First They Killed My Father

Inspired by a book with the same title, written by activist Loung Ung, the movie tackles the issue of forced displacement, child encampment and Internally Displaced People (IDPs). Realized and directed by Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Special Envoy, the movie is a biographical historical thriller of Cambodian activist Loung Ung who was forced to be a child soldier since the early age of 5 during the Communist Khmer Regime.

I must say that parts of the movie are hard to watch, especially if you have not read about child soldiers and mistreatment of children in wartime previously. With my professional focus on child protection, it was quite frustrating to follow scenes of torture and mistreatment inside labor camps in Cambodia, knowing that these incidents are still happening every day in countries like Eritrea, and that the people I work with today in the camps have either been through the exact same atrocities or have fled their countries to avoid them.

This 1975 thriller depicts the problem of forced internal displacement as families are forced out of their homes and villages by the Regime and pushed away into camps where they undergo forced labor, starvation, mistreatment, confiscation of belongings, deprivation of healthcare and foreign medicine and the list goes on. It also deals with the pertinent issue of children’s human rights in wartime and conflict zones, by illustrating the life of child soldiers, children IDPs and depicting children’s life-saving journey fleeing their homes for a better future.

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