Riflessioni sul Perdono, sulla Dignità e sulla Riconciliazione

Thavory Huot

1. I negoziati di pace, generalmente, sono incentrati sulle dimensioni politica ed economica. Quale è la Sua percezione della necessità di toccare aspetti più profondi e genuini della riconciliazione e come si può ottenere questo?

In our lives, we have different experiences. If we come from a rich family, our view of the world will be different to people who come from a poor family. If we grew up in the city, we will see things different to if we grew up in a rural area. If we are a girl, we experience the world differently to a boy. All of this differing life experience will affect our own opinions and ideas. I try to show you one of many stories how we all have differing viewpoints depending on our own life experience. Those different understanding of issues can easily lead us to conflict if we do not try to understand each other. We all see the world differently. If we understand that our views are different and shaped our own experiences of life, it is easier for us to understand one another. We must take the time to listen and understand each other’s ideas before creating conflict with one another.
People in South East Asia, especially in Cambodia eat rice more than food made from fish and meat. We even eat Prahok, made of fermented fish, which looks awful to westerners. Women in the countryside like wearing long skirts and long sleeved shirts. We are proud of our tradition and culture. We thought what we eat is also delicious for people from different countries around the world.
Once, some children were invited to Italy to perform a play. They offered them good food. But the children did not eat. The sponsor asked the leader of the children group what was wrong. He said they do not eat such delicious food because they felt disgusted by too much cheese. They prefered rice. Next day they offered some mixed rice with vegetable. The children did not eat, either. What was happening? It was not the type of rice they eat normally. At the end the children cooked rice themselves and ate it with grilled chicken, pork, beef and dry fish happily.
I am a survivor of the three decades of civil war and genocide in Cambodia. I am Buddhist and very religious. I practice the Buddhist 5 and eight precepts and also meditation. I have a deep emotion on loving and compassion to others and myself. Since I was young, I was educated by my grand-parents to give tolerance and forgiveness to other people who did something wrong to me. They advised me to do no harm to others especially when we feel fear of them. In the genocide almost all my father’s family members were killed by Khmer Rouge soldiers. My father’s children were killed except me.
After the defeat of the genocidal regime I knew the murders and now it would be the right time for me to send the cases to the Khmer Rouge trial court. In 2002 I met an Italian man who worked at the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs (UNDDA). He asked me how I feel when there is a court for trial the KR? I said the Buddha teaches us to not revenge and forbids us to do harm to others by diffusing our anger. The Buddhist philosophy tells us to defy and degenerate the violence or anger. I need to calm down to de-escalate anger and antagonism. I have to learn skills to re-frame and re-focus the problem. I need to develop capacity to work together creatively and cooperatively. I need to engage in joint problem-solving of the issue at hand, focusing on underlying interests and needs rather than positions.
Now the question by the UN staff became a new relevance because the court exists. At present 4 high position leaders of the genocide regime were sent to court. What should I do to be a good girl for my family’s soul? There are the 4 Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Paths of the Buddha’s teaching to get rid of suffering as human being. They are:

  1. right speech,
  2. right concentration,
  3. right meditation,
  4. right job,
  5. right attempt,
  6. right affords,
  7. right thought,
  8. right livelihood.

Thus I feel that revenging them by scolding, killing or sending them in prison is not the right path. They are too old to sit in the hearing with too long process. I think when the court makes the last judgment they will have died. Asking them to do something unconditionally, to do whatever they can to pay back the damage of the society by their leadership is a better way. It is a sort of forgiveness. The Buddha says revengefulness is ignorant. Asking them to show their willingness to do good things is a better way.

2. Quali sono le condizioni nelle quali, al di là dell’assicurare gli interessi della parti in conflitto, può essere stabilito un processo incentrato su un senso di equità e dignità?

From my experiences I think first the third party as a conflict mediator should try to meet both parties one by one to see if they want to talk about the past, especially about their conflict. The third party should identify the problems and see what were the root causes of the problems. Let the conflict parties imagine and reflect on the emotions they experienced. For example are they angry? Why are they angry? why are they happy? The answer is, that we have emotions because we are human. As human beings we may make mistakes but we learn from making mistakes to avoid not to repeat the same mistakes in the future. The Khmer Rouge leaders look very despair, embarrassed, frustrated and quiet down when they are sitting in the court house. They do not show the same physical appearance, not as confident as when they were powerful. Even they do not have any dignity but they claim for fair and just sentence. But even though they seem to feel sorry, they refuse to accept their wrong doing in the past and blame their supervisees.
Another example of the Cambodian history was The King Norodom Sihanouk who was dismissed by Lon Nol, the President of the Khmer Republic backed up by the U.S. Government. In the genocide from 1975 to 1979 he was at the royal palace without freedom. His family and he were arrested, in fact. After the defeat of the Khmer Rouge, his family and he went to Beijing because the regime wanted him to assist in getting strong support from the UN and fought against the invasion of the Vietnamese Government. In late 1993 he became again the King of Cambodia. When he came to power again he did not revenge his enemies as he is Buddhist and Buddhism teaches him to have a correct knowledge about himself and the world around him. The Dhamma prepares him to skillfully deal with the difficult situations that araised in his life. At the end Dhamma makes his life easier and more comfortable.

3. Quanto il perdono è essenziale alla dimensione della riconciliazione? Alla radice della Sua cultura politica e/o della Sua fede religiosa quali sono i principi che implicano o escludono il perdono? Quali versi o detti che fanno parte del Suo personale patrimonio spirituale possono, nella sua opinione, avere un significato universale

Forgiveness is an essential dimension of reconciliation and it is a level of mind. It is an actual experience that lies beyond words and above the symbols. Human beings do not want to lose faces but show off their power of property, or power of positions, or beauty, or education, or experiences. Forgiveness is a subtle process with skills to manage mindfulness in order to conceptualize the action before you identify it. There is a saying in Cambodia according to Buddhist philosophy:
Revengefulness is ignorant

4. Il perdono richiede qualche forma di pentimento da parte di coloro a cui il perdono viene offerto? Il perdono ha condizioni o è senza condizioni?

Based on your experiences on working with reconciliation and forgiveness what are the structure and activities you would suggest for a universal council on reconciliation.
Yes, it does. Forgiveness requires the ability of the one to whom forgiveness is offered to look at and reflect on the past action. They need to be able to see beyond the issues so that they can feel empathy with themselves and with others which will allow them to understand the needs and feelings of both parties. When they understand, they have the ability to express themselves and accept their mistakes peacefully. However, they need to be able to be drawn into the spin of their anxieties and fears and build a capacity to create a path of answer and say sorry. They need to take seriously the issues to apologize to the public but they also need space not to be driven too fast into the solution. Those people need to envision the past and current issues as a window. It is important for them, while many people usually do not look at it. In the forgiveness process often people do not focus on the primary issues themselves and therefore they need more reconciliation techniques to permit them to develop strong compassion and love for an oriented forgiveness process. The forgiveness process has conditions for example the abusers must say they promise not to repeat their mistakes.

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