2016 Peace Award: Speech presenting the 2016 Peace Award to Pakistani human rights advocates


[NOTE: The following speech was delivered by Marie Dennis, Co-President of Pax Christi International, at the ceremony in Geneva honouring the recipients of the 2016 Peace Award.]
Your Excellencies, dear guests and friends,
I am very happy to present the recipients of the 2016 Pax Christi International Peace Award, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.  
With this award, Pax Christi International honours the broader human rights community in Pakistan, whose nonviolent struggle under extremely difficult circumstances inspires a world that is yearning for an end to violence and for respect for the dignity and rights of every human being.  
Eight months ago, in response to the Easter bombing in Lahore, Pope Francis insisted that “violence and murderous hate lead only to sorrow and destruction.” Instead, he called for respect and brotherhood/sisterhood as the “only path to achieve peace.”
Courageous women and men in Pakistan, including our honourees this afternoon, demonstrate every day their commitment to that path of respect for each person. 
It is significant that we are presenting this award in Geneva to again draw the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council to the critical need to promote and protect human rights in Pakistan.
Pax Christi International has worked with the human rights community in Pakistan to inform the United Nations about the situation in Pakistan regarding the blasphemy laws, women rights, and the situations of minorities, including Christians. We have specifically highlighted the important work of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
In a country where arbitrary detention, torture, deaths in custody, forced disappearances, institutional injustices against religious minorities, and extrajudicial executions are frequently reported, Pax Christi International honours the clear and courageous stand taken by practitioners of justice and peace against persistent patterns of violence and human rights violations.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) plays a lead role in providing a highly informed and objective voice in support of human rights for all and democratic development in Pakistan. They monitor human rights violations and seek redress through public campaigns, lobbying and intervention in the courts, while also organising seminars, workshops and fact-finding missions. 
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), formed by the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, provides services in the field of human rights with a special focus on the rights and concerns of religious minorities in Pakistan. Through its eight offices across the country, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace runs peace programs while also campaigning for an unbiased education system in order to counter religious intolerance.
Established in 1988, the Pax Christi International Peace Award is funded by the Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink Peace Fund and honours contemporary individuals and organisations who make a stand for peace, justice and nonviolence in different parts of the world.
We are very pleased to give this award to the human rights community of Pakistan represented today by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. The prayers and solidarity of our international movement for peace will be with you as you continue your vital work for a just and sustainable peace.
Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace, Pakistan, Human Rights Commission, Marie Dennis, 2016 Peace Award