Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Sulak Sivaraksa is the winner of the 29th Niwano prize, awarded annually to distinguished religious leader for their efforts to promote peace.
Sulak Sivaraksa was born in 1933 in Thailand into a family of Chinese descent. He studied law in England and Wales, returning to his country in 1961. He was committed in many fields as a teacher, scholar, author of over one hundred books in Thai and English, an activist and founder of various movements, the most notable of which is the 'International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB).
Representatives of the Committee for the award - which assesses the candidates proposed by 700 people and organizations from 125 countries and numerous religions – defined Sivaraksa "a voice of reason and ethics, who tells the truth to those in power, and emphasizes practical problems that affect human dignity "and underscored his “bravery as a Buddhist activist and intellectual, capable of persuading people of the importance of promoting social awareness among Buddhists throughout the world. "
The award is given by the Niwano Niwano Peace Foundation, 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 exchanges.
The Foundation is linked with 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 Amida Buddhism and combines deep spirituality, social work, promoting peace, dialogue among religions. Among past winners are Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara, Pastor, Philip A. Potter, secretary of the World Council of Churches, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, the village of Neve Shalom, founded by Palestinians and Israelis, and the 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 19. Sivaraksa will receive a medal and 20 million yen.