I watched the Empire in Africa last night about the war in Sierra Leone. It was a powerful and disturbing film that showed the beatings, torture, and killings of people by fighters from all sides. The film portrayed foreign governments and the UN as the forces that perpetuated and funded the violence, and the Nigerian forces in ECOMOG definitely got a bad rap, but everyone had blood on their hands. The film also showed the duplicitity in politics and how the people that made the rules kept changing them to their advantage. I dont think there was a winner, and the people of Sierra Leone were definetely the losers.
I still don't understand the motivation behind the amputations, why they were chopping off the hands and arms of the civilians, even the little kids. Its not an easy movie to watch, but exposes the complexity and horrors of war. It made me wish for peace.
But similar things are happening on the African continent right now. What can be done to stop the violence? According to this film, the government only agreed to negotiate when political and media pressure forced them to the table. Before that, they were in a fight to exterminate the rebels and were leveling villages with air attacks and mercenary forces.
I don't think there is an easy answer. In order to get media attention to bring pressure on the government, tens of thousands of people died, and many of the mutilated were put on camera. Some leaders rightly fear the power of the media and strictly control or target the media because the exposure of their actions would lead to international concern and force them to change their behavior.
I am sure the millions of people who have suffered through similar tragedies or are currently going through such things wish more fervently than I for an easy answer or solution. Right now, I don't know what can be done.