Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Guatemalan Rosalina Tuyuc Velasquez is the winner of the 29th Niwano Peace Prize.
Rosalina Tuyuc Velasquez, 55, is an activist for human rights, especially for the defense of Maya traditions. President in her youth of the Catholic Masculine and Feminine Labor Action of San Juan Comalapa, her hometown lies in the mountains of central Guatemala, where they still speak Kakchiquel, a Mayan dialect.
This years' winner has dedicated her award to the cultural and political defense and promotion of the descendants of this ancient people. Author of numerous publications, dedicated in particular to the exploitation of and violence against women, Tuyuc Velasquez was also the founder of Instance of Mayan Unity and Advise (IUCM), Vice President of the Parliamentary Commission for the indigenous communities, president of the Parliamentary Commission for Women, Children and Families, co-founder of the Association of Maya women in Guatemala politics, a member of the National Commission for the peace agreements.
In the statement outlining the choice of Tuyuc Velasquez, the Niwano Foundation highlights that this is the first time a defender of indigenous religious traditions has been awarded. "In Guatemala, the indigenous population was systematically excluded", the "wisdom of the traditional faith has been ignored" and "women have been victims of many forms of violence (including sexual and economic), racism and discrimination. But at the same time they are a source strength and determination. Rosalina Tuyuc Velasquez shows the path towards a more just future free of discrimination and for a new culture of peace ".
The award is given by the Niwano Niwano Peace Foundation was founded in 1978 to help build a peaceful world in fields such as religion, philosophy, culture, science. Thanks to donations of billions of yen, the foundation organizes cultural activities and international exchanges.
The Foundation is related to the work of Nikkyo Niwano, an important figure of Japanese spirituality, who in 1938 founded the lay Buddhist organization Rissho Kosei Kai. The movement aims at a renewal of the teaching of Buddhism and combines deep spirituality, social work, promoting peace and dialogue between religions. Among the past winners are the Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara, secretary of the World Council of Churches Pastor Philip A. Potter, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, the village Neve Shalom-founded by Palestinians and Israeli and Jordanian Prince El Hassan bin Talal, sponsor of the Letter of 138 Muslim scholars to the Pope
The award ceremony will be held in Tokyo on May 10. Rosalina Tuyuc Velasquez will receive a medal and 20 million yen.