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Nobel Peace Prize winners gather at DU

Rigoberta Menchú Tum visited DU in September along with nine other Nobel peace laureates. Photo: DU Photography Department

The University of Denver welcomed 10 Nobel peace laureates Sept. 15-17 for the 10th annual PeaceJam conference — the largest gathering of Nobel peace laureates ever on U.S. soil.

At the conference, the laureates announced their Global Call to Action — a campaign to encourage youth to promote peace and make a difference in their communities.

Thousands of students from all over the world traveled to Denver to listen to the laureates, ask questions and share their own visions of peace. Some 150 DU students mentored the youths.

PeaceJam events included lectures, service projects and a “ceremony of inspriation” led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. The laureates repeatedly targeted what they called the cores of evil — poverty, racism, environmental destruction, nuclear weapons and abuses of human rights — and said people must be willing to step up and address those issues.

“Action is very important,” said the Dalai Lama, who added that prayer is not solely enough and that young people must learn from the mistakes of previous generations.

The political and spiritual leader of Tibet said “genuine compassion is unbiased” and should be directed toward all brothers and sisters, not just loved ones. The laureates were not shy in their criticism of the U.S. government or President Bush.

“You are some of the most incredibly generous people,” Tutu told a sold-out crowd of 7,000 at Magness Arena. “Your philanthropy is fantastic. How about exporting your generosity instead of your bombs?”

Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi said that although she is “very sorry about the sad events of Sept. 11,” she wished the United States would have built schools in Afghanistan in memory of the victims of Sept. 11.

That, she said, would have resulted in a decrease in terrorism.

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who led protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas, argued that governments need to stop wasting money on war and instead use it to fight hunger and other pressing issues that threaten humanity.

“The time has come to shift our energy and our resources from military security to long-term investment in true human security,” Esquivel said.

PeaceJam is a Colorado-based nonprofit committed to educating young people about peace.

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