Dr. Widad Selected as Recipient of Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award


Dr. Widad Akreyi Selected as Recipient of Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award




Oslo-Iowa, September 29, 2017 – Bishop Thomas Zinkula will present the 47th Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award to Dr. Widad Akreyi. The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. on October 22nd in St. Ambrose University’s Christ the King Chapel in Davenport.

The Pacem in Terris Coalition has selected Dr. Widad Akreyi, an international humanitarian and human rights defender, as the recipient of the 2017 Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) Peace and Freedom Award.

The Most Reverend Thomas Zinkula, Bishop of Davenport, extended his congratulations to Dr. Akreyi, saying that she was selected by the Pacem in Terris Coalition for her “fearless documentation of torture and other human rights violations, as well as her pursuit of justice through medical research and the monitoring of peace initiatives.” His excellency added, Your findings regarding crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing have brought horrific acts to light for all the world to see.

Dr. Widad will receive the award at a ceremony to be held at St. Ambrose University, Christ the King Chapel in Davenport, Iowa, USA on October 22, 2017.

Dr. Widad is an incredible addition to the list of Pacem Award winners, said the Pacem in Terris Coalition chair and Social Action and Catholic Charities director Kent Ferris. She became involved early in her life in responding to human rights violations that were happening around her, courageously chronicling the atrocities. And even after obtaining her PhD in global health and cancer epidemiology as a young adult, her life work remains focused on human rights.

Created by the Davenport Catholic Interracial Council in 1964, the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award honours individuals for their achievements in peace and justice, not only in their country but in the world. Previous recipients include the 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy (1964), leader of the Civil Rights Movement Dr. Martin Luther King, JR. (1965), Mother Teresa, known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1976), South African social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1987), former President of Poland Lech Walesa (2001), and Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (2015).

Upon learning she will receive the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award, the co-founder of Defend International Dr. Akreyi said, “It gives me pleasure to accept this award, which will always have a place of honour in my heart.”

Dr. Widad Akreyi has been committed to promote peace and justice around the world from a very young age. Her visionary leadership, volunteerism and innovative initiatives inspire others to join her in the pursuit of freedom and human rights.


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For media inquiries please contact DI Media representative at: media@defendinternational.org


Dr. Widad is a preeminent humanitarian and human rights defender. A winner of several awards, the renowned champion of justice and gender equality has become a global voice for the voiceless, first and foremost the women and girls abducted, sold and enslaved in the Middle East. Originally from Kurdistan, Widad now lives in the West and holds a Master’s degree in genetics and a PhD in global health and epidemiology. Her historic novel, The Vikings Kurdish Love: A True Story of Zoroastrians Fight for Survival, is relevant and relatable to current events. For more information please visit Dr. Widad’s website at widad.org

The Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award has been awarded since 1964 in commemoration of the 1963 Encyclical letter “Pacem in Terris” of His Holiness Pope John XXIII that called on all people of good will to secure peace among all nations. The award was created by the Davenport Catholic Interracial Council of the Diocese of Davenport in the US state of Iowa, and since 1976 has been presented by the Pacem in Terris Coalition. The Coalition consists of 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. The first Pacem in Terris award was given to John F. Kennedy in 1964. Learn more at the following links:






The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.