Nyundo reconciliation community event.
The community event on unity and reconciliation organized by Prison Fellowship Rwanda through Robert Borsch Foundation took place on Thursday 28th February at Nyundo Petit Seminaire pitch bringing together thousands of Rubavu community members.
Fifty former genocidaires who are serving their terms of sentences asked for forgiveness families of survivors and their own families.
The former genocide perpetrators, their families and survivors of the genocide embarked on a journey of healing and reconciliation through mediation and restorative justice processes.
When former perpetrators recognized their guilty and complicity during the genocide, they wrote confession letters to the genocide survivors revealing their explicit role and circumstances that led to the slaughter of their victims. Former genocidaires, survivors and their families took on a journey of forgiveness and reconciliation with the help of PF Rwanda chaplains. Several systematic training and dialogues took place covering all aspects of forgiveness and reconciliation until former perpetrators apologized to the families of their victims and their own families.
The community event at Nyundo attracted community members who had been affected by the genocide and other residents who had come to witness reconciliation unveiling.
Gaetan,62, who was an official before the genocide said how they mobilized people and the youth to spread divisive politics. He was part of the then Bikindi cultural troupe which used art and traditional songs to incite hatred towards Tutsi. He recalled vividly an event sometimes in April…
“The genocide against the Tutsi did not start in 1994 as many think, it goes way back in 1973. I remember growing up when I saw the militia burning houses and killing people leaving thousands homeless. I remember when we ate a cow that had been forcefully taken from a Tutsi family. Shortly before the genocide started, I was with a group of Interahamwe heading to a meeting rally. We were hanging in car’s window chanting hate inciting songs when we stopped at a road block. I hit an innocent man with a club and fell dead in the ditch. I also killed a priest and seven people who were alongside him.” He later confirmed that the healing process he was part of allowed him to embrace the reality, recognize the magnitude of his crime, how it affected survivors and his family and decided to repent and ask for forgiveness. He is now an advocate of unity and reconciliation inside the bars, calling on his fellow inmates to acknowledge their complicity so they can heal their hearts, help survivors heal and free their families.
Joseph whose father was apologizing, was one-year-old when his father got incarcerated. His mother abandoned him. As a result, he ended up on a street. He said he ‘could not see the future. Everything was dark, there was no hope at all and life was extremely unfair. No one seemed to care and the entire world had fallen on me.’ He was happy that he finally reunited with his father, took time to heal and forgive his father. Now that hope is risen, he considering resuming his studies after a long time since he dropped.
Representative of Government institutions and members of international NGOs and Prison Fellowship Rwanda partners were present, the Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) who was a guest of honor, affirmed that when efforts are drawn together to seek forgiveness and granting forgiveness, it contributes enormously to unity and reconciliation.
Rwanda Correctional Service, one of the main PF Rwanda partners counts about 27,000 genocide convicts. Statistic demonstrates the only 22,2% have acknowledged, confessed their complicity and have been forgiven. By the end of next year, over 12,000 genocide convicts will be released. A mechanism to put in place a trauma based justice approach and prepare them to re-enter the community should be developed to ensure sustainable peace and recidivism free society, said the representative of the Minister of Justice.