for its deep commitment to human rights in the country.
Msgr. Dr. John Onaiyekan: Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, for his efforts in promoting understanding between people of different faiths through dialogue in Africa, and particularly in his country, Nigeria.
PONTANIMA: Interreligious choir from Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina, illustrating the peace-building potential of religions and the healing power music brings to people who suffer.
Msgr. Louis Sako: Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, Iraq, for being a prominent defender of Iraq’s endangered minorities and a staunch advocate of the difficult democratization and reconciliation process in Iraq.
Ms. Justine Masika Bihamba: in Goma, North Kivu (DRCongo), for her work improving the lives of rural women, defend human rights and assist victims of war, especialy women who have been targeted by acts of sexual violence.
Franciscan Dom Luiz Flávio Cappio: Bishop of Barra in the state of Bahia, Brazil, for his nonviolent action in favour of the fisher folk and river inhabitants endangered by the Sâo Francisco river transposition project, as well as to the local community itself that was so active in the movement against the river transposition project.
The Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace: in Tokyo, Japan, for its commitment to healing women of wartime sexual violence through therapeutic methods by sharing feelings in comfortable atmospheres.
Ms Ogarit Younan: a founding member of the Lebanese Association for Civil Rights as well as the Arab Non-Violence Network, for her zeal in promoting non-violence and democracy through housing initiatives and publications.
Mr Rami Khoury: a Palestinian-Jordanian and veteran editor, columnist and reporter for the Lebanese English Language Paper, the Daily Star, for his work (among other things) as a member of the Brookings Institution Task Force on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World and a frequent lecturer on Middle Eastern issues at conferences and universities throughout the world.
Jacques Delors: a French statesman and former European Commission President for his vision and contribution to peace and security on the continent, in addition to his efforts in strengthening Europe’s role in peace building around the world.
Sergio Vieira de Mello: the Brazilian UN High Commissioner for Human Rights And UN Special Representative in Iraq, for being a champion of peace and human dignity worldwide and for giving his life to his work.
Franjo Starcevic: for founding the Peace School in Mrkopalj, Croatia.
Father Roberto Layson: (Philippines) for building a culture of peace among Christians, Muslims and indigenous people in an area of armed conflict.
Eddie Kneebone: for promoting reconciliation between young Australians.
Ms Teesta Setavald: an Indian journalist and tireless campaigner for greater inter-religious dialogue in Asia.
Ann Pettifor and Laura Vargas: from the United Kingdom and Peru respectively, for their work on the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel the debts of developing countries.
The Clonard Fitzroy Fellowship: from Northern Ireland, for their Catholic-Presbyterian initiative to unite people in a divided community.
Laurien Ntezimana and Father Modeste Mungwarareba: for training young leaders in Rwanda to be agents of reconciliation between ethnic groups.
Father Domingos Soares and Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz: for their work on education, development and dignity of people in poor communities in East Timor.
Franjo Komarica, bishop of Banja Luka, Hadzi Halilovic, mufti of Banja Luka (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Jelena Santic (Serbia) and Gordana Stojanovic (Croatia) for promoting reconciliation amidst the hostilities.
Janina Ochojska: founder of the Poland Humanitarian Action, for organising humanitarian relief convoys to Chechnya and the former Yugoslavia.
Father José Mpundu E’Booto: from Zaire, co-founder of the Groupe Amos, for fighting against corruption and promoting justice, peace and democracy.
Ray Williams and Dorraine Booth-Williams: from the USA, members of the Swinomish American Indian nation, for promoting the cultures and traditions of indigenous peoples in Central, North and South America.
Joaquim Pinto de Andrade: founding member of the Popular Movement for the Liberation in Angola, for his advocacy for freedom and civil rights and for his contribution to the post-war reconstruction of his country.
Osservatorio Meridionale: a research centre in Italy, for challenging the power of the Mafia and promoting development in poor areas of southern Italy.
Dana Nemcova: a Czech woman who championed the cause of human rights and democratic values whilst enduring periods of detention and separation from her family.
Father Luis Pérez Aguirre: for enduring repeated torture and imprisonment by the military dictatorship in Uruguay due to his non-violent activities for justice and human rights.
Margarida Maria Alves: President of the Farmworkers Union in Brazil, for giving her life in the struggle for the rights of poor rural workers. She was assassinated in 1983.