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December 29, 2006

Dialogue Between Nobel Peace Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and SGI President Begins in The Journal of Oriental Studies

Dr. Esquivel (right) and Mr. Ikeda (left) at the Soka International Friendship Hall, Tokyo, in December 1995

Dr. Pérez Esquivel (right) and Mr. Ikeda (left) at the Soka International Friendship Hall, Tokyo, in December 1995

A dialogue between 1980 Nobel peace laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, is being serialized in the Institute of Oriental Philosophy's (IOP) Toyo gakujutsu kenkyu (Japanese edition of The Journal of Oriental Studies) beginning with Volume 45, Issue No. 2. Dr. Pérez Esquivel is renowned for his commitment to human rights and efforts to advance nonviolent social change in Latin America. The title of their dialogue is "A Message for a Century of Human Rights--Requisites for the Third Millennium" (tentative translation). In a world mired in violence, discrimination and oppression, establishing human dignity is a formidable challenge for humanity. In the first of the series, "Revival of Spirituality," Dr. Pérez Esquivel's and Mr. Ikeda's talks focus on the need for an indefatigable spirit to fight against the abuse of power, and more specifically Dr. Pérez Esquivel's heroic struggle for human rights in Latin America. "Through my dialogue(s) with the SGI president," Dr. Pérez Esquivel commented, "I am confident that our life experience rooted in realism will contribute to a new dawn, opening the door of hope into the next millennium."

Born in Buenos Aires in 1931, Dr. Pérez Esquivel received training as an architect and sculptor. In 1974, he was appointed general coordinator of the human rights organization El Servicio de Paz y Justicia en América Latina (SERPAJ-AL) (Latin American Peace and Justice Foundation), through which he galvanized citizens in a non-violent movement against Argentina's then military regime. In 1976 he initiated an international campaign aimed at persuading the United Nations to establish a Human Rights Commission, and in this connection a document was drawn up recording breaches of human rights in Latin America. He was arrested by the Argentine federal police in 1977 and severely tortured. After being released from a 14-month imprisonment without trial, he was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his efforts in the defense of human rights. In 1995, he published Caminando Junto al Pueblo (Walking Together with the People), in which he relates his efforts to promote non-violent resistance in Latin America.

[Adapted from an article in the December 29, 2006, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]