Peacemakers in Action in the Media

It is time once again to catch you up on the inspiring work of Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action. September and October 2010 may have been some of the most prolific months in Peacemaker history – no fewer than six Peacemakers were honored with awards and recognitions. Congratulations are in order for Betty Bigombe, Bishop Ntambo Nkulu, Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa, Canon Andrew White, and Sakena Yacoobi! Pastor James and Imam Ashafa, Canon Andrew White, as well as Bishop Ntambo, accepted their awards in New York City, and Tanenbaum was delighted to visit with them in our offices during their time here.

While we celebrate the accomplishments of these Peacemakers in Action, we recognize that the hard work of building peace in the various corners of the world continues. And so, we present to you a selection of media updates about the new challenges and successes of Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action:

  • Tanenbaum would like to recognize Rev. Dr. William Lowery for his venerable professional career, and wish him happiness in his retirement from World Vision International. World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization that responds to disasters, works to improve lives and livelihoods, and advocates for global change for those living in poverty. Bill has affected change from the bottom to the top, grassroots to international organization, and has contributed to peacebuilding and development around the world. Bill was recognized as a Peacemaker in Action in 2001 for his work with the indigenous Nuer and Dinka peoples of Sudan.
  • The Coalition of Ethiopian National Elders, chaired by Dr. Ephraim Isaac, was credited with negotiating the release of a high-ranking opposition leader from prison in Ethiopia in October. Birtukan Mideksa is a former judge, a single mother, as well as the leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice political party. She also helped form the political coalition that won a third of contested seats in the 2005 national elections, though it is widely believed that they would have won many more if not for voting irregularities. In response, the coalition members called for public demonstrations, some of which became violent confrontations with police. 100 party leaders, including Ms. Birtukan, were subsequently convicted of treason and imprisoned. She was pardoned in 2007, but was returned to prison for a life sentence in 2008 after being accused of violating her pardon agreement.

Ethiopia’s president, Meles Zanawi, had previously stated, “There will never be an agreement with anybody to release Birtukan. Ever. Full stop. That’s a dead issue.” With the help of the Elders, however, the government and Ms. Birtukan were able to reach an agreement, and she was released on October 6. The move was welcomed by governments around the world and organizations such as Amnesty International, which had called Ms. Birtukan “a prisoner of conscience.”

  • Betty Bigombe was recently honored during the International Peace Day celebrations for her involvement in negotiations with the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels to bring peace to Northern Uganda.
  • Bishop Ntambo Nkulu and his wife, Nshimba, visited the US recently and spent time interviewing with Joyce, Clayton, and Kiersten from Tanenbaum, and Pamela Couture from the University of Toronto. Pamela and Tanenbaum will produce his case study for the next Peacemakers in Action book. Bishop Ntambo spent only a few days with us before he had to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo to meet with President Kabila in Kamina (Bishop Ntambo’s home city). Click the link to watch a short video of Bishop Ntambo and Nshimba in our office.

The Bishop also officially accepted his Peacemaker in Action award at a small ceremony in the home of Tanenbaum President and Founder, Dr. Georgette Bennett. Congratulations, Bishop Ntambo! You can see pictures and a short article about the event on the Tanenbaum website.<

  • Beginning in January, Hind Kabawat will teach a course, International Peacebuilding and Development Field Experience, alongside Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin (a member of the Religion and Conflict Resolution Program Advisory Council) and Aziz Abu Sarah in Syria, Palestine, and Israel. Follow the link for videos and photos of Hind and Marc Gopin.
  • Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa were honored at the We Are Family Foundation’s Annual Gala in New York City, receiving the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peacemaker Award for their efforts in promoting peace through interfaith understanding.

Tanenbaum hosted a Breakfast Briefing Event with the pair while they were in New York. At the event, Pastor James and Imam Ashafa spoke to Tanenbaum supporters about their experiences and answered questions.

Pastor James and Imam Ashafa were also in France this month, to deliver the keynote address at the award ceremony for the Foundation Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention. The pair won the prize in 2009. Click on the link for pictures and speeches from the ceremony.

  • After a mosque burning in Beit Fajjar, a West Bank village, Rabbi Menachem Froman worked to remedy the situation and bring peace by supplying the mosque with a Korans to replace damaged ones. Rabbi Froman’s work also inspired a previous post on the Tanenbaum blog.
  • In this video, Reverend Canon Andrew White speaks on the turmoil in Iraq and the hardships endured in his community, notably the recent hostage crisis at a nearby Catholic church in Baghdad. Canon White was also recently honored with the Train Foundation’s Civil Courage Prize, awarded for “steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk.” Joyce was able to celebrate with him at the award ceremony in New York City, and Tanenbaum was delighted to host him in our office for an afternoon of interviews.

– Kiersten Rooke and Clayton Maring