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Stages of conflict - part 2
Case study: Rwanda - part 2

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Case study: Rwanda part 2

Again the three Stages of Conflict can be illustrated using examples from Rwanda.

Click here for a more detailed history of events related to Rwanda’s conflict resolution.

Phase 4 - Disengagement
Tutsi living outside Rwanda had built up a guerrilla army which eventually became the Rwandan Patriotic Front.(RPF). They had been fighting for political reform. When the genocide occurred the RPF invaded and took control of Kigali on 4 July 1994. They declared a ceasefire. The defeated Government and armed forces withdrew to neighbouring countries, taking with them an estimated two million Rwandan refugees.

Phase 5 - Convergence
Youth Camps sponsored by World Vision's PRAY (Promotion of Reconciliation Among the Youth) are helping survivors of the Rwandan genocide move on and cope with the trauma they suffered. Together the youth share their experiences and feelings, and gain common understandings and a vision for the future.

Here is the experience of Nyirabuhoro, a participant at a Youth Camp in October 2002.
Today was the first day Nyirabuhoro Gaudiose, 19, had seen her father and sisters in eight years. During Rwanda's genocide, her family fled in different directions in search of safety. A family of Tutsis, they were among the hunted group and literally ran for their lives. She hadn't seen them since then. She knew where they were, but she lived in another province now. Even if she did live nearby, she might not have the courage to visit.

But today, with almost 30 other young people in World Vision's youth camp, she found the courage. She walked right into the room where they still lay, right where they had been murdered. The bodies were actually unidentifiable, so she's not sure in which room her family was. They could've been any of the desiccated corpses stacked on each other in any of the old school rooms. Tears had formed before Nyirabuhoro stumbled out of the room. By the time she sat down on the grass outside, she was sobbing. Other teenagers sat alone, some weeping softly and others nearly wailing.

More than 50,000 people died on or near those school grounds in 1994. Genocide leaders had told citizens to collect themselves in schools and churches, and their act of cooperation would spare their lives. It was really just a method for rapid, organized killings.

After a few minutes, Mukasakindi Jennette, 18, approached Nyirabuhoro, and the two girls left quietly, arm in arm.This was Mukasakindi's second visit, but the more terrifying one because she looked more closely, she says. She had also been hiding during the genocide, but in the safety of her house. Mukasakindi is a Hutu, the group from whom the killers came. She didn't need to hide, but did to avoid having to watch the massacre. But she remembers the screams, the sounds of killings.

The students silently filed into the World Vision vans. The next stop was a youth centre, where the campers formed groups and discussed their emotions aroused by the genocide site. Many more tears came as they told stories, shared memories, described emotions.

"Everyone from Rwanda should see this so they will think about it before they do something similar again," one said.

"The prisoners should see this site so they realize what they did," another added.

"When they prove who killed these people, they should be killed themselves," said another.

Annet Ikiiriza, World Vision youth camp leader, stepped to the front. "Youth should be the base of reconciliation. That's why World Vision paid for you to come this week - reconciliation starts with the kids. We must learn to forgive too. We need to forgive the murderers if they ask because it's not easy to admit such a crime and ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness is how we can have a better land. We must forgive and let the government punish, not us."

And then, like at many other youth camps, the young people played games, sang songs, held dances, performed skits, watched movies and did service projects the rest of the week.

The youth camps are about young people actually making peace within themselves and being reconciled to their former enemies. World Vision's hope is that the young people will return home to fight against the generational hatred that has destroyed their nation. Instead they will lead their communities in steps of reconciliation.

According to Nyirabuhoro, they will. "The camp was good and I learned a lot about Gacaca (community justice) and how to behave to other people in my community. It's helpful to know about reconciliation. I must share what I learned with my friends."

Phase 6 - Integration
It's almost a decade since the genocide. Much has happened in an attempt to bring the people of Rwanda together in unity and to grow a culture of harmony creating a future of hope. One such initiative is an innovative community-based court system called 'gacaca', which means 'in the grass' as a way to deal with the released genocide prisoners.

Gacaca is based on a traditional process initiated by elders in a community when they judged an offence or a dispute serious enough for it to be brought before the entire community. The gacaca goals weren't so much about punishment but about restoring harmony.

With Gacaca the Government has calculated that enough guilty people 'will want a second chance to live a decent life' and will therefore confess. Gacaca, has an emphasis on collective truth-telling as a means of social healing through remorse and forgiveness.

Gacaca is an attempt to address a number of difficult issues. These include: majority participation in the genocide, impossibility of the traditional court system to process the enormous volume of accused, shortage of trained judges and clerks and the need to close the chapter of the 1994 genocide before being able to move on.

Gacaca is certainly a scene of considerable confusion, and one that cannot bring precise justice. But it is a dignified process, and the village confronts experiences of terror, deep sorrow and collective guilt in a unique and promising way.

Communities judge what their families and neighbours did in the terrible months of violence from October 1990 to December 1994. Each community elects nineteen people who are respected in the community to be judges. Then the whole community sits as a general assembly to hear confessions and accusations. Each assembly will sit seven times. They establish who was there during the genocide, who was killed, who lost their property, and who was responsible. Only those accused of ordering killings, or rape cases will be tried in a conventional court.

Gacaca offers an effective healing tool to Rwandan society as the guilty confess their faults and ask for forgiveness and the victims offer their forgiveness. The mass participation, the confessions and the apologies are the most hopeful sign that Rwanda can become identified not with genocide but with an extraordinary reconciliation.

Click here to find out what led up to these events Rwanda Case Study - Part 1