Examining competing notions of justice in Bosnia and Rwanda, award-winning Boston Globe correspondent Elizabeth Neuffer convinces readers that crimes against humanity cannot be resolved by talk of forgiveness, or through the more common recourse to forgetfulness
As genocidal warfare engulfed the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the international community acted too late to prevent unconscionable violations of human rights in both countries. As these states now attempt to reconstruct their national identities, the surviving victims of genocide struggle to come to terms with a world unhinged.
Interviewing victims and aggressors, war orphans and war criminals, Serbian militiamen and NATO commanders, Neuffer explores the extent to which genocide erodes a nation’s social and political environment, just as it destroys the individual lives of the aggressor’s perceived enemies. She argues persuasively that only by achieving justice for these people can domestic and international organizations hope to achieve lasting peace in regions destroyed by fratricidal warfare.
Boston Globe reporter Neuffer ably, sensitively humanizes two of the worst tragedies of the 1990s. By retelling the atrocities through her on-the-ground interviews, she coaxes readers more deeply into these two ghastly, complex tales. While she interviews victims and perpetrators, Neuffer focuses primarily on the victims and their search for relatives and justice once the violence has subsided. One particularly poignant story concerns Hasan Nuhanovic, a Bosnian Muslim whose family disappeared at the hands of Bosnian Serbs; while searching for them, Nuhanovic learns details of their deaths. Neuffer is honest about the difficulties faced by war crimes tribunals in 1996, the Rwandan tribunal was "an institution in disarray" and "strangled by a huge bureaucracy; riven by political infighting, nepotism, and incompetence"; the Bosnian tribunal, too, the author reports, is far from perfect, but general opinion allows that it's better than no justice at all. But buoyed by the courage of people like Witness JJ, a Rwandan woman whose testimony helped convict an official of complicity in rape, Neuffer is optimistic about the courts' ultimate success. The people she interviewed, though, are less satisfied by the search for justice. This comprehensive study lends an immediacy to these two conflicts and the vicissitudes of the growing movement for international justice. Five maps not seen by PW. Agent, Michael Carlisle. (Nov.) Forecast: American attention has certainly been drawn away from Bosnia and Rwanda, but the questions Neuffer asks about the boundaries between justice and revenge remain highly relevant. Readers concerned with international justice will be drawn to this book. Copyright 2001Cahners Business Information.