Global church leaders congratulate 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureates

(Ilustration: Niklas Elmehed. © Nobel Media)Dr. Denis Mukwege and Ms Nadia Murad, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

The World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation have both hailed the award of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad and to Denis Mukwege for their work against "sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict."

"This is a great inspiration for all who work against sexual and gender-based violence," said WCC general secretary, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit shortly after the award was announced.

The winners announced in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Oct. 5 won the award for their "efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war," Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Nobel committee chair, said, the BBC reported.

The two both made a "crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes", she noted.

Ms Murad, 25, said in a statement that many Yazidis would "look upon this prize and think of family members that were lost, are still unaccounted for, and of the 1,300 women and children, which remain in captivity".

"For myself, I think of my mother, who was murdered by DAESH [IS], the children with whom I grew up, and what we must do to honour them," she added.

"Persecution of minorities must end. We must work together with determination - to prove that genocidal campaigns will not only fail, but lead to accountability for the perpetrators and justice for the survivors."

New Iraqi President Barham Saleh called the award "an honour for all Iraqis who fought terrorism and bigotry."

Tveiet siad, "Dr. Mukwege has consistently and with great risk shown the human dignity and the human rights of the victims of violence and war, particularly women who are victims of rape and gender-based violence."

Mukwege was the keynote speaker of the Twelfth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in Windhoek, Namibia in May 2017.

In his congratulatory message on Oct. 5, Tveit said Mukwege's work in the Democratic Republic of Congo is "a genuine contribution to peace for those who need it the most - and for a development towards justice and peace in the country and the region."

The son of a pastor, Mukwege is an active Christian layperson who founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC, in 2008 for the victims of sexual assaults, particularly in the context of the long-running civil war in the country.

He is now one of the world's foremost experts on the surgical repair of injuries from rape and sexual violence, and a leading international advocate against rape as a weapon of war, against impunity for the perpetrators of such war crimes, and for the rights of their victims.

WCC deputy general secretary, Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri noted, "For the WCC, this recognition adds to our absolute conviction, demonstrated through Thursdays in Black and our Global Consultation this week in Kingston, Jamaica on the just community of women and men – of our solidarity and action to end any form of violence in the church and society."


Nadia Murad is a member of the Yazidi community of northern Iraq.

She is one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi women and girls subjected to rape and enslavement by the so-called "Islamic State" group following its seizure of large parts of northern Iraq in mid-2014.

Since her escape following three months of captivity, Murad has chosen not to stay silent but to speak openly and publicly about her experiences.

"We are greatly encouraged by this award to these two leading voices against rape as a weapon of war," said Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.

He appealed to the world community to work to end impunity for the perpetrators of war crimes of sexual violence, and for increased support for all victims of such crimes.

"And we call on all churches and people of good will around the world to confront and transform the attitudes and culturalcontexts in which such atrocities can occur," said Prove.

Last year Nadia Murad met Pope Francis, who expressed deep concern about sexual violence and other atrocities.

During that conversation at the Vatican, she sought spiritual support for the suffering of her people, Vatican News reported.

She thanked the Pope for having spoken out about crimes not just against Christians but also against other ethnic and religious minorities, including the Yazidi.

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