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Shirin Ebadi comes to Denver as another Nobel Peace Prize winner pulls out of Chicago summit

Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work in Northern Ireland, has pulled out of the twelfth World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates that starts Monday in Chicago.

"That's what happens when you don't hold your big Nobel events in Denver!," jokes Dawn Engle, a founder of PeaceJam who regularly brings Nobel winners to town.

In fact, to mark its tenth anniversary in September 2006, the homegrown PeaceJam brought a dozen Nobel winners to Denver. And even as Engle heads to Chicago via a Michigan PeaceJam event, Ivan Suvanjieff, her partner in life and PeaceJam, will host another Nobel Peace Prize winner in Denver before going to Chicago, too.

This weekend's sixteenth annual PeaceJam Youth Conference will feature Shirin Ebadi, the human rights lawyer, former judge and activist who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. Ebadi will deliver a public speech on "Faith in Humanity" at Machebeuf Hall at Colorado Heights University at 7 p.m. tonight and also participate in the youth conference, which runs Saturday and Sunday at the school. (Tickets for tonight's talk are $15 for general admission, $10 for students with ID; get more information on all this weekend's events at www.peacejam.org.)

And that's not all PeaceJam is up to these days. The organization and its board of thirteen Nobel laureates, including Ebadi, will soon publish the 2012 Iran Human Rights Reports, urging Iranian authorities to uphold Iran's international commitments and human rights obligations as a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. In addition, PeaceJam is highlighting on its website a petition to Iranian leaders regarding the wrongful detention of prisoners of conscience. And then there's the work Engle and Suvanjieff are doing with Mayan elders, including the upcoming Mayan Renaissance movie; see a trailer here.

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Maguire, who's been very active in PeaceJam, pulled out of the Chicago event because the U.S. government is an "active partner," according to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Maguire says participating in a conference partnered with the U.S. government, a member of NATO, would jeopardize her work in the Middle East and other areas.

"I have now decided, with some sadness, not to be associated in the partnership as I do not agree with many of the policies of the U.S. State Department," Maguire said as she bowed out. "Indeed I have, as a Nobel Peace laureate...often called for disbandment of NATO, end of militarism and war, and for disarmament and demilitarization."

Read about how PeaceJam, an organization that's made waves around the globe, got its start in Denver in Patricia Calhoun's 2005 column, "A Peace of the Action."

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