Pacem in Terris Award

  • In September 2017, the Pacem in Terris Coalition named Dr. Widad Akreyi as the recipient of the Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) Peace and Freedom Award for "her lifelong commitment to peace and justice for human dignity for all." The Most reverend Bishop Thomas Zinkula presented the Award to Widad on October 22nd in St. Ambrose University's Christ the King Chapel in Davenport, USA.
  • Widad became the youngest recipient of the Award and the first Pacem honouree to receive the Davenport mayor medal.
  • She donated her honorarium from the Award to the charitable projects of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary.
  • On October 23rd, the Quad City Times ran a front-page article by Thomas Geyer who had attended the ceremony at St. Ambrose University. He emphasised that Widad earned her place among the world's brightest brokers of peace.

 

“The 2017 Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award is presented to Dr. Widad Akreyi, PhD by Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula of the Diocese of Davenport and the Pacem in Terris Coalition of the Quad Cities in light of your lifelong commitment to peace and justice. You have worked tirelessly for peace and justice and advocate for human dignity for all in the Middle East. Your mission has been to save lives, alleviate suffering and promoting peace and equal rights and opportunities for all. Your fearless documentation of torture and other human rights violations, as well as your pursuit of justice through medical research and the monitoring of peace initiatives. Your findings regarding crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing have brought horrific acts to light for all the world to see. You embody the words of Pope John XXIII in his encyclical Pacem in Terris as a 'spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying leaven' to your sisters and brothers around the world. Given on this 22nd day of October 2017 in Davenport, Iowa”

 

 

The Pacem in Terris Coalition

The coalition consists of the Diocese of Davenport, The Catholic Messenger, St. Ambrose University, The Presidential Center for Faith and Learning at Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.; Churches United of the Quad City Area; Islamic Center of Quad Cities; Quad Cities Interfaith; Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities; Muslim Community of the Quad Cities; Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Sisters of St. Benedict; Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa; and Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton.

“You have been selected by the Pacem in Terris Coalition for your fearless documentation of torture and other human rights violations, as well as your pursuit of justice through medical research and the monitoring of peace initiatives. Your findings regarding crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing have brought horrific acts to light for all the world to see. You embody the words of Pope John XXIII in his encyclical Pacem in Terris as a 'spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying leaven' to your sisters and brothers around the world.” ~ Most Reverend Thomas Zinkula, Bishop of Davenport, July 2017

 

Press Releases Issued by Defend International

Dr. Widad Akreyi Selected as Recipient of Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award

Oslo-Iowa, September 29, 2017 - Bishop Thomas Zinkula will present the 47th Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award to Dr. Widad Akreyi. The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. on October 22nd in St. Ambrose University's Christ the King Chapel in Davenport.

The Pacem in Terris Coalition has selected Dr. Widad Akreyi, an international humanitarian and human rights defender, as the recipient of the 2017 Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) Peace and Freedom Award.

The Most Reverend Thomas Zinkula, Bishop of Davenport, extended his congratulations to Dr. Akreyi, saying that she was selected by the Pacem in Terris Coalition for her "fearless documentation of torture and other human rights violations, as well as her pursuit of justice through medical research and the monitoring of peace initiatives." His excellency added, "Your findings regarding crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing have brought horrific acts to light for all the world to see."

Dr. Widad will receive the award at a ceremony to be held at St. Ambrose University, Christ the King Chapel in Davenport, Iowa, USA on October 22, 2017.

"Dr. Widad is an incredible addition to the list of Pacem Award winners," said the Pacem in Terris Coalition chair and Social Action and Catholic Charities director Kent Ferris. "She became involved early in her life in responding to human rights violations that were happening around her, courageously chronicling the atrocities. And even after obtaining her PhD in global health and cancer epidemiology as a young adult, her life work remains focused on human rights."

Created by the Davenport Catholic Interracial Council in 1964, the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award honors individuals for their "achievements in peace and justice, not only in their country but in the world." Previous recipients include the 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy (1964), leader of the Civil Rights Movement Dr. Martin Luther King, JR. (1965), Mother Teresa, known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1976), South African social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1987), former President of Poland Lech Walesa (2001), and Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (2015).

Upon learning she will receive the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award, the co-founder of Defend International Dr. Akreyi said, "It gives me pleasure to accept this award, which will always have a place of honor in my heart."

Dr. Widad Akreyi has been committed to promote peace and justice around the world from a very young age. Her visionary leadership, volunteerism and innovative initiatives inspire others to join her in the pursuit of freedom and human rights.

 

Dr. Widad Received Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award

Oslo-Iowa, October 30, 2017 – Dr. Widad Akreyi, co-founder of Defend International, was presented with the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award by Bishop Thomas Zinkula. She became the youngest recipient of the Pacem in Terris Award and the first Pacem honouree to receive a medal from the mayor of Davenport.

On October 22nd, the Most Reverend Thomas Zinkula, Bishop of Davenport, presented Dr. Widad Akreyi, a global champion on the plight of the persecuted in the Middle East, with the 47th Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award in light of her "lifelong commitment to peace and justice."

The Award, which is named to honor Pope John XXIII, was given at a ceremony held at St. Ambrose University, Christ the King Chapel in Davenport, Iowa, USA.

