A Change of Guard

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Friday, 13 April 2012

Rwanda: Cambodian Actors Praise Nation's Bravery to Move On, After the Genocide

12 April 2012

A group of actors from Cambodian actors who are in the country to cast a genocide play have praised Rwandans for exhibiting bravery after the genocide which has helped then in the road to healing.

The actors said this over the weekend after attending the eighteenth Genocide commemoration event at Amahoro stadium.

The actors who are in Rwanda to cast their play 'Breaking the silence" said that people in Cambodia are yet to open up about what happened to them during a period of 1974 -79 known as "The Pol Pot era" which left approximately two million Cambodians killed.

Cambodians were killed through the combined result of political executions, starvation, and forced labour. Due to the large numbers, the deaths during the rule of the Khmer Rouge are often considered Genocide, and commonly known as the Cambodian Holocaust or Cambodian Genocide.

According to The play director Annemarie Prins, the Pol Pot era is still an open wound in the hearts of Cambodians which is why they have resorted to talking to people in theatre plays.

"Cambodians haven't had the chance to come out and say what happened to them because they never had things like Gacaca which helped Rwandans to open up. So they are still silently hurting which is why the healing is being tried on the theater stage," said Prins.

She however says that though the way the two genocides were conducted differently, the effects are the same which include feelings of 'survivors' guilt', of loneliness, shame and isolation.

Radio La Benevolencija, the NGO which arms the population of the Great Lakes region (Rwanda, Burundi and Congo) against 'hate speech' and produces the popular radio soap Musekeweya is hosting the play in Rwanda.

According to the Director of La Benevolencija Aimable Twahirwa says that rehearsals are over. Two Rwandese actors will bridge the language- and information gap between performance and audience in the local language, Kinyarwanda.

'Breaking the Silence' will be performed indoors in three cities in Rwanda. The huge network of grass root groups of Radio La Benevolencija will guarantee the performance and will also reach the villagers.

Like in Cambodia, each performance will be followed by an open discussion with the audience. Rwanda TV will record and broadcast the performance.

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