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Portraits of Reconciliation: Photographer Captures Genocide Survivors with the Perpetrators They've Forgiven

Amanda Y. Fung

Last month, photographer Pieter Hugo went to Rwanda, 20 years after nearly a million people were killed during genocide, and captured a series of unlikely, almost unthinkable tableaus. In each, a perpetrator of the 1994 genocide is shown next to the survivor of his crime. The people who agreed to be photographed are part of a continuing national effort toward reconciliation. The series was commissioned by the Hague's Creative Court as part of “Rwanda 20 Years," a program exploring forgiveness.

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  • Pine Watt

    I was honestly blown away by this piece. The love and patience of these people is moving.

  • Nicki Stewart

    This reminds me of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that was established by Nelson Mandela after apartheid and chaired by Desmond Tutu. These stories truly restore hope in humanity, even after the darkest of days.

    • Jelena Woehr

      Tutu is still an incredible figure in the forgiveness movement! He's doing a 30-day forgiveness challenge starting May 4th, actually. We've been in touch about GOOD participating: www.forgivenesschallenge.com

  • BForlaw

    Doesn't this take you to your core of hurt and hopefulness? If you're in the DC area and want to dialogue about it with Rwandan Theoneste Bizimana, co-founder of Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities in Rwanda, please join us at Bourbon Coffee, 2101 L St., NW on Sat April 12 from 3:00 til 4:30 pm. Bourbon Coffee is a Rwandan-owned enterprise.

    • Jelena Woehr

      Welcome to GOOD! I wish I was in the DC area to attend this event. You should post it as a DO -- just click "post" in the upper right corner, choose "posting something to do" and make sure to include the address and date. Will there be any similar conversations in the LA region?

      • BForlaw

        Thanks for your help, Jelena. I followed your suggestion. I'm not aware of anything in the LA region, unfortunately.

  • Kirsten Voskuil

    What has happened in Rwanda is so terrible, so incredibly sad it's beyond words. Luckily there are people who choose to not let the past destroy there lives anymore then it already has. I truly hope the country will be able to heal itself. I live in Holland and I'm definately going to check out the exhibition in The Hague.

  • Melissa Turkington

    This is absolutely heartwrenching and humbling. Human capacity for forgiveness is incredible.

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    This is absolutely incredible- a testament of what it means to connect to humanity:

    “I asked him for forgiveness because his brother was killed in my presence. He asked me why I pleaded guilty, and I replied that I did it as someone who witnessed this crime but who was unable to save anybody. It was the order from authorities. I let him know who the killers were, and the killers also asked him for pardon.”

    KARORERO, SURVIVOR: “Sometimes justice does not give someone a satisfactory answer — cases are subject to corruption. But when it comes to forgiveness willingly granted, one is satisfied once and for all. When someone is full of anger, he can lose his mind. But when I granted forgiveness, I felt my mind at rest.”