university of liberia, 1984, samuel doeOp-ed 

A Tearful Day on August 22, 1984 – Amid a Barbaric Stampeding of Peaceful UL Students’ Protest

A Patriot’s Diary with Ekena Wesley

Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, Dr. Patrick L.N. Siryon (all deceased), George Klay Kieh, Jr. et al were arrested by the regime. Their arrest was politically motivated. The administration of Dr. Mary Antoinette Browne-Sherman condemned the unlawful and unacceptable arrest of the University of Liberia’s lecturers.

37 years ago on Wednesday, August 22, 1984, Master Sergeant, Samuel Kanyon Doe addressed the nation. His mood was intolerant! His voice trembled. Emotions had set in. A heartbeat away from the Executive Mansion, UL students were holding a peaceful protest, calling for the unconditional release of their arrested lecturers. Master Sergeant, Sammy Doe was furious.

Enraged President Samuel Doe, dismayed, uneasy, and emotionally incensed, in a live broadcast, ordered his Defense Minister, Gen. Gray D. Allison to “Move or be removed!” Gray Allision, as a soldier knew what that meant. The once powerful and feared Gen. Gray D. Allison immediately sprung into action. Mind you, this was not about a football game. It was about ordering ruthlessness and brute force on peaceful protesters. Within minutes, the dreaded Special Anti-Terrorist Unit (SATU), joined by the Joint Security reportedly and armed to the teeth invaded the main campus of the University of Liberia. The men of war entered the main campus on orders to ‘shoot and kill on site! What manner of faceless cum heartless rage.

The scenes that followed amid SATU’s violent invasion of the main campus of the University were utterly balkanizing! Live bullets were fired indiscriminately at fleeing students! Undoubtedly, students were chased in hot pursuit by battle-ready soldiers, riot police, and members of the Joint Security as they fled in all directions. Dozens of students were reportedly killed although the regime claimed only two deaths. Families whose relatives had gone missing were asked to come forward. Sadly, no family ever showed up. Today the bones of their beloved relatives cannot be accounted for.

Several eyewitness accounts revealed how scores of students who tried to use the back of the University toward the Jallah Town’s enclave broke their limbs or were fatally wounded. It is anybody’s guess the outcome of students unconsciously and confusedly running away from the brute force of SATU down the very rocky terrain along the steep cliff at the back of the main campus of the University of Liberia. Imagine the consequences as innocent and defenseless students ran helter-skelter as they were disbursed violently.

There were accounts of raped female students, claims the regime also flatly denied. August 22, 1984, will continue to remain fresh on the minds of many Liberians today. Amid the blood, sweat, and toil of fallen martyrs dedicated to the cause of social justice, today we stand on the courage that embedded their zest, passion, and commitment for a better Liberia. The fateful repercussions of the brutal assault on innocent students protesting for a just cause cannot go away.

As a nation, we carry irreparable and torturous scars that sink deep into devastating memories. The dastardly misery of August 22, 1984, must have come and gone but the trappings of a conscious fight for social justice continue unabated. Long after August 22, 1984, gallant men and women of the student community continue to be bombarded by the dictates and traits of repressive regimes.

ekena wesly
Cdr Ekena Wesley, columnist

For the record, no singular Liberian pro-democracy and radical organization is compared to the indefatigable resolve of the students of this country. They courageously stood the test of time in fighting for a just cause for the greater good. They have at no time been tempted to wither or despair in the resilient fight for social justice and democracy in the small West African nation.

To those who have become martyred in the name of good governance, history will continue to be kind to you. For our heroes and heroines who continue to blaze the trail, history will record you in its annals for your selflessness, courage, and patriotism.

A revolutionary salute to the Student Unification Party (SUP) that has purposed to celebrate and memorialize August 22, 1984, under the Theme: “The Blood of Our Comrades in Martyrdom Will Water the Revolution for A Progressive Liberian Society – We Will Never Forget August 22, 1984” sadly, in the face of the horrendous and brazen attack on the students on August 22, 1984, coupled with a barrage of local and international condemnations, no investigation was ever carried out. Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) process did so little to investigate the sour events of August 22, 1984. Long Live the martyrs of August 22, 1984! Long Live the Fight for Social Justice!

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