DAVENPORT — Human rights activist Dr. Widad Akreyi will receive the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m. in Christ the King Chapel on the St. Ambrose University campus. All are welcome to the free celebration.
Bishop Thomas Zinkula will present the award to her. In addition, Nora Dvorak, a longtime social justice advocate in the Davenport Diocese, will be honored with the first “One Among Us Justice Award.”
Akreyi, who is of Kurdish ancestry, has a long history of concern for human rights that led her to strive to ensure that victims of war and human rights violations receive the kind of treatment and care that every human being deserves.
She fearlessly documented torture and other human rights violations in her homeland and pursued justice through medical research and the monitoring of peace initiatives. Her findings regarding crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing have brought horrific acts to light.
In 2007, she co-founded Defend International, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that responds to grave violations of human rights. Among the many ways to respond is to conduct research that aims to improve health standards of communities. Three years ago she publicly denounced the slaughtering of civilians and the enslavement of Yazidi women and girls when ISIS militants attacked the Kurdistan region of Iraq. They had targeted Yazidis, Christians and other minorities.
Her persistent efforts to secure human rights and social justice led to her receiving the Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Award and also a Special Prize from the National Organization for Future Generations for bridging the gap between cultures.
She said she agreed to accept the Pacem in Terris award because of her appreciation of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical “Pacem in Terris” (Peace on Earth) and the good work of the coalition presenting the award. The coalition’s members and award co-sponsors are the Diocese of Davenport, The Catholic Messenger, St. Ambrose University, The Presidential Center for Faith and Learning at Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.; Churches United of the Quad City Area; Islamic Center of Quad Cities; Quad Cities Interfaith; Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities; Muslim Community of the Quad Cities; Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Sisters of St. Benedict; Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa; and Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton.