The US Peace Memorial Foundation awards the US Peace Prize to recognize and honor the most outstanding American antiwar leaders. These courageous individuals and organizations have publicly opposed military interventions such as invasion, occupation, production of weapons of mass destruction, use of weapons, threats of war, or other actions that threaten peace. By honoring these and other courageous role models, we hope to inspire more Americans to speak out for peace and to work to end the hatred, ignorance, greed, and intolerance that lead to war.
The Board of Directors of the US Peace Memorial Foundation has voted unanimously to award the 2020 US Peace Prize to The Honorable Christine Ahn, “for bold activism to end the Korean War, heal its wounds, and promote women’s roles in building peace.”
Michael Knox, Chair of the Foundation, thanked Christine for her “outstanding leadership and activism to end the Korean War and halt militarism on the Korean Peninsula. We applaud your tireless work to involve more women in peace building. Your efforts over the last two decades are greatly appreciated in the U.S. and around the world. Thank you for your service.” There will be a virtual event on November 11 with Medea Benjamin and Gloria Steinem celebrating Ms. Ahn and her work with Women Cross DMZ. Please attend.
In response to her selection, Ms. Ahn commented, “On behalf of Women Cross DMZ and all the courageous women who are working to end the Korean War, thank you for this tremendous honor. It is especially significant to receive this award in the 70th anniversary of the Korean War — a war that claimed four million lives, destroyed 80 percent of North Korean cities, separated millions of Korean families, and still divides the Korean people by the De-militarized Zone (DMZ), which in reality is among the most militarized borders in the world.
Sadly, the Korean War is known as the ‘Forgotten War’ in the United States, even though it continues to this day. That’s because the U.S. government refuses to negotiate a peace agreement with North Korea while continuing to wage a brutal war of sanctions against innocent North Korean people and impede reconciliation between the two Koreas. Not only is the Korean War the longest standing overseas U.S. conflict, it is the war that inaugurated the U.S. military industrial complex and put the United States on the path to become the world’s military police.
I humbly accept this award on behalf of the countless and nameless Korean activists whose lives have been destroyed in their quest for peace and reunification, as they faced tremendous obstacles by forces that continue to profit from this unended war. For me, too, the road to peace has not been easy. I have been redbaited, surveilled, denied entry to my homeland, and, hardest of all, alienated within my own family. But this peace prize sends a strong message of hope to the diasporic communities here in the United States. It not only affirms our mission of peace but also the critical role that women play in that effort. It’s time to move U.S. foreign policy away from endless wars that have sown chaos and violence in our homelands, and to recognize the leadership of women in creating the conditions that normalize peace.
I am eternally grateful to the US Peace Memorial Foundation for recognizing me, Women Cross DMZ, and all the people who have devoted their lives to seeing peace in Korea.”
Christine Ahn has been a strong and outspoken advocate for peace in Korea for nearly two decades, working for a formal end to the Korean War with a peace agreement, normalized relations, and tangible demilitarization on the Korean Peninsula. Ms. Ahn focuses on including women in the peace-building process by organizing initiatives, campaigns, and educational projects that encourage women to take an active leadership role. She has planned and participated in women’s peace walks across the demilitarized zone, traveled with delegations to provide humanitarian aid to North and South Korea, met with Korean leaders, and addressed the United Nations as well as the U.S. Congress and Canadian Parliament, challenging both governments on their anti-Korea, pro-war foreign policy.
Ms. Ahn is the Co-founder, Executive Director, and International Coordinator of Women Cross DMZ. A columnist and author, she has been the keynote speaker at major universities and is frequently interviewed by the media.
The other 2020 nominees were Daniel Ellsberg, Thomas C. Fox, Tulsi Gabbard, Alfred L. Marder, Whatcom Peace and Justice Center, and World BEYOND War. You can read about the antiwar/peace activities of all recipients and nominees at the US Peace Registry.