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Thursday, 2 September 2010

Peruvian priest, German anti-racist group receive Aachen Peace Prize

The Aachen Peace Prize and its 2,000-euro award have been given to a German anti-racist society as well as a Catholic priest and human rights advocate from Peru.
The Duisburg anti-racism group Phoenix Society and Peruvian priest and human rights activist Marco Arana received the Aachen Peace Prize on Wednesday for their advocacy and fieldwork.

"Both believe in the respect for human dignity," said Karl Heinz Otten, chairman of the prize committee, at a ceremony in Aachen with about 500 guests on Wednesday evening. "We would like to help them by honoring their fieldwork."

The Aachen Peace Prize comes with a 2,000-euro prize and is awarded annually to organizations and individuals who have shown exception work toward peace and international understanding.

Accepting the award on behalf of the Phoenix Society was Protestant minister Austen Peter Brandt, a German with roots in Nigeria who said that "racism is still fixed in many minds."

"Our work against this every-day racism gains new motivation with this prize," he said.

Arana is a Catholic priest from Peru who for 20 years has campaigned against environmental damage from his country's largest gold mine and advocated for farmers in nearby areas whose health and livelihood have been harmed.

He said he wanted to run in Peru's 2011 presidential elections in association with the newly-formed Tierra y Libertad (Land and Liberty) movement as a "staunch advocate of the peaceful path in the fight for human rights and the environment."