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Nobel Peace Prize winner speaks Friday at WMU

March 26, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu Tum is the featured guest at the fifth Annual Great Lakes PeaceJam Youth Conference Saturday and Sunday, March 31-April 1, at Western Michigan University.

Menchu will present a free, public talk on "Healing Communities Torn by Racism and Violence" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 30, in the Bernhard Center Ballroom on the WMU main campus in Kalamazoo.

During the presentation, Menchu will discuss her views about advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples and working toward racial reconciliation and human rights for all peoples. A question-and-answer-session will follow the talk.

Menchu won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples. She has firsthand knowledge of the 36-year civil war in Guatemala in which nearly 200,000 people were killed--90 percent reportedly at the hands of the military government. She advocated for the rights of Guatemala's indigenous population while enduring the systematic oppression of her people, including the murder of family members.

Over time, Menchu became widely known as a leading advocate of Indian rights and ethno-cultural reconciliation, not only in Guatemala, but also throughout the Western Hemisphere. She the first Mayan Indian candidate for the Guatemalan presidency.

PeaceJam is an international education program built around Nobel Peace Prize winners. Great Lakes PeaceJam, based in Kalamazoo, is administered by the Greater Kalamazoo United Way and serves Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan.

For more information, contact Jennifer Weaver, Great Lakes PeaceJam director, at jweaver@gkuw.org or (269) 343-2524 ext. 245.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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