November 19, 2012
Mayor Eric J Kellogg’s speech honoring renowned human rights activist and Jesuit priest, Fr. Cedric Prakash, s.j.
Dear Council Members and my fellow citizens,
It is my privilege to welcome you all today to this event, which symbolizes the values of our nation and the spirit of the City of Harvey. We are gathered here today to appreciate and honor a man who lives thousands of miles away, but whose heart beats for peace, justice and the wellbeing of all humanity. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming renowned human rights activist and Jesuit priest from India Fr. Cedric Prakash!
You may recall that in March of this year, our City Council passed a resolution condemning the horrific massacres in Gujarat in 2002, and expressing solidarity with the victims and survivors of that pogrom. The Gujarat pogrom is known for the killing of over 2,000 people and the displacement of over 150,000, and indeed represents one of the darkest chapters in Indian history. On the other hand, the struggle for justice in the aftermath of the Gujarat carnage is a story of selfless service, of a relentless quest for peace and of undying love for humanity. Fr. Cedric Prakash is one of those rare individuals who symbolize these great qualities.
Fr. Cedric Prakash is the director of an organization called Prashant in the city of Ahmedabad, which was the epicenter of the horrendous crimes against humanity that were perpetrated in Gujarat in 2002. The organization is in the forefront of monitoring and documenting human rights violations and advocating for religious harmony. Fr. Prakash himself, as the founding director of this organization has worked tirelessly to build bridges among various groups, and to secure justice and rehabilitation for the survivors. He has also been vocal in highlighting the ongoing plight of minorities in Gujarat and other parts of India.
Fr. Prakash’s work in the field of humanitarian advocacy predates the tragic events in Gujarat. He has worked ceaselessly to bring about religious harmony in the diverse religious landscape of India. This cause, for which he has worked selflessly for several decades, has been recognized in India and abroad. In 1995, the President of India conferred him with the Kabir Puraskar, for his work in the promotion of religious harmony. In 2003, the Indian American Muslim Council presented him with the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award for Humanitarian Work. In 2006, he was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, one of the highest French civilian awards, in recognition of his commitment to the defense and the promotion of Human Rights in India. The same year, the National Minorities Commission of India also honored him with the Minorities Rights Award.
Today, we in the City of Harvey have the honor of having Fr. Cedric Prakash in our midst. As Mayor of this wonderful city, it is my privilege to pay tribute to Fr. Prakash, and the cause of justice and interfaith harmony that he and his organization symbolize.
Fr. Prakash’s work shows us that in the midst of appalling cruelty and terrible crimes against humanity, there exists compassion, selflessness and an inspiring conviction in the brotherhood of humanity. Fr. Prakash’s persistent struggle for justice is a reminder of the proverb, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkeness.”
Thank you and God Bless You!