Liberian Troops Invade University,
Arrest Student Leaders
August 1, 2000
Liberian Security Forces Monday invaded the campus of the University of Liberia and arrested key student leaders in connection with the statement they issued last week on the state of affairs in the country. Sources in Monrovia say a number of students were wounded in a melee that followed as security officers, mostly former rebels, went on rampage.
Sources in Monrovia say state authorities have confirmed that the students have been arrested and placed under "protective custody" in order to save them from attacks by angry families of wounded soldiers. Government authorities claimed that family members of wounded soldiers were planning to attack the university students for questioning the ongoing war between the Government and dissidents. Sources say the students will be flown via helicopter to the war front to witness fighting between Government troops and dissidents.
Students arrested are: J. Alphonso Socrates Nimene, President of the University Student Union, along with his Vice President, Bunor Vamah and Secretary General J. Karku Sampson.
In their statement, the students criticized what they regard as the high level of extravagance in the midst of poverty. They called for an end to abuses. They said Liberia was too "weak" to assume a status of a "pariah" state and called for reconciliation to end violence.
The Government has often used its followers, mainly disarmed Taylor's NPFL rebels roaming around the city, to intimidate opponents. President Charles Taylor deployed his feared Anti-Terrorist Unit at diplomatic quarters recently under claims that a mass demonstration was underway against the European Union suspension of aid to Liberia because of Taylor's backing of Sierra Leone's rebels. Claims of a demonstration were later challenged by opposition figures, but sources say the Government had planned to unleash its reservoir of disarmed fighters to cause disturbances under the pretext of mass anger against the EU. Ex-combatants invaded the home of journalist Medina Wesseh last year and looted her home, claiming they were angry over remarks made by her husband questioning the Government. She fled in exile like many others.
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