I didn't want to watch Camp 72 because I knew it would be an emotional ride. I didn’t want to watch a documentary about rape, murder and war. I usually feel angry and am ready to take up arms to fight whatever evil is portrayed as the villain destroying human spirit. Only to later feel impotent and wonder how I, just one person, can affect any change.
I was not wrong about emotions running high with this documentary. Everything I feared I would see or hear was exactly what was shared. The documentary introduces us to victims, mostly women, who survived a horrendous 14 year civil war in Liberia that began in the 90’s. Many victims were teenagers and children and watched the horrific deaths of their loved ones and endured great suffering that no human being should ever experience.
Yet even after listening to each heartbreaking story and shedding tears, I am glad I did watch Camp 72. The documentary presents not only the atrocities of war, but the process of healing for victims and an entire country. While Liberia has been in the headlines recently due to the Ebola epidemic, the country is still trying to find resolve from a civil war that ended a decade ago. The war may be over but the wounds remain very fresh.
I watched as the national process of healing had a committee hear testimonies from 20,000 people that were subdued into submission by rebels who often used rape as a weapon of war. Who could survive a culture where human life had no value? And what happened to the rebels that took lives so freely? This is where the anger set in and I questioned the government that has refused to prosecute the guilty. Of the guilty, some are often sitting in a government seat in the present peace time. I felt anger as I listened to the men who had once been the combatants carrying out the inhuman crimes. Yes, war would be very different if people knew they would be held accountable but in Liberia’s case very few have been held accountable for the slaughter of 250,000 people.
By this time I have my armor ready for battle and then, astonishingly, the victims voices call out for peace. For the victims, finding peace means letting go and moving forward. “Vengeance belongs to God,” says Gladys a survivor of the war crimes. “God will one day repay my debt.”
Camp 72 is a very moving documentary that every adult should watch. It will remind us that while we disagree with the politics that plague our country today, our nation has been mostly spared from barbaric and inhuman crimes. We should also be grateful that we are a country that is always in search of justice. I myself am reminded that shying away from the discussion of human rights issues is denying the peace and justice that the victims seek.