many as a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered
during a 3 month period in 1994 by radicalized Hutus, in an
attempt at a complete ethnic cleansing of the country. The
speed and brutality of this act of genocide was unprecedented
in modern history, and was largely ignored by the UN and the
rest of the world while it was happening.
it possible to heal the scars created by such an act? The
government of Rwanda wants desperately to foster healing through
reconciliation instead of retribution. They want the survivors
of the genocide to forgive the men who killed their families.
Imagine passing on the street the man who murdered your husband
and children and be expected to accept their freedom. This
is what the government is asking the people of Rwanda to do.
means "meeting in the grass," and that is where
the alleged killers are brought before their accusers to stand
trial. Gacaca trials are held in maize fields, on soccer pitches,
and in village markets, where the people of the area are invited
to come witness against the prisoners, who are usually dressed
in pink. The gacaca court cannot sentence a prisoner to death,
even if they are thought to be guilty of multiple murders.
In 2003, tens of thousands of genocidaires were released from
2002, I shot at several gacaca courts near Kigali and Butare.
What I found was a society in the process of holding its breath,
waiting for the inevitable confrontation between killer and