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Nobel Peace Prize winner speaks Friday at WMU

May 8, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta is the featured guest at the fourth annual Great Lakes PeaceJam Youth Conference Saturday and Sunday, May 13-14, at Western Michigan University, and he will give a free, public talk at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 12, in Brown Auditorium of Schneider Hall.

Ramos-Horta of East Timor won the 1996 Peace Prize for his work toward a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict in his island country, located between Indonesia and Australia. His Friday evening lecture, "Creating Peace and Democracy," will provide an opportunity to learn about his perspectives on creating democracy, just war and the lessons learned from East Timor, the newest member of the United Nations. A question and answer session will follow the talk.

As part of the weekend conference, the public also is invited to participate in a "Use Your Freedom" public action event in Bronson Park in downtown Kalamazoo from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 13. Local social justice advocacy groups will be on hand to provide information about their causes.

Ramos-Horta was the leading international spokesman for his country beginning in 1975, when Indonesia seized control of East Timor. It has been estimated that in the years following the takeover one-third of the population--approximately 250,000 people--lost their lives as a result of warfare, acts of terror, starvation and disease.

At age 25, Ramos-Horta was the youngest person ever to gain an audience before the Security Council of the United Nations, where he pleaded the case for his country.

PeaceJam is an international education program built around 13 Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Corrigan Maguire and the Dalai Lama. Through the program, the laureates work directly with young people. PeaceJam's goal is to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who will transform their local communities and the world. Since 1996, more than 200,000 teenagers worldwide have participated in PeaceJam where they have developed and implemented some 140,000 community service and peace projects.

Great Lakes PeaceJam, based in Kalamazoo, is administered by the Greater Kalamazoo United Way and serves the youth of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. More than 1,000 young people have participated in Great Lakes PeaceJam programs since its 2002 inception. Funding for Great Lakes PeaceJam is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation and Irving S. Gilmore Foundation.

For more information, visit www.peacejam.org.

Media contact: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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