Article by Taisiia Sakhno.
I am writing to propose for a prize a wonderful person, who has done so much for developing peace on our planet, Tore Nærland, a president and a founder of Bike For Peace organization in Norway. It has been a while since I got to know Tore and he never ceases to amaze me with his ideas and never ending projects of how to make this world better, safer for people to live.
Tore Nærland was born on April 28th 1954 in Nærbø, Norway. At age 15, he lost 95% of his vision from a rare genetic disorder called Leber. Due to this, he started going to a school in Oslo for the visually impaired. In addition to this, he travelled to several European countries and the USA through the blind organization where he encountered a lot of people who lost their eyesight after the Second World War, the Vietnam War and the Algerian war. This was the event that sparked his passion for other people.
From 1972-1978 Tore Nærland was very active in human rights work in eastern Europe, specifically people who were persecuted for religious and political views.
The first peace ride Bike for Peace organized was in Northern Ireland in 1978, together with Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan.
In 1979 Bike for Peace biked around the world in 79 days, starting in London and biking to Rome, via Egypt to Bombay, Calcutta, New Delhi, and India. After that, flying to Hong Kong and Japan, then coast to coast in the US, then back to London.
During Tore’s stay in India, he got inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s peace walks and other types of non-violent activism.
In Japan, he visited Hiroshima and met a woman named Kameno Fujiwara who was blind and lame from the shoulders down and was bedridden for an astounding 34 years as a result of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945. This meeting is what inspired him to work for nuclear disarmament, campaigning around the world.
In 1983 Bike for Peace took the initiative for the first international bike ride for ridding the world of nuclear weapons, between the two superpowers USSR and USA. The ride started in Moscow to Oslo, they then flew to NYC and Washington DC. Forty people participated in the core group, twenty people from the USSR and the other twenty from Scandinavia and the USA.
In 1984 Tore was a board member of the Christian Peace Association in Oslo, where the manager was Guri Ulforstad. She initiated a peace ship to Nicaragua summer of 1984 where Nobel Laureate Perez Esquivel was a participant. In 1988 the organization organized a friendship boat to Poland. We did not enter the city of Gdansk. Perhaps the boat had undesirable passengers on board. Some people suspect this was Tore.
In 1989 Tore held a speech in Leipzig in front of 200,000 people. Tore and his delegation then traveled to Berlin where he participated himself in tearing down the Berlin wall.
In 1999 Bike for Peace organized its longest-ever ride for peace lasting for 102 days. From Beijing, through Almaty, Moscow, and ending in Bergen. The ride went along the Silk Road in China, through Kazakhstan
In 2011 Bike for Peace was invited to Kazakhstan to ride a 2000-kilometer bike ride. When Kazakhstan got rid of 1410 of its nuclear weapons it was a huge inspiration for Tore and Bike for Peace.
In 2014 Bike for Peace organized a 72-day around-the-world peace ride against nuclear weapons, this tour was organized along with Mayors for Peace. The route was Manchester to London, Paris to Rome, Beijing, Japan, Kansas City, Washington DC and NYC. After that, the trip continued to Drøbak, Oslo, and Skien in Norway
In 2021/22 and currently, Bike for Peace has held and is holding campaigns in countries like Norway, Switzerland, Lithuania, Kazakhstan and England. In 2023 Bike For Peace had an event in Kazakhstan and participated in a peace conference in Vienna in June, and in Brussels as recently as July 2023.
Tore himself is a very charismatic and dynamic speaker and has personally spoken at thousands of locations like schools and public places about these topics for almost 50 years which shows how incredibly passionate he is. Tore and Bike for Peace has met with hundreds of members of parliaments, governments and mayors over the entire world, among them some very high profile people like Nelson Mandela, Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala, John Paul the Second, Pope Francis, President Andrei Gromyko, former prime minister of India, Moraji Desal, president Jimmy Carter, Andrei Sakharov, and Aung San Suu Kyi.
Today there are a lot fewer nuclear weapons in the world which makes Tore and Bike for Peace very happy, as they have had this as their main goal since 1982. They have held 240 campaigns in 114 different countries each lasting between four and 102 days, and held several thousand conferences. At these events, Bike for Peace has handed out informational material to politicians and journalists in English and Norwegian language. Bike for Peace is a grassroots organization where anyone can become a member and participate in the trips they arrange. One of the biggest challenges is that it’s hard to reach out to certain countries’ media like Iran and North Korea. Bike for Peace’s primary goal is to rid the world entirely of nuclear weapons and improve the lives of handicapped people all around the world.
I hope my message will not be too late and will have a chance to be noticed and get your attention, because Tore Naerland truly deserves it. Unfortunately the system here here does not allow me a to attach one of his books in pdf format, but I will gladly share it with you via direct email if you give me.