Desmond Tutu’s Key Role in the Truth & Reconciliation Commission

Colleagues such as Mary Burton of Archbishop Desmond Tutu discuss how he got involved with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) assembled in South Africa after the end of apartheid. The TRC reviewed thousands of statements from witnesses and victims of human rights violations during the apartheid as a method of catharsis. TRC commissioners describe Tutu’s mission to hear the “stories of the little people,” whose sufferings had been previously ignored and how within the second day, he broke down from all the deeply heartbreaking stories he heard. But a colleague says that Tutu recovered and said, “‘This shouldn’t be about me. This should be about the victims…I can learn to control my emotions.’ There after, you would see him biting his hand when he was getting emotional to ensure the focus remained on the victims.” The TRC was set up in 1995 and the hearings began in 1996.

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Submitted by: Virginia Choi
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