14 March 2006

Concern at conflict resolution as spectacle

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young

An international conflict-transformation expert has revealed plans to launch a reconciliation process in the North.
South African Brandon Hamber, who now lives in Belfast, yesterday said the reconciliation group Healing Through Remembering planned to unveil its blueprint for bringing together those caught up in the conflict.
The move comes within weeks of the BBC broadcasting several programmes that brought together a number of combatants for the first time.
Facing the Truth, which was facilitated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, also brought the families of some of those killed in the conflict face to face with former paramilitaries.
The Healing Through Remembering group has voiced concern about the reconciliation process being turned into a televised spectacle. The reconciliation group said every party involved in the conflict must acknowledge its part and this should include the state, the judiciary and the political parties.
Writing in today’s Daily Ireland, Dr Hamber contrasts the South African experience in dealing with reconciliation and the Facing the Truth programmes.
Dr Hamber outlined the Healing Through Remembering vision for the North.
“The view of Healing Through Remembering is that there are no quick fixes and no one is neutral in protracted political conflict. A range of interrelated options for dealing with the past are required, such as a living memorial museum, a day of reflection, a network of commemoration projects, and collective storytelling.
“For truth recovery, an informed debate is necessary, evidenced by the misperceptions created by the recent programmes. To this end, Healing Through Remembering will shortly be launching five detailed options for truth recovery for public discussion,” Dr Hamber writes.
He said the recent BBC programmes had failed to focus on relevant issues.
“There is no doubt that the BBC programmes have stimulated debate on dealing with the past.
“But in the long run, this will demand something more subtle than eerie music and darkly lit forums where victims and perpetrators meet in the glare of the camera, no matter how moving or personally transformative such meetings might be.”

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