While the world celebrates the ‘UN International Youth Day,’ Rwanda offers a special lesson for youth worldwide who want to learn about reconciliation. For starters, South Korea is seeking to find the secret behind the fast paced reconciliation Rwanda is experiencing 15 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Both countries are on the same mission of reconciling their citizens, from histories of violence and dire acts against humanity. Unlike Rwanda’s situation South Korea’s was purely political.
Over fifty years ago the country was hit hard by the Korean War, in which authorities secretively executed tens of thousands of southern Leftists with their sympathizers.
Except in whispers, people could not speak about the violence that occurred for fear of further execution under the reigning right-wing regime.
This barred the reconciliation process and it was only four decades later in 2005, that the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Korea (TRCK), was established to deal with investigations surrounding the mass murders.
The common saying, ‘silence is the best revenge,’ is annulled, when Rwanda and South Korea’s experiences are analyzed. While others choose not to say a word about deep rooted hurt feelings, many would rather break the silence and face issues head on.
Eventually for them, healing becomes a reality and not an act of superficiality.
Rwanda as a State has pursued reconciliation as a priority task, but real reconciliation does not happen on policy level.
It happens at individual basis. Today, it is an unfortunate fact that many youth are still affected by the Genocide against the Tutsi; not because they participated but because they are carrying burdens and paying for the ‘sins of their fathers.’
Hidden guilt and victimization is rooted deep within as stories are passed on from generation to another. As a result they struggle to thrive to their full potential.
Reconciliation needs to tackle real issues. This means unmasking the skeletons in the closet in order to achieve purposeful justice.
Reconciliation cannot happen in a day but is a slow and painful process that many are not enthusiastic about. Rather, the easier option is building walls, which only creates a society of superficial people instead of authentic people.
Reconciliation for development whether it be social, economic, political or spiritual cannot be done away with. For Rwanda, it is the essence of healing a nation no matter how bad things were in history.
For this reason, Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC)has shown more progress since its establishment in 1999, as they implement and drive policies to heal and get over 15 yea-old deep rooted wounds that many are still holding onto.
Letting go through forgiveness is the genuine answer to reconciliation. This for Rwanda is much supported by the government, but in reality, it comes down to each individuals letting go of their hidden feelings of hate .