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With Compassion and Understanding – The 2018 Voltaire Prize goes to Sociologist Gladys Tzul Tzul

This year the University of Potsdam is presenting the “Voltaire Prize for Tolerance, International Understanding and Respect for Differences” for the second time. The € 5,000 prize will go to Gladys Tzul Tzul, a sociologist from Guatemala. The award honors her commitment to the indigenous population in Central America. Dr. Gladys Tzul Tzul publicly denounced the genocide perpetrated under the recently deceased President Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala from 1982 to 1983. She still receives threats in her home country of Guatemala. The Voltaire Prize will be awarded during the graduation ceremony at the University of Potsdam on June 21, 2018, in front of the Colonnade at Am Neuen Palais, in the presence of keynote speaker Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber from Potsdam’s Institute for Climate Impact Research. There will also be an opportunity to meet Gladys Tzul Tzul at a press briefing beforehand (see below).

Gladys Tzul Tzul specializes in indigenous systems of governance, their power relationships, and the struggle between local and state authorities in Guatemala. She earned her doctorate in sociology at the Benemérita Universidad de Puebla (BUAP) in Mexico. Tzul Tzul is the founder of Amaq, an institute that offers legal advice to indigenous peoples.

The Voltaire Prize is funded by the Friede Springer Foundation and is awarded annually to one scholar who has demonstrated a commitment to freedom in research and teaching, as well as the right of free expression. “The selection process this year again showed how, in many countries, the freedom of research and teaching is endangered, does not exist, or has ceased to exist,” says the president of the University of Potsdam, Prof. Oliver Günther, Ph.D. “It is therefore all the more important that we send a signal with the Voltaire Prize, expressing our gratitude and paying tribute to those who oppose anti-Enlightenment tendencies. This is because the prize does not only pertain to the recipients; it also extends to all of the courageous scholars around the world who say no to totalitarianism and restrictions on the freedom of expression and speech.”

The jury – which consists of President Oliver Günther; the Vice President for International Affairs, Fundraising, and Alumni, Prof. Florian Schweigert; renowned climate impact researcher Prof. Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber; Alexander von Humboldt expert Prof. Ottmar Ette; and the church historian Prof. Christoph Markschies – voted unanimously for Tzul Tzul. “I cannot imagine a more fitting recipient of the prize,” said jury member Ottmar Ette. “Gladys Tzul Tzul has demonstrated a tireless commitment to the rights of indigenous peoples in Guatemala as well as all of Central America.  She combines a global academic perspective and analytical precision with the highest dedication and personal willingness to take risks, meaning the ideal combination of the mind and the heart.”

Invitation to Press Briefing
We invite you to a press briefing on June 21 in which the President of the University of Potsdam, Prof. Oliver Günther, Ph.D., will introduce Dr. Gladys Tzul Tzul. The briefing will take place at 11:30 in Building 8, Room 0.56, at the Am Neuen Palais Campus.

Contact: Silke Engel, University Press Officer and Director of the Department for Press and Public Relations
Tel.: +49 331 977-1496
Email: silke.engeluni-potsdamde
Photos: Gladys Tzul Tzul (photo: Sandra Sebastián)

Press Release 04-06-2018 / No. 088
Jana Scholz

University of Potsdam
Department for Press and Public Relations
Am Neuen Palais 10
14469 Potsdam
Tel.: +49 331 977-1474
Fax: +49 331 977-1130

Published online by: Agnes Bressa
Contact the online editorial office: onlineredaktionuni-potsdamde