Two killed, Several Arrested
…As Former GOL Fighters stage Violent Protest Again
Posted May 17, 2004
At least two persons got killed and over 10 were arrested during a violent protest by disgruntled former Government of Liberia militiamen.
Hundreds of former GOL militias who had gathered at the 72nd Military Barracks to be transported to the VOA disarmament site by UNMIL, resorted to a protest action yesterday upon the latter’s apparent failure to show up for the scheduled exercise.
According to some of the ex-combatants who spoke to The INQUIRER Newspaper, their protest action that turned out to be violent, was aimed at drawing the immediate attention of UNMIL to quickly have them disarmed and demobilized.
Continuing, the ex-GOL fighters claimed that UNMIL have on numerous occasions promised to transport them to the VOA disarmament site for the exercise but that have failed to come through. “For every time promised, they don’t come. Today again, they promised to come this morning but surprisingly they (UNMIL) did not show up. We are tired bearing arms. We want to disarm,” the combatants in a frustrated mood iterated.
Marching from the 72nd Barracks through the Red-light Market towards Congo Town apparently to reach the UNMIL Headquarters at the Old German Embassy, the ex-GOL combatants stressed that they want to turn over their arms now so as to start a new life by engaging in activities that will improve their lives.
Obviously, the action of the aggrieved ex-GOL militiaman disrupted normal activities in the areas 72nd Barracks, Red-light Market, Paynesville and adjacent areas.
At the Red Light Market, several marketers and others sustained losses as a result of looting that occasioned the protest action by the ex-GOL combatants.
The situation became very tense as the ex-combatants who were brandishing sticks and other objects set up roadblocks that disrupted the normal flow of traffic in the affected areas. They also engaged in throwing missiles that smashed the windshields of cars that left many sustaining injuries of various degrees, while defenseless citizens including students ran in different directions for safety.
The lifeless body of male was seen at the Zone-5 police depot, while one other corpse was observed lying around the Congo Town back road junction, both believed to be casualties of the unfortunate event of yesterday.
No formal report was received about the death of the two persons, but an account said the body at the Zone-5 police depot station was the result of an attempt by the victim to loot a shop in the area..
The protesting combatants said they will continue their action until UNMIL can take them to the disarmament site and give them their just compensation.
“We have disarmed since December but are yet to receive our DDRR benefits. UNMIL is taking us for a ride because they paid MODEL and LURD fighters as they disarmed. We are not stopping until Jacques Paul Klein can see the need to give us our benefit. We are tired, tired and tired. We want to disarm,” the fighters in a desperate mood hinted The INQUIRER.
All attempts by former GOL front-line commander, Gen. Roland Duo, to control the situation proved futile as the fighters at some point threatened to kill anyone who should stand in their way.
They accused Gen. Duo of siding with UNMIL to compromise their interest. “Gen. Duo is a traitor. He is working with UNMIL to seek his own interest. We will not listen to him,” the ex-GOL combatants maintained.
In spite of their threatening remarks, UNMIL military police in collaboration with the Liberia National Police were able to stop the disgruntled fighters from coming beyond the Congo Town back road junction where over 10 were arrested.
The police fired tear gas and chased the fighters who later fled the scene in different directions.
In a brief chitchat with journalists, UNMIL police commissioner, Mark A. Kroeker said UNMIL police along with LNP were doing all they can to bring the situation under control.
He expected his men to have taken about an hour to quiet the situation.
Commenting on casualties, Commissioner Kroeker could not confirm any death but said, obviously some persons might have suffered some injuries though he at the time could not give any detail.
Speaking on UNMIL Radio yesterday evening, the head of Sector One and UNMIL’s Deputy Force Commander Gen. Joseph Owonibi dismissed the claim of the ex-GOL protestors, saying, “they were not scheduled to be disarmed now.”
He maintained that at the moment, UNMIL is disarming only those with guns and ammunition after which those with yellow chits will be looked at.
He said those that were disarmed but not paid will have their turn to be disarmed. Gen. Owonibi confirmed that the situation has been brought under control and that UNMIL was patrolling the area.
For his part, UNMIL CIVPOL Commissioner Kroeker speaking on the same UNMIL Radio, called on residents of the area to report any unusual assembling of people.