Inspiring people and projects will be awarded in May 2024

Maria Biedrawa is honoured with the Bremen Peace Prize in the category Pioneering Peace Work. The social worker has been active on the African continent for 20 years in various contexts and countries, e.g. in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. She works there mainly on a voluntary basis and with a high level of personal commitment. Multiple conflicts and armed clashes leave the civilian population with diverse and complex traumas. Maria Biedrawa helps those affected with trauma counselling and thus enables cooperation and social coexistence again. As a logotherapist, she contributes her knowledge of this form of psychotherapy centred on questions of meaning.

To prevent conflicts, she offers training in the principles and methods of non-violence. One impressive example was the training with young adults in South Sudan in 2016, where the young people explained that they could not relate to concepts such as peace or justice "because nobody here has seen that, neither we nor our parents' or grandparents' generation". With Maria Biedrawa's support, they developed materials to bring these topics closer to other young people.

On the African continent, which is steeped in spirituality, the award winner promotes interfaith encounters and thus brings about a religiously based strengthening and encouragement on one's own path through life. The Christian orientation of her commitment in ecumenical breadth, with a high degree of interreligious sensitivity and respect for other religions enables her to carry out interreligious work, which is extremely important for African countries.

"When I found out that I was being honoured with the Bremen Peace Prize, the faces of the people with whom I have been travelling in Africa for twenty years came to mind," says Maria Biedrawa. "They are peacemakers with whom we are jointly inventing steps towards non-violent conflict resolution and reconciliation. And because I know that the hardest thing for many of them is the feeling that although their suffering from their wars cries out to heaven, in the shadow of the wars in Ukraine and Palestine they seem to be forgotten on this earth and they feel even more defenceless than they were before, I would simply like to say to them all: no, you are not forgotten. This Peace Award is a sign that you are being recognised and heard. I will accept it on your behalf."

The organisation Connection receives the Award of the Donors for Encouraging Initiatives. The organisation, based in Offenbach am Main, has been campaigning internationally for a comprehensive right to conscientious objection to military service since 1993 and supports men and women who are persecuted because of their conscientious objection. The association works together with international and local groups and organisations that are committed to opposing war, the military and conscription.

The difficult legal and political situation in many countries forces many conscientious objectors to flee. Refusing to take part in the war often leads to prosecution in their own country, but is often not recognised as grounds for asylum in most countries. This is why Connection offers conscientious objectors counselling and support so that they receive the necessary protection. The association also promotes the self-organisation of refugees.

"We feel very honoured that Connection e.V. has been awarded the Bremen International Peace Award by the schwelle Foundation this year," explained Rudi Friedrich. Marah Frech added: "Hundreds of thousands of people of all genders are currently being forced to go to war in Russia, Ukraine, Israel and many other countries. Their refusal to serve is not recognised, they are branded as traitors. It is extremely important that the Bremen Award Prize recognises the work of these people and strengthens their decision and thus also the human right to conscientious objection. Thank you very much!"

The organisation was founded in 1993 and built up an international network of deserters to enable soldiers to leave the wars in the former Yugoslavian states. Networks and support were established with conscientious objectors in Latin America, Africa and Russia, as well as in Turkey in particular. In addition to supporting the founding of the Eritrean Antimilitarist Initiative, several US conscientious objectors were also supported in proceedings before the European Court of Justice during the US Army's war in Iraq. Connection positions itself against military violence as a means of politics. Since the war of aggression against Ukraine, the organisation has been involved in the #ObjectWarCampaign and campaigns for the right to conscientious objection of Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian soldiers and their right to asylum.

The winners will be honored in a ceremony in Bremen's City Hall on May 31, 2024, you are cordially invited to attend: Award Ceremony

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Peace Award Winner 2024

Connection: Right to Conscientious Objection

Connection e.V. campaigns internationally for a comprehensive right to conscientious objection and supports men and women who are persecuted because…


Maria Biedrawa: Tireless peace work in Africa

Maria Biedrawa works with people who are not familiar with words like peace or justice. Neither they nor their parents or grandparents have learnt…


Peace Award

Donate to the Bremen International Peace Award

Laudatory Speech

by Karoline Linnert


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