Pressemitteilung 48/22 - 24.05.2022

Mietek Pemper Prize of the University of Augsburg for Reconciliation and International Understanding 2022

Award ceremony for Dieudonné Kibinakanwa, peace activist from Burundi

Augsburg – After a forced break due to Corona the Prize for Reconciliation and International Understanding will be awarded again with a festive event in the Golden Hall (Goldener Saal) of the city of Augsburg on 23 May 2022.

This year the award will go to Dieudonné Kibinakanwa. Since 1994 he has been promoting peace and international understanding in his home country Burundi, where the decades-long civil war has left permanent marks.
 

from left to right: Prof. Dr. Sabine Doering-Manteuffel, Dr. Georg Haindl, Bavarian Minister of Science Markus Blume, Dieudonné Kibinakanwa with his wife Esperance Kwizera, Lord Mayor of the City of Augsburg Eva Weber © University of Augsburg

Dieudonné Kibinakanwa grew up in Burundi as half-orphan. His father was one of the victims of the civil war between the Hutu und the Tutsi, which claimed 300.000 human lives in total. After his education in a boarding school he asked himself the question what he wanted to do with his life. It was at that point when he was selected by Quakers to work as interpreter for Kirundi und English. Young Americans entered the country in service of the programme "Peace Presence" and offered seminars on peaceful solutions to conflicts. Together with eight peers Kibinakanwa took part in a training course and upon its end decided to create a permanent project for peaceful conflict resolution. Without any financial means they organised meetings for youths in the streets, schools or churches. They also established contact with other organisations with the goal of promoting peace. This ultimately led to the founding of the Ministry of Peace and Reconciliation under the Cross (MI-PAREC).

Currently Dieudonné Kibinakanwa is the director of the Great Lakes Peacebuilding Initiative (GLPI), an initiative for non-violence. GLPI offers courses and training opportunities for society in Burundi and strengthens the education towards peace at schools. Furthermore, they promote the reintegration and rehabilitation of members of armed groups and offer non-violent mediation.

Through his work Dieudonné Kibinakanwa is directly involved in the creation of 600 regional peace committees and the training of more than 100.000 peace officers, not only in Burundi, but also in Ruanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
 

The Prize

Mietek Pemper Prize of the University of Augsburg for Reconciliation and International Understanding is sponsored by the Augsburg entrepreneur Dr. Georg Haindl, who created it in 2007 as a reminder of the lifetime achievement of Mieczysław Pemper, an honorary citizen of the university and the city of Augsburg. Pemper (1920 - 2011) was a prisoner in the Krakau-Płaszów concentration camp. Assigned to the camp commander Amon Göth as personal scribe, Pemper in association with the German factory owner Oskar Schindler managed to save 1.100 Jews from certain death in the Auschwitz extermination camp by risking his own life. At the time Pemper had the life-saving idea of having Schinderl's company classified as "decisive for victory" and so saving all employees from the extermination campaign.
 

Mietek Pemper, honorary citizen of the city and University of Augsburg © University of Augsburg
© University of Augsburg

At the same time, the prize ties in with the city of Augsburg's ambition as a city of peace to cultivate and implement the legacy of the Augsburg Religious Peace signed in 1555 in a contemporary manner. In addition to the Augsburger Friedenspreis, a peace prize awarded by the city since 1985 for achievements surrounding the mutual understanding between religions and confessions, the Mietek Pemper Prize of the University of Augsburg for Reconciliation and International Understanding honours exceptional active, sustainable and unconventional achievements in dealing with secular conflicts in politics and society.
 

The Jury

The Jury, consisting of the founder of the prize, the president of the University of Augsburg, the Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Augsburg-Swabia as well as the Bavarian Minister of Science and the Lord Mayor of the City of Augsburg, awards Mietek Pemper Prize of the University of Augsburg for Reconciliation and International Understanding at contemporary personalities who have shown a personal effort in the service of  reconciliation and international understanding that is comparable to that of Pemper.

Further information on the prize can be found here: https://www.uni-augsburg.de/de/ueber-uns/ehrungen/preise/pemper-preis/

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