"You have worked tirelessly for peace and justice and advocate for human dignity for all in the Middle East," said the Most Reverend Zinkula before presenting the award. "Your mission has been to save lives, alleviate suffering and promoting peace and equal rights and opportunities for all. Your fearless documentation of torture and other human rights violations, as well as your pursuit of justice through medical research and the monitoring of peace initiatives. Your findings regarding crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing have brought horrific acts to light for all the world to see. You embody the words of Pope John XXIII in his encyclical Pacem in Terris a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying leaven to your brothers and sisters around the world."

"As the first woman born in Kurdistan, in the heart of Mesopotamia to be awarded this award, I am tremendously honoured by this recognition," Dr. Widad said after accepting the award.

Co-founder of Defend International became the youngest recipient of the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award and the first Pacem in Terris honouree to meet the mayor of Davenport and to be presented with the Davenport medal by the Honorable Frank Klipsch during a private social meeting with local medical professionals.

Established in 1964, in commemoration of the 1963 encyclical letter Pacem in terries (Peace on Earth) of Pope John XXIII, the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award is awarded “to honor a person for their achievements in peace and justice, not only in their country but in the world.” Previous recipients include President of the United States John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Dr. Widad donated her honorarium from the Award to the Congregation of the Humility of Mary.

 

The Catholic Messenger Article by Editor Barb Arland-Fye

We must remember, compassion is contagious: Pacem honoree speaks from the heart

She referenced genocides that have occurred in the region over the last century, beginning in Armenia in 1915, and raised concerns about “crimes against humanity” that have been occurring over the past years around the world. However, she sees glimmers of hope. The tragedies have brought people of different backgrounds, cultures and religions (or no religion) together to advocate for justice and peace, she said.

"Those tireless supporters have tried to make a difference one act of kindness, one act of solidarity, one act of charity at a time. They did so because they believe all humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They believe in acting toward one another in a spirit of humanity because human rights are universal and justice and peace are human rights." Dr. Widad Akreyi

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The Catholic Messenger Article by Editor Barb Arland-Fye

Human rights defender to receive Pacem in Terris Award

Dr. Widad Akreyi was a young child living in southern Kurdistan when she survived the Iraqi government offensive against the Kurds in the mid-1970s. That experience shaped her life’s work as a human rights advocate now based in Norway. Her response to injustice and her peace advocacy efforts inspired a Davenport-based interfaith coalition to choose her for the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award. Bishop Thomas Zinkula will present the award to her during a ceremony that begins at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 in St. Ambrose University’s Christ the King Chapel in Davenport.

"Dr. Widad is an incredible addition to the list of Pacem Award winners. She became involved early in her life in responding to human rights violations that were happening around her, courageously chronicling the atrocities. And even after obtaining her PhD in global health and cancer epidemiology as a young adult, her life work remains focused on human rights. She is younger than many of the recent award recipients. I think this is based partly on her life experiences. And I also strongly believe that Dr. Widad is part of an emerging cohort group that is responding to the great injustices of our present day." ~ Kent Ferris, the Davenport Diocese’s Social Action director who oversees the interfaith coalition

One of the main points Widad hopes to convey during the award ceremony is "that we have to recognize past and current genocides in order to be able to prevent new ones. My message is one of hope and aspiration, a message of unity in a time of uncertainty."

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The Quad City Times Front-Page Article by Mr. Thomas Geyer

Akreyi: Sovereign Kurdish state would prevent future genocide

Widad Akreyi has a vision of what the future can look like in her home town of Aqrah in Iraqi Kurdistan. Akreyi’s vision is of a sovereign country that will encompass the historic lands of the Kurds and the minorities who live in peace with them. It is a vision of a place of safety for these people. It is a place that will give them a way to escape the genocides that have befallen those people, much as Israel has become a safe haven for the Jewish people. But it will take an involved world, and specifically an involved United States, and an involved Israel to get there, she said.

"Akreyi, co-founder of the human rights organization Defend International, earned her place among the world’s brightest brokers of peace when she was presented with the Pacem In Terris Peace and Freedom Award during a ceremony at Christ the King Chapel at St. Ambrose University in Davenport."

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The Quad City Times Front-Page Article by Deirdre Cox Baker

Social justice activist Widad Akreyi wins Pacem in Terris Award 

A Kurdish woman who was an eyewitness to Saddam Hussein's chemical attacks in 1988 has been named the 2017 winner of the Pacem in Terris Peace & Freedom Award, presented by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport. Dr. Widad Akreyi, a social justice activist, joins previous recipients who include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

"I am struck by Akreyi's experience as reflected in 13 other women who have won the honor. Like the others, Akreyi started out with an ordinary life, had an experience and went on to do really extraordinary things. Like Dorothy Day and Sister Helen Prejean, the doctor's efforts in social justice will add to the legacy of the award, and to the contributions made by other pioneering women. These women stood up to power and authority and did not back down. Sometimes we all need to do this." ~ Director Loxi Hopkins, member of the Pacem in Terris Award Committee

A special ceremony for Akreyi is planned for 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22., at Christ the King Chapel, St. Ambrose University, Davenport. Bishop Thomas Zinkula will preside, and Akreyi will be present to accept the honor.

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