‘Syrians are not ready to forgive’: Without transitional justice, Syria cannot rebuild

How were you able to live together before justice was served? These people killed your family?” asked Sawsan, a Syrian urban planner in her late twenties and one of the participants of the Syrian Leaders Disapora programme.

The room fell silent at Sawsan’s question. All eyes intently focused on Eric, a former Rwandan footballer-turned-activist who watched his fellow colleagues massacred in front of him. We waited for the magical words to drop out of his mouth, so that we could recline back in our chairs, holding the key to peace in Syria in our hands. But his answer didn’t satisfy the 20 young Syrians from different backgrounds, here to learn from the experiences of activists from war zones around the world. It was Sawsan who spoke up again: “I can’t sit by the mother of a dead soldier and understand her sorrows for the sake of unity. Her son killed my family and forced me out of my country, as I lived in a state of fear at having my asylum rejected and being sent back to my death. Before any type of reconciliation, I want justice.”

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