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UGANDAN LAWYER NOMINATED FOR 2015 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

ochenThe American Friends for Service Committee (AFSC) has nominated Victor Ochen, a Ugandan peace advocate, for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.
"Victor Ochen has consistently shown both commitment and effectiveness in his efforts to address the needs of victims. He has worked for transitional justice, while simultaneously promoting human rights through nonviolent means, nourishing the leadership skills of other young people, and challenging systemic issues that lead to the continued vulnerability and suffering of war victims," partly reads the AFSC nomination letter extended to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.


Forced as a child to flee conflict in Northern Uganda, Ochen reportedly supported his schooling and family by making and selling charcoal, as people were abducted and killed.

A renowned advocate of nonviolence, Ochen's story reportedly mirrors those of people his organisation serves, and that he has never allowed his own grief and trauma to coerce him toward violent reactions to the hardships he faced as a former war victim.

Not even his mother was spared in the brutal Lord Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency.

"Based on a promise to his mother never to pick up a gun, and his deeply-held conviction that guns only invited more violence, he reasoned that staying focused on helping each other to survive and finding ways to pay for school fees was a better path," wrote AFSC.

Ochen, 33, heads the African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET), an entity that heals trauma and promotes youth leadership. The youth-led network conducts outreach programs to promote dialogue among youth in different Northern Uganda communities.

In May 2014, the network organized the first National War Victims conference, attended by over 250 people from all corners of the country, including Kenya, Mali, Nigeria and Burundi, among others.

According to AFSC's 17 February nomination letter, Ochen and AYINET, "offer a unique and powerful example to be emulated by marginalized people all over the world".

"We therefore respectfully request that the Norwegian Nobel Committee recognize Victor Ochen and the African Youth Initiative Network's work on behalf of victims of violent conflict by awarding them the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize," stressed AFSC.

NOMINATION WELCOMED

AYINET, in an email to Sudan Tribune, welcomed their nomination for the Nobel Peace accolade, which is annually awarded by the Nobel Prize Committee.

"Both Victor Ochen and AYINET accept the nomination with gratitude. We are both surprised and humbled by the overwhelming approval expressed for our values and work," reads part of its acceptance speech.

"We thank AFSC for the faith that we deserve the nomination they have earlier awarded to Martin Luther King Jr. and His Grace Archbishop Desmond Tutu [among others]," it further stressed.

LAUREATE TUTU ENDORSES NOMINATION

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu lauded Ochen's nomination for the peace prize.

"My heart swells with pride to hear of one of my 'children' leading change in Africa," commented the South African Nobel Laureate, adding that "Victor is part of a special group of African leaders who have graduated from the program that bears my name and I wish him well as a potential recipient of this auspicious honour."

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel prizes created by the Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, and literature.

Since 1901, however, it has reportedly been awarded annually (with some exceptions) to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
(ST)

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