Thursday, November 27, 2008

as we forgive-- in Rwanda (and everywhere)

Alyson Thoner in World on Laura Waters Hinson and her award-winning film on forgiveness in Rwanda, As We Forgive...

Hinson found a country still reeling from the horror, but also a country working hard to put itself back together. One of the biggest challenges facing Rwanda was what to do with tens upon thousands of imprisoned participants in the genocide. To her wonder, Hinson learned that new Rwandan President Paul Kagame, faced with bursting prisons and a 150-year court backlog of untried murderers, had implemented a conditional release program for participants in the genocide.

"Common" killers, who had not been ringleaders but were swept into the genocidal fury, could go free if they had confessed their crimes and had already served a certain minimum sentence. Many took the opportunity, and to date there are 50,000 ex-prisoners walking the red dirt roads of Rwanda. They live in houses next to people with machete scars.

The story only got more unbelievable. Some of the genocidaires, Hinson heard, were asking forgiveness from the survivors. And here and there, survivors were giving it....

"Forgiveness asks you to give up your right to be angry," says Hinson. "Reconciliation asks something much greater. It asks you to enter back into relationship with the people you've forgiven. That's what the Rwandans are doing, and it's astonishing."


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