THE DIALOGUE BRIEF
The Deep Meaning of Dialogue
is being launched, all around us, in Darfur and the rest of Sudan,
in Myanmar, around Iran and the Middle East, in Kosovo, just to
quote some of the most visible examples, we are the witnesses of
developments, which are matter of deep concerns and fears, and where
the absence of effective dialogues do, or may lead to conflicts
and violence, and human tragedies.
Simultaneously, in other areas of the world, dialogues seems to
be leading at least to appeasement, and raise hope, such as in the
Korean Peninsula, or in the less noticed conflict in Chad where
rebels groups have agreed to enter into discussions.
But dialogue, often so difficult to enter into, is just the initial
step of what can be a long process, a process of understanding,
characterized by a lot of listening, a process of reconciliation
and often of healing; a difficult process, but not without hope
as the example of South Africa demonstrates.
Another remarkable case is the one initiated in the Eastern part
of Burundi, by Marguerite Barankitse. Shalom House (www.maisonshalom.net),
which she is at the origin of, provides perhaps one of the most
promising cases in point of what can be achieved through a mix of
dedication, hard work, common sense, creativity, respect, empathy
and humility, and above all profound humanity.
Dialogue, for Marguerite Barankitse, is a word with deep meaning,
as the context in which she operates is very much influenced by
the tragic years of Burundi's history and the hundreds of crimes
committed in cold blood, in particular against children and women,
crimes which are so difficult to forget and to forgive.
Nothing perhaps illustrates better the attitude of Marguerite Barankitse
than the way she describes her approach. "Who who kills is
the first victim. One cannot condemn a man, but only what he has
done. More than death, culpability prevents us to be human. Who
dies leaves in dignity and innocence. Who kills has to reconcile
himself with his conscience, so that is does not give the illusion
of being. Our role is to move in his direction so that the country
heals from the sickness from which it suffers since so many years
Thus the need to create occasions of encounters of a daily nature
and which generates mutual trust. We have to reach the hand of who
has committed a crime, so to free him from this crime, as this crime
also kills him, and prevents him to be a man. One has to give to
the torturer opportunities to ask for forgiveness. If slowly you
get closer to a criminal and you try to show him that he is a parent,
he might become himself a peace builder:"
Jean F. Freymond
1.Translated from Christel Martin. La haine n'aura pas
le dernier mot. Maggy, la femme aux 10 000 enfants, Paris, Albin
Michel, 2005, p. 156-157.