LGen (Ret’d) Roméo Dallaire launches new film ‘Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children’ at Amsterdam docs festival
November 18, 2012, (AMSTERDAM) — In a packed auditorium at the renowned Pathé Tuschinski theatre, retired general and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire launched a new documentary yesterday evening entitled Fight like Soldiers, Die Like Children.
Based on his 2010 book, the film was directed by award-winning filmmaker Patrick Reed and produced by Peter Raymont of White Pine Pictures. It follows the journey of the former UNAMIR force commander through Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan, in his battle to end the use of child soldiers.
“Today, there are more than 250,000 children who have been recruited—often by force—to participate in armed conflict worldwide. Many of these girls and boys are stolen from their families, maimed, raped, drugged, used as sex slaves or otherwise abused,” said Dallaire.
“This truly is a crime against humanity, and I have dedicated the rest of my life to ending the use of child soldiers once and for all.”
Since his retirement, Dallaire has become an outspoken advocate for human rights, mental health and war-affected children. In 2006 he founded the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, an organization committed to ending the use of child soldiers worldwide, based at Dalhousie University.
“For decades, the international community has worked to end the use of child soldiers around the world,” said Shelly Whitman, the Initiative’s Executive Director.
“While we have made some progress, the military recruitment of children continues to take place in one form or another among more than 50 state and non-state armed groups. We absolutely need to move toward prevention—rather than reaction—and put children at the top of the security matrix if we are going to end to this horrifying reality,” she said.
The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam hosted a Q & A following the film, featuring Reed, Raymont, Dallaire and former child soldier Kon Kelei.
Said Kelei, “People often talk about second chances for child soldiers, but what about a first chance? That’s what the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is all about. Children should never be put in this position in the first place.”
Dallaire added, “I hope the film makes people uneasy. We should all be unsettled by the unspeakable wrongs being done to children in conflict zones around the world. It is my sincere hope that by engaging new audiences, we can help build the political will to finally end the use of this weapon system.”
“The entire White Pine Pictures team has been outstanding. Reed is quite simply a masterful storyteller. And I am thankful for his work to help shed light on one of the critical issues of our time.”
Over the coming year, Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children will be screened in theatres across Canada and televised on TVO, Knowledge Network and other networks worldwide.
About the organization
Founded by retired lieutenant-general and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is a global partnership committed to ending the use and recruitment of child soldiers worldwide, through ground-breaking research, advocacy, and security-sector training.
Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire was the UN commander during the Rwandan genocide. After 1994, he wanted to transform his hellish experiences into a constructive contribution, so he decided to join up with a mission to end the deployment of child soldiers. Will Dallaire succeed in his mission this time, or will he again be forced into passivity while the world looks the other way? On his journey through Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan, Dallaire hears how children are indoctrinated in devious ways. They often have no choice but to become child soldiers. In animation sequences, a child soldier explains that he went to the front because he didn’t have a home to go to anyway. Dallaire also talks with a girl who had to serve in the barbaric Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony. She even knew the man himself. “If you just arrest Kony, everything will end,” she says. Dallaire visits local self-defense groups such as the Arrow Boys, who protect people against attacks by the LRA, and he goes to a Congolese army base. His journey brings him into contact with the father whose daughter was kidnapped by Kony’s army, giving a face to the 250,000 child soldiers worldwide.