Pacem in Terris Honors Kurdish Activist

Oct 12, 2017

Dr. Widad Akreyi, winner of the 2017 Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award
Credit Diocese of Davenport

A health expert, author, and human rights activist is this year's winner of the Pacem in Terris, Peace and Freedom Award. Widad Akreyi was born in the Kurdish region of Iraq, and as a child witnessed the genocidal campaign by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds in the late 1980's.

Kent Ferris is director of Social Action for the Diocese of Davenport, which hands out the award each year. 

"She was able to courageously chronicle these atrocities. Even after she was able to do that and draw attention to it internationally, she has continued to be involved in humanitarian efforts and exposing grave violations or human rights."

She is also the co-founder of the human rights organization, Defend International.

Doctor Akreyi is one of the youngest winners of the Pacem in Terris award, but her achievements, Ferris says, "are no less remarkable" than previous winners, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, and Desmond Tutu.

"She brings not only the message of what she's seen and the atrocities she's chronicled, but also energy and vitality to this continuing work. She may very well be part of the next generation of these leaders."

The award is given by the Diocese of Davenport each year to recognize people who work for peace and justice, and bring attention to peace on earth.

The award ceremony will be held at Saint Ambrose University on Sunday October 22 at 2 pm.