Forgiveness cannot be demanded, says Tutu

People living in immense suffering cannot be forced to forgive their enemies, but helping them do so is the best way to bring about lasting peace, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said yesterday.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner said when wars come to an end, only forgiveness enables people to fully move away from conflict.

Drawing on experiences in South Africa, where he helped organise non-violent protests against apartheid and later led the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Archbishop described his amazement at seeing black victims of violently racist white rule forgive their oppressors.

"You couldn't have predicted what was going to happen," he said.

"People who should have been consumed by bitterness and hatred would be remarkably magnanimous. Human beings are very, very odd creatures; [victims] sometimes wanted to embrace people who had committed the most ghastly atrocities."

The acts of forgiveness by those victims, he said, helped South Africa turn itself around after apartheid to avoid what could have become a "racial bloodbath". "You can't make anybody forgive another," the Archbishop warned.

"And yet, when that occurs, it is like saying: 'I give you another opportunity.' To forgive is to say: 'I give you another chance to make a new beginning.' Forgiving is never easy and it is never cheap. It isn't anything that you can demand of others. But when it happens it has an incredible capacity to change a situation."

The Archbishop, 78, made his comments during a debate in London for the Forgiveness Project, a charity that helps opposed factions in conflict zones reconcile.

Those sharing a platform with Archbishop Tutu at the debate, which The Independent sponsored, included perpetrators of violence and its victims. Jo Berry, whose father, Sir Anthony Berry, was killed in the Brighton bombing, sat alongside Pat Magee, the IRA activist who planted the bomb. They were joined by Mary Kayitesi Blewitt, a Tutsi who survived the Hutu-led Rwandan genocide.

Ms Berry and Mr Magee both spoke of the need to acknowledge why people commit violence, and the hurt their actions cause victims.

But Mrs Blewitt, who lost 50 members of her family in the genocide, said forgiveness was difficult when so many perpetrators of the Rwandan violence had yet to be held to account for their actions.

"The reason we still have violence in our community is because it is so easy to forgive," she said. "I subscribe to the notion of forgiveness. But forgiveness without justice, to me, is a delayed atrocity."

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
Researchers have said it could take only two questions to identify a problem with alcohol
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...

Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: If you are a committed Te...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style