Friday, July 22, 2005

International Conflict

Tutsi native talks about healing Rwandan genocide

Muscatine Journal/Muscatine/IA/USA/22-Jul-05

/…. Invited by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) to attend a reconciliation workshop in the neighboring nation of Burundi, Nyiramana slowly began to heal her deep emotional scars.

Wanting to start a dialogue with the Hutus, Nyiramana, who eventually converted from Catholicism to become a Quaker, organized a small group of Tutsi genocide survivors and Hutu widows to meet and talk.

At first, the two groups looked at each other in bitter silence.

"It wasn't easy for reconciliation," Nyiramana admitted. "But I chose women because they are the ones able to change their families and communities."

Three months later, at a followup meeting, the two groups began talking to each other. Soon they were collecting money to assist each other as well as raising corn and beans together for their families.

Nyiramana has started two other reconciliation groups in the north and east regions of Rwanda.

A new Rwandan government, which Nyiramana says is supporting her program, is overseeing a formal judicial reconciliation board that's slowly integrating former Hutu killers back into Rwandan society on the conditions that they fully confess their crimes and ask for forgiveness.

"I ask you to pray for that process to succeed," Nyiramana said to the audience.

In a twist of fate, Nyiramana recently crossed paths with the Hutu man who had threatened her life at the refugee camp. She said that she wanted to meet him after all that had happened.

The man, who lost his family in the genocide and is now unemployed, was frightened and unsure of what she might do to him.

"I told him that I forgave him," she said.

The man broke down and began to cry.

The two Rwandans, Tutsi and Hutu, have become friends, visiting each other often. ….


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