Conference brings Nobel Peace Prize winners

Portland State will host the first annual World Peace Conference next Tuesday from 12:30 to 5 p.m. in Smith Memorial Ballroom. Acclaimed speakers from around the globe are scheduled to appear.

The conference will begin with an introduction of why the conference is being held and its purposes. Thirty minutes of prayers will follow and then from 1-3 p.m., Nobel Peace Prize winners will speak to the attendees.

From 3-4:15, former U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield and Rev. Mary Manin Morrissey will co-moderate the panel discussion and a question and answer session will follow.

Sen. Hatfield, the Nobel laureates and Gary Alan Spanovich, the conference executive director, will speak at 4:15 p.m.

There will be a video on the Dalai Lama’s speech on world peace and Abbot Joseph Wood will close the conference.

According to Debra Clemans, executive assistant to vice-provost for International Affairs, a videotaped interview with Lech Walesa, 1983 Nobel Peace prize winner, a founder of Solidarity who led Poland out of communism, will also be displayed.

There will also be free exhibits about the information about Nobel Peace Prize winning organizations, with peace work and awareness raising for the public to learn more about what they can do to help achieve peace.

In addition, PSU students have the opportunity to view the conference for free on a live closed-circuit broadcast from 12:30-5 p.m. on the second floor of Smith Center. This is not open to the public.

Clemans said about a year-and-a-half ago, Pathways to Peace, an international not-for-profit peace building, educational and consulting organization wanted to hold peace conference.

Mary Kay Tetreault thought it was a good idea and wanted PSU to take an active part in the event.

“The conference is to bring international issues to become more visible,” Clemans said. “We like to nationalize PSU and have international experience, such as study abroad, have students take classes from faculty who have done a variety of research and travel activities, that goes along with the PSU campaign – ‘Great City, Great University.’ ”

“We want people to walk away and say, ‘OK, here’s what I’m going to do for peace.’ We don’t want peace for a day, but from now on,” Clemans added.

In addition, Clemans said peace is important to the14th Dalai Lama, and in order to spread that message, PSU wanted the Dalai Lama to convey his message of peace at the conference. However, the Dalai Lama will not be able to attend. He will be represented by Geshe Kalseng Damdul, who will teach Buddhist philosophy this summer at PSU.

The Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association only allows the Dalai Lama to do certain things, Clemans said.

The Dalai Lama is religious and political leader of the Tibetan people. He was born into a peasant family and was recognized at age two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama was called as Head of State and Government in 1950, at age 16, after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers invaded Tibet.

During the Tibetan National Uprising in 1959, the Chinese military took control of Tibet and the Dalai Lama was forced into exile in India.

More than 120,000 Tibetans are in exile today and the Dalai Lama is currently residing in Dharamsala.

In 1989, the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize for his continuing efforts to liberate Tibet through non-violent, peaceful solutions. The Dalai Lama is honored in many instuitions across the nation for his Buddhist philosophy writings and his peaceful leadership quality.

Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1976 for her work against violence in her homeland Northern Ireland, will be one of the speakers at the conference. Williams is the co-founder of Peace People, an organization she and Mairead Maquire founded after witnessing a fatal accident on a street in Belfast, Ireland. An Irish Republican Army gunman was shot dead fleeing from British soldiers and he crashed his car into a family out for a walk.

Another speaker, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his work for peace in Latin America. He is the founder of Servicio Paz y Justicia, a human rights organization.

Esquivel was expelled from Ecuador during a pilgrimage across Latin America in 1976 and was incarcerated for 14 months in Argentina without a trail in 1977. He received a peace memorial from Pope John XXIII for his work.

PSU students can meet Esquivel on Monday, May 14 from 4 to 5 p.m. in Cramer 335. He will also speak from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the First Christian Church on this day. It costs $25 for the event. Call (503) 246-0722 for more reservation.The author of many world peace books and co-founder of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Helen Caldicott will also be a speaker at the conference.

Caldicott has spent the last 25 years educating the international community about medical hazards of the nuclear age.

Caldicott’s organization shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), whose executive director, Robert K. Musil, will also be present at the conference. PSR helped end atmospheric nuclear testing in 1960s.

U.S. Amnesty International executive director William F. Shulz will also speak at the conference. Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by Peter Beneson. The organization, whose ongoing effort won the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize, works to support basic human rights worldwide.

Since 1901 the Nobel Prize has been given annually in five categories: physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace; economic sciences was added in 1968. The Nobel Prize is given in memory of Alfred Bernard Nobel, founder of dynamite, by the Nobel Foundation, which was established in 1900 from the considerable fund he left.

For conference tickets, call (503) 725-4195. For more info, visit