PORTRAIT OF A PEACEKEEPER
Col. Raza, Portrait of a Peace Keeper, is a 20-minute documentary short showing a ‘day in the life’ of legendary and beloved Col. Raza Malik of the Pakistani Battalion II, part of the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL forces sent to Liberia in the wake of that country’s protracted and gruesome 15-year civil war. The film was shot in late 2004, only eight months after Raza’s arrival, when the ceasefire was still tenuous and the process of peace and democratization were in their infancy. We learn from Raza that Voinjama, the town they were assigned to in northwest Liberia, was considered at the time one of the most dangerous places in the world. In fact, the Nigerian forces assigned to Voinjama prior to Raza’s and Pakistan Battalion II’s arrival had refused to stay there.
Raza gives a comprehensive overview of Voinjama’s unique position, both geographically and strategically, and its importance as a trend-setting hub for peacemaking in the country and in the larger sub region. We see him with lines of ex-combatants collecting their small cash payments in exchange for turning in their weapons as Raza explains how and his men were able to forge respectful relationships with key rebel leaders, making it possible to accomplish the disarmament of over 15,000 ex-combatants without firing a single round. We see him interacting with notorious rebel commander known as Master General, who became a key ally and energetic proponent of the peace and disarmament process.
We see Col. Raza among ex-combatants, children, aid workers and returning refugees. We accompany him on his visit to the UN medical clinic and to the returning refugee Transit Center as he explains how he works and also his philosophy on peacemaking and humanitarian aid. We learn how, as a military commander, he elicits the very best from his men and the cooperation of the community. We hear his elation in describing how the decimated bird and animal population is gradually returning to pre-war levels. We see him distributing food and clothing to needy children and former fighters. He speaks of the importance of women I Liberian society and in the peacemaking process.
Most important, we hear how Raza holds himself and his men personally responsible to lead by personal examples, including the voluntary decision of his officers to fast one day a week in order to give their rations to hungry children in the community.
At a time when the role of UN Peacekeepers is often misunderstood or maligned, when skilled Muslim peacemakers are seldom seen in Western media and when Pakistan is increasingly associated with rising terrorism, this portrait of Col. Raza is a refreshing and unexpected glimpse into the heart and mind of a man whose extraordinary skill and deep commitment to humanity and peace are unique.
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FILMS PRESENTS “PORTRAIT OF A PEACEKEEPER”
PRINCIPAL CINEMATOGRAPHY BY ULLI BONNEKAMP EDITED BY VINCENT STENERSON
WITH STILL PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDRE LAMBERTSON, CYNTHIA TRAVIS & COL.RAZA MALIK,
UN PAKISTAN BATALLIAN II FEATURING RAZA MALIK
ORIGINAL MUSIC BY JAMI KOWAH FARBALEE, OLDMAN GOE, BOI SENIE & AKOI KUBBEH
DIRECTED, PRODUCED & WRITTEN BY CYNTHIA TRAVIS
CO-WRITER WILLIAM SAA