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The Mothers of the May Square

The UNESCO Prize for Peace Education 1999

UNESCO Price for Peace Education 1999 was awarded to the NGO "Mothers of the May Square" (Argentina) on 6 October 1999 upon the unanimous recommendation of an international jury.

Background

The NGO "Mothers of the May Square" was created in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1977 by a group of 14 women requesting from the military dictatorship, news of their children who had "disappeared". In spite of the fact that these demonstrations ended up with the incarceration of demonstrators, the Mothers continued to gather with the same enthusiasm every Thursday at 3: 30 p.m. in the May Square, Buenos Aires to demand an end to impunity for those responsible for some 30,000 disappearances, 15,000 murders, 80,000 political imprisonment and 1,500,000 exiles. Aware that individual claims could not by themselves become effective, the Mothers decided to present collective claims, thereby broadening the concept of motherhood to a universal one. The growing concern was no longer on each individual loss but on the loss of all children who had « disappeared ».

Their struggle turned into a revolutionary movement for human dignity and human rights in Argentina involving students and different professionals. The Mothers of the May Square wearing a white scarf on their head as a symbol of peace and justice, kept on marching with the same firm and steady pace not only for the injustices they had suffered, but united as ever against all social injustices in their country and across borders.

Faced with many instances of "pecunary gifts" and other dissuasive means to tone down their movement, they replied: "The lives of our sons have no price!"

Today, before the continued threats, they reply: "We would rather die for the cause then live enclosed in fear and doing nothing about it!"

The Library and Literary Café

In 1999, in Buenos Aires, the Mothers created a specialised library and literary café offering texts in in human rights, poetry and politics. Through a wide range of cultural activities, the library and literary café open to all, have become spaces for the freedom of thoughts to develop and the spirit of solidarity to grow.

The People’s University

« Because Utopia does not have yet a physical space and because revolution continues to be a necessary dream for us, we, the Mothers of the May Square have decided to create another space for struggle and resistance. The construction of a new society requires women and men endowed with a political and ethical training, sensitivity and imagination…The main objective of the People’s University is to develop a critical way of thinking and provide an environment for creative groups to reflect. The People’s University will engender new daughters and sons in order to fight each day for life and a better world. »

The subjects taught as of April 2000 will be: Art, Journalistic investigation, Human and Political Rights, Social Psychology and Psychodrama, Social and Economic Politic. Further, three common compulsory courses will be taught: Ethics and History of the Mothers of the May Square, Political training, group dynamics, Popular educational techniques.

Contacts and Solidarity

Ms Hebe de BONAFINI
Presidente
Asociaciòn Madres de Plaza de Mayo
Hipòlito Yrigoyen 1442
(1089) Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: (54-1) 383-0377/6430
Fax: (54-1) 954-0381
E-mail: madres@satlink.com
Internet: www.madres.org

Support groups exist in more than 20 countries. SOLMA (see address below) can be contacted for further information on their work.

Ms Ada d’ALESSANDRO
Presidente
Solidarité avec les mères de la Place de Mai (SOLMA)
18 rue Nollet
75017 Paris, France
Tel: (0) 1 43 87 59 00
Fax: (0) 1 42 94 09 86
E-mail: solma@wanadoo.fr

 

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