Portraits of forgiveness 20 years after the Rwandan genocide

Rabiaâ Benlahbib on a collection of astonishing portraits of genocide survivors and their attackers.
(Lana Mesic)

Continue to the bottom of this post to see a selection of images from the Rwanda 20 Years: Portraits of Reconciliation collection. 

It's been twenty years since the Rwandan genocide pitted Hutus against Tutsis -- neighbour against neighbour -- and claimed over a million lives. In the decades since, the African nation has worked hard to move past those dark days of murder, rape, mass killing and other violent acts. 

Now, a new photo series hopes to capture something that may have once seemed impossible: forgiveness and in some cases friendship among former foes.

Jian speaks with Rabiaâ Benlahbib, director of the arts organization Creative Court, about the collection's astonishing -- almost inconceivable -- scenes. The exhibit, Rwanda 20 Years: Portraits of Reconciliation, features survivors sharing the frame with those who once terrorized them. 

Two very different lenses

Benlahbib notes that series photographers -- Pieter Hugo of South Africa and Lana Mesic of Croatian and Dutch heritage -- took very different approaches to their subjects. 

Hugo made very direct portraits in which the people "really look right through you", whereas Mesic asked the participants to think back to the moment of forgiveness and show her what it looks like. 

"Somehow a country needs to go on ... in order to really go on, you have to find hope in something," says Benlahbib