02/27/2004, 00.00
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Niwano Peace Prize awarded to Ugandan organization

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – The Niwano Peace Foundation has decided to confer its 21st annual peace price to the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Iniziative (ARLPI), a Ugandan organization committed to promoting peace and inter-religious dialog. 

During the ceremony, set to take place in Tokyo next May 11, ARLPI will receive in addition to the prize, a medal and 20 million yen (about 145,000 euro).   

ARLPI is the first African organization to receive the award. The Ugandan NGO was founded in 1998 and is made up of members of various representatives of religious communities, among which we find faithful from Muslim and Christian (Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans) Churches.   

ARLPI works to end armed conflict by non-violent means, to educate for peace and assist victims of war with the help of its crew of volunteers, religious leaders and supporters.

During the civil war, the organization made attempts to promote peaceful discussion between Ugandan government authorities and the Lord's Resistance Army, a group of guerilla militants who had committed serious human rights violations against the country's civil population.  

The Niwano Peace Foundation was founded in 1978 to build up peace through religion, philosophy, culture and science. Thanks to a 3.8 billion yen donation (around 28 million euro) the foundation organizes cultural activities and international exchanges and confers its annual Niwano Peace Prize to people and associations promoting peace and inter-religious dialog.

To choose a winner –which must have international recognition and acclaim –the foundation forms a 1000-person panel, representing various faiths and 125 countries and a committee of 10 religious heads committed to peace and cooperation among religions.    

Among those who have been awarded the peace prize are: Helder P. Camara, archbishop of Recife (Brazil); the World Muslim Congress; Etai Yamada, head of the Buddhist faction, Tendai; Maha Ghosananda, a Cambodian bonze; the St. Egidian Community; Kang Won Yong, a South Korean Presbyterian leader; and Abuna Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Catholic priest.  

The Niwano Peace Foundation is linked to the work of Nikkyo Niwano, a noteworthy figure in Japanese spirituality who in 1938 founded the lay Buddhist organization, Rissho Kosei Kai. The movement aims to renew the teaching of Amidha Buddhism, uniting a deep sense of spirituality, commitment to social justice and promotion of peace and dialog among religions. The organization, today led by his children (Nichiko and Kinjiro) has ongoing relationships with Church figures from all faiths and denominations, especially with the founder of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich. (MR)

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