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Truth-Telling as Talking Cure? Insecurity and Retraumatization in the Rwandan Gacaca Courts.

Brounéus, Karen
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) Security Dialogue. 39(1):55-76.

This article presents unique material from in-depth interviews with 16 women in Rwanda who have testified in the gacaca, the village tribunals initiated to enhance reconciliation after the 1994 genocide. The aim of the interviews was to learn more about how testifying in such a public event as the gacaca affects psychological health. Do the women find the experience healing or retraumatizing? Are there other effects involved? There has been an assumption that testifying in truth and reconciliation commissions is a healing experience for survivors, and healing has been a central concept in the general reconciliation literature and in political rhetoric around truth commissions. However, the findings of the present study are alarming. Traumatization, ill-health, isolation, and insecurity dominate the lives of these testifying women. They are threatened and harassed before, during, and after giving testimony in the gacaca. The article provides a picture of the reconciliation process that we seldom see.(author’s abstract)


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