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GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE

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Question: Continuation of The Senate Torture Report as a Truth Commission CPNN article: The Senate Torture Report as a Truth Commission
CPNN Administrator
Posted: --

(The following is continued from the main article listed above.)

. . . .He may not have given orders or authorised anything.... I am just saying that the government that he headed caused many of our people deep, deep anguish and pain and suffering.... If Mr. Botha was able to say: I am sorry that the policies of my government caused you pain. Just that. Can he bring himself to say I am sorry that the policies of my government caused you so much pain? That would be a tremendous thing and I appeal to him."

Botha heard this appeal in a court of law, and sat there unmoved and unresponsive. Later, former Prime Minister F.W. de Klerk -- the one responsible for freeing Nelson Mandela and setting South Africa on a path toward democracy -- was also asked to apologize. He admitted that there were "bad apples" and that security forces committed acts of murder, torture, rape, and assault. But he denied that his administration ever directly or indirectly authorized such actions. Tutu said of de Klerk:

"To say I did not know... I find that hard to understand. I have ... got to say that I sat there and I was close to tears. I feel sorry for him. I am devastated. [For him] to make an impassioned apology ... and then to negate it. All that is required is to say that 'we believed in this policy but it is a policy that brought about all of this suffering. It is a policy that killed people. Not by accident, deliberately. It was planned.'"

His failure to apologize permanently altered Tutu's estimation of de Klerk.

"He would have gone down in history as a truly great South African statesman... What a great man he would have been.... He is a very bright lawyer who qualifies his answers carefully to protect his position, but in doing this he has steadily eroded his stature, becoming in the process a small man, lacking magnanimity and generosity of spirit."

So this is where we are. We are beginning to understand the truth of what happened. Our souls are heavy as we learn of the silent, hidden past. Eventually we will pursue more than just truth. We will discuss a formal truth and reconciliation commission, and will investigate who and how to prosecute the perpetrators of torture. We will hope upon hope for a sincere apology from statesmen, but have little confidence that one will be forthcoming.
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