Peace Prize Winners Take Aim at U.S.

The Associated Press
Sunday, September 17, 2006; 6:19 AM

DENVER -- Ten Nobel Peace Prize laureates called for world peace and took aim at U.S. policy makers, asking an enthusiastic crowd of 7,000 youth to demand that the United States pull back its military, spread its wealth and offer aid to developing countries.

Only the Dalai Lama, whose speech at the three-day PeaceJam convention at the University of Denver was interrupted when a fire alarm went off, did not take a direct jab at the U.S.

"After the painful events of September 11, I wish that America would have built a school in Afghanistan in the name of every victim," said Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian judge and 2003 Peace Prize recipient. "When someone claims he has a vision from God to bring war to Iraq, this is a kind of terrorism."

The Dalai Lama called on the world to open itself to religious tolerance.

PeaceJam, a Colorado-based program in its 10th year, hosts conventions around the world, bringing teenagers together with Nobel laureates to talk about what they can do to promote peace.

Founders Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff say the interaction between the teens and laureates can build a generation that will tackle the big issues of poverty, disease and war.

One after the other Saturday night, the laureates called on Americans to do something about their government's foreign policy. From efforts to close the border with Mexico to Iraq to arms exports, the Nobel laureates had words for the U.S. government.

"Stand up. Take action," said Jody Williams, the 1997 recipient for her work opposing land mines, and the only American to take the stage. "Don't try to bring democracy to people you don't understand through the barrel of a gun and leave them with civil war."

The Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who praised the U.S. for its fight against South Africa's apartheid and its history of justice and democracy, also had stern words for the Bush administration.

"You taught us no government worth its salt can subvert the rule of law. We believed you," he said. "That's part of what you have as a gift for the world. Then how can you commit Guantanamo Bay? Take back your country."

© 2006 The Associated Press