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Press release


  • 2 March 2006

Forgive but don’t forget? Speakers tackle ‘the F Word’


Revenge or reconciliation - which is the best way forward for communities facing up to the aftermath of war and atrocity?

That question is the theme of a special event open to the public at the University Meeting House on Wednesday, 8 March to mark the arrival of The Forgiveness Project in Brighton.

The Forgiveness Project is a non-religious, non-political charity set up to promote conflict resolution by collecting and sharing personal stories of those who have experienced conflict and violence. It also delivers educational and self-help programmes and fosters debate about how individuals and communities can learn to celebrate difference and overcome division.

The event features talks by University of Sussex research students who have had first-hand experience of life in Rwanda and East Timor following periods of appalling violence, a discussion session and a chance to view the Forgiveness Project exhibition. The aim is to examine whether Truth and Reconciliation Commissions - and other means communities use to bring injustice to light and to make people publicly account for their actions - are the best way to rebuild society, or whether more punitive forms of justice should prevail.

Talks will be given on the experience of South Africa by Dr. Steve Kibble of the Progressio development agency, and by Sussex researchers on Rwanda (Lyndsay McLean Hilker - recently returned from fieldwork there) and East Timor (Susana Barnes and Ben Larke - both involved in the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation process there). A panel discussion will follow, chaired by Dr Paul Oestreicher, Canon Emeritus of Coventry Cathedral and Quaker Chaplain at the University of Sussex, who has extensive experience of peace and reconciliation movements in South Africa and the Middle East.

Father Rob Esdaile, University of Sussex Catholic Chaplain, who co-organised the event along with lecturer Chana Moshenska, says: "The names which crop up day after day in news bulletins - Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Darfur, Chechnya, the Congo, and so on - demonstrate that this is no abstract academic exercise. Either communities divided by violence learn to face up to what has been done and find new paths of peace together or there can be no healing for our world."

The Forgiveness Project exhibition, called The F Word, can be viewed at the University's Meeting House from Wednesday 8 March to Sunday 12 March. It can also be seen at the Chapel Royal, North Street, Brighton, from Saturday 4 March to Tuesday 7 March.

The F Word features the stories of 26 people whose lives have been shattered by violence, tragedy and injustice, but who have chosen the challenging and often painful journey towards forgiveness. It is the work of journalist Marina Cantacuzino and photographer Brian Moody, who travelled to United States, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Romania, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine to collect the stories and present an alternative view on how to cope with violent conflict.

Notes for editors

To book a place for the event, email r.esdaile@sussex.ac.uk. Admission is £5 for non-University members.

For more details about the Forgiveness Project, see www.theforgivenessproject.com

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888 or email press@sussex.ac.uk

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