In previous posts I have addressed the issue of forgiveness in Rwanda, but I wanted to post again following a superb lecture I attended yesterday by Archbishop Desmond Tutu on “Is violence ever justified?

The lecture was followed by a panel discussion in which SURF Founder, Mary Kayitesi Blewitt, offered a powerful reflection on the issue:

Forgiveness without justice is a betrayal of my family. Forgiveness is between me and my God. It is not a matter of national policy.

Individuals who have to deal with the aftermath of horrendous atrocities should not also be robbed of their independence to decide when to forgive or not.

Forced forgiveness is insensitive, intrusive and morally isolating. Those who choose not to subscribe to society’s pressure to comply and be seen to forgive should be given that right to do so.

Violence can and is justified – not in revenge, but in defence. That defence for survivors is ever necessary today, as perpetrators continue and try finish what they almost succeeded in doing in 1994.

The full text of Mary’s address is available here: Forgiveness Presentation.

The lecture was an initiative of The Forgiveness Project, in which Mary’s story is featured alongside that of Archbishop Tutu.

The Independent newspaper also featured a report on the event.

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