From her vantage point as a reporter covering the reality of genocide and its aftermath in Bosnia and Rwanda for The Boston Globe, Elizabeth Neuffer tells the story of two parallel journeys toward justice in each country—that of the international war crime tribunals, and that of the people left behind.
By turns heartbreaking, blood-chilling, and inspiring, and including accounts from victims and perpetrators, forensic experts, and tribunal judges, three stories form the backbone of this book. We follow Hasan Nuhanovic, a young Bosnian Muslim student determined to discover the fate of his family lost at Srebrenica, as he matures over the years from a gangling youth to a man with the authority to testify before Congress in Washington, D.C. In counterpoint, we follow Witness JJ, a shy Tutsi woman of immense courage, who overcomes her modesty and the dictates of her culture to testify about her rape—an act that resulted in wartime rape being classified as a war crime. And we get a revealing inside look at the workings of the newly created international tribunals through the eyes of Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, an African American judge appointed to the court.
Neuffer's characters' stories and their competing notions of justice—from searching for the bodies of loved ones, to demanding war crime trials, to seeking bloody revenge—convinces readers that crimes against humanity cannot be resolved by simple talk of forgiveness, or through the more common recourse to forgetfulness. Only by providing justice, she argues, can lasting peace by established in regions torn by fratricidal warfare.