Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Last night I volunteered at and attended a fundraising event held by IRC San Diego. A film series of three documentaries, two of which were about refugees and one about the women’s movement in Liberia were held at small theater in La Jolla. ‘Pray the Devil back to Hell’ documents the women’s movement in Liberia strategic involvement during the all too recent civil war. Charles Taylor criminal, leader and warlord displayed a sick exertion of his power while the women of the country displayed their quite but power ability to bring peace. Sitting in fish markets singing songs calling for an end to the violence, withholding sex and blocking exits at peace talks were the tactics of these brave women.

Although ending on a positive note, the end of a brutal war and the election of the first African woman President (Ellen Johnson-Shirleaf), the film was hard to watch. I quickly put down my popcorn that I had bought with eager anticipation. When women are talking of how rape and amputation were regular scare tactics used by the rebel fighters during the war, one’s appetite suddenly disappears. I still find it astounding that human beings can do this to one another. I understand the ability and effectiveness of brainwashing techniques, propaganda and heavy drug use, but their leaders have no such ‘excuse’.

Child soldiers, young boys, were herded up like cattle and treated little better. Fed on a bizarre and caustic mixture of gun powder mixed with highly addictive drugs and food from whatever they could scavenge and steal from the local villages they terrorized, a whole generation of boys were killed or faced with the harsh reality of reconciliation with a nation that feared them. Going from such an extreme way of living to disarmament and detox has to be an extreme challenge to say the least.

Read the book Child Solder by Ismeal Beah. A first hand account of what its was like to be a normal boy growing up in a war torn country who find himself fighting and later recovering.


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