Coup of 1980
The Rice Riot
In 1979 there were demonstrations
in Monrovia against the increase in the price of rice. In
an effort to discourage the importation of rice (Liberia's staple
food) and encourage the production of locally grown rice, the Tolbert
Administration increased the prices of both types of rice.
The opposition group PAL, headed by G. Baccus Matthews, called for
a massive demonstration through out Monrovia. The week before
the plan demonstration, the Tolbert administration made several
public service announcements against the demonstration.
On Saturday, April 14, 1979, hundreds
of Monrovians turned out to protest. The government had called
out both the Military and the Police to turn back the demonstrators.
The soldiers stood on the sidelines and watched, refusing to fire
into the crowds, the police confronted the demonstrators.
Shots were fired, some people got killed and almost every store,
shop and supermarket in Monrovia were looted. Matthews was
arrested and later released.
In the predawn hours of April 12,
1980, William R. Tolbert , 66, was overthrown by Master Sergeant
Samuel Doe and 16 other enlisted men of the Arm Forces of Liberia
In the coup, Tolbert was assassinated
along with 27, other government officials. 13 top ranking
ministers and members of the Tolbert family were tied to polls on
South Beach in Monrovia and shot to death.
Some of the 13 executed included:
- Frank Tolbert, brother
of President Tolbert and President Pro-Temp of the Liberian Senate;
- Cyril Bright, Minister
of Planning and Economic Affairs;
- C. Cecil Dennis, Jr., Minister
of Foreign Affairs;
- James A. A. Pierre, Chief
Justice of Liberia;
- Richard A. Henries, Speaker
of the House of Representