HIST 140 paper 2

HIST 140 paper 2 - Truth and Reconciliation? Peter Bohlen...

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Truth and Reconciliation? Peter Bohlen October 31, 2008 Section Number 700 Section Leader Igor Fedyukin In writing this paper, I have abided by the Honor Code at UNC-Chapel Hill. Signature: __________________________________________
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Ignorance is often described to be a blissful state. However, in situations such as those in South Africa, and in Yugoslavia I believe another saying could be formulated. Ignorance is apathy. Certainly this is not a state that humans should be in. Thus, in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was born, and in Yugoslavia, War Crime Trials were held. In an effort to demonstrate the usefulness of these two legalistic methods, I hope to show that although they were a great first step, they in fact did not finish the job that was needed for the people who suffered great losses during these arduous times. In both the TRC and the War crime trials, we see two very similar objectives. First with the war crime trials we see that the main agenda of the trials was to find out what really went on, “Establishing the truth about the war is at the heart of the controversies surrounding The Hague tribunal”.(Drakulic, 14) Similarly with the TRC, the following goal was stated, “He proposed that human rights violations should be investigated by a truth commission, not for the purpose of exacting retribution but to provide some form of public accounting and to help purge the injustices of the past”.(Meredith, 18) With these goals established, it is obvious that the primary hope was not for justice in these trials and hearings, but rather an exploration for truth. With the goal for a discovery of truth established, both events went forward in their own ways. First let’s examine the methods of the TRC. The TRC went about their journey for truth in what I would consider a very unique way. Instead of bringing criminals in for justice, it started off as more of a confessional. Individuals were allowed to come in and tell their stories. As more stories were told, it was obvious that these individuals had been through horrible and painful times. A few of the more outstanding cases were stories such as those of Nombuyiselo Mhlawuli,
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a woman who was widowed after her husband was disfigured with acid, and then had his hand chopped off and left in a jar, or the stories of individuals who were necklaced, a method in which individuals were placed in a tire and then burned beyond recognition. These are just some of the stories that were revealed to the TRC committee. This was a huge wake up call to the public. Suddenly more and more people started coming forward and telling their stories. Overall more than 21,000 victims came forward to testify. As more witnesses came forward, stories began unraveling, and more and more people’s roles were discovered for their part in the killing of thousands of South Africans. The TRC was obviously successful in the agenda of uncovering the truth. However what about justice for the victims?
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HIST 140 paper 2 - Truth and Reconciliation? Peter Bohlen...

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