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University hosts screening of 'Pray the Devil Back to Hell'


Steve Spinks
22 October 2013
“What if we looked at war through women’s eyes? What if we looked beyond familiar images of male soldiers and ammunition and saw women – emerging as witnesses, courageous survivors, peace activists, political negotiators and heads of state?”

Southern Cross University will host the first local screening of award-winning documentary ‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’, based on the peace movement instigated by Liberian women during the long-running civil war, on Thursday, October 24 at Lismore’s Star Court Theatre.

Organised by Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, the peace movement became known as the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. The group included Muslims and Christians and they protested in a non-violent manner, wearing white.

They eventually managed to meet with former warlord and then Liberian President Charles Taylor to demand a promise he attend peace talks in Ghana, and when those peace talks eventually took place the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace ensured their presence was noticed by negotiators.

The group is credited with helping end the civil war and in the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who in 2005 became the first female President of Liberia, and indeed, the whole of Africa.

The screening will be followed by a high-profile panel discussion on the topic Women, War and Peace.

The panel consists of Andrea Cullinan, a senior advisor on Women's Empowerment, United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL); Kirsten Keith, former Prosecution Legal Officer at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL); Sara King, the Lismore-based founder of the Sierra Leone Book Project; and Janelle Saffin, the former Member for Page and Burma political rights activist. The panel will be chaired by the University’s Dr Natalia Szablewska.

“We are aiming for the event to be informal but generating lots of interesting discussion between panel members and the audience,” Dr Szablewska said.

“The topic of Women, War and Peace will have a different meaning for each of the four panel members personally and professionally. We will also discuss the significance of the panel members’ work.

“The film itself is inspiring and uplifting and it documents a great story that is little known outside of Liberia.”

The event is free and no registration is required. The film starts at 7pm.

Photo: Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace.