How does society move forward in the aftermath of dictatorship and massive human rights violations?

Mamos Media

How does it balance the need for justice and forgiveness and the Gambia move on?
Truth, Reconciliation, Justice, and Forgiveness:
-Ousainou Darboe “I have personally forgiven former President Yahya Jammeh.”(December 6, 2016.
Alagi Yorro Jallow
Truth and reconciliation commission is turning toward the good, the hopeful, owning our past to transform our future and restore our human dignity. Truth and reconciliation can be very churchy words. It is the kind of words that people use in high-minded ways, and anyone who is not in a high-minded mood often switches off.
The Gambia needs Truth Reconciliation and Repatriation Commission to shift to provide leadership for healing and a healthier nation. Let us understand that the horrors of Yahya Jammeh’s brutal dictatorship and human suffering continued decades after the settlement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provided for the equality of treatment for all human beings.
A truth reconciliation and repatriation Commission is the high road taken by the leadership of President Barrow – not by his political office but by dint of his moral courage and his commitment to reflect by his living up to which he believed. His grace in this aspect of his leadership will indeed be his most incredible legacy and unmatched among contemporary leaders.
If Rwanda could achieve peace and unity of its people (no tribalism but peace and progress in Rwanda today) after the 1994 Genocide, why not the Gambia! For example, we can do it; for example, the United Democratic Party leader and Foreign minister Ousainou Darboe said he has personally forgiven former President Yahya Jammeh after a court in Banjul granted him bail (December 6, 2016, Sam Phatey). Lawyer Ousainou Darboe’s magnanimity to pardon Yahya Jammeh is a tremendous opportunity to accept the darkness of our collective history and to proceed, without delay, with reconciliation and rebuilding our relationships as one Gambian, one people, and one nation.
His clear understanding matched Ousainou’s exceptional ability to forgive that the process of acknowledging wrong is the first step to repairing the damage and injury perpetrated. He recognized that if the Gambian people focused on building a future, they could not live in the past.
Let us not let it slip away. This is one of the most spiritual things one can do to embrace humanity.
Given the scale of trauma caused by the Genocide, Rwanda has indicated that however thin the hope of a community can be, a hero always emerges. Although no one can dare claim that it is now a perfect state and that no more work is needed, Rwanda has risen from the ashes as a truth and reconciliation model.
The Gambia, one of the smaller independent states in Africa, must be regarded as a model of how significant human trauma can be transformed to commence true reconciliation and rehabilitation. Human trauma can lead to stunted growth and mass withdrawal.
The reconciliation process in Rwanda focuses on reconstructing the Rwandan identity, as well as balancing justice, truth, peace, and security. The Constitution now states that all Rwandans share equal rights. Laws have been passed to fight discrimination and divisive genocide ideology. Primary responsibility for reconciliation efforts in Rwanda rests with the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, established in 1999. Rwandans have overcome one of the most horrendous genocides of all times; the 1994 Rwanda genocide with up to 800,000 people died, 250,000 women raped, leaving the country’s population traumatized and its infrastructure decimated. Since then, Rwanda has embarked on a holistic justice and reconciliation process with the aim of all Rwandans once again living side by side in peace. If Rwanda could do it, so could The Gambia, as it has demonstrated in toppling an entrenched dictatorship of twenty years without violence and bloodshed.
However, to deal with and overcome such a magnitude of human tragedy, Rwanda had to develop specific workable and genuine long-lasting schemes for justice after the Genocide. It operated on three levels: the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the national court system, and the Gacaca courts.
The United Nations Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTR) for Rwanda in 1994 to prosecute persons bearing significant responsibility for Genocide and other severe violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda between January 1 and December 31, 1994. Though it took several years, it was worth it.
The Gacaca court system: To address the fact that there were thousands of accused still awaiting trial in the national court system, and to bring about justice and reconciliation at the grassroots level, the Rwandan government in 2005 re-established the traditional community court system called “Gacaca,” where communities at the local level elected judges to hear the trials of genocide suspects accused of all crimes except planning of Genocide. The courts gave lower sentences if the person was repentant and sought reconciliation with the community. Often, confessing prisoners returned home without further penalty or received community service orders. More than 12,000 community-based courts tried more than1.2 a million cases throughout the country. The Gacaca trials also served to promote reconciliation by providing a means for victims to learn the truth about the death of their family members and relatives. They also allowed perpetrators to confess their crimes, show remorse, and ask for forgiveness in front of their community. The Gacaca courts officially closed on May 4, 2012.
After twenty-two years of dictatorship, Gambians should remember that out of suffering, healing is possible. Out of the darkness, light shines brighter, and without sounding too much about it, Gambian people cannot have one without the other. Gambians can reconcile and rebuild our great country with this ethos and empathy.
This is an opportunity to dig deeper into our imaginations and collective intelligence for solutions, to make great art, to forge stronger human connections, to plant deeper community roots, to try to listen to each other, and reconcile our differences.
The ball is in our court. The Gambia can choose to embrace life and peaceful co-existence through national dialogue, reconciliation, and healing as we identify the local base, international and other mechanisms to address justice issues or wallow in cycles of wars & violence.
TRRC will be a tremendous opportunity to accept the darkness of our collective history and to proceed, without delay, with reconciliation and rebuilding our relationships as one Gambian people. Let us not let it slip away. We can have a great nation when we reconcile and forgive.

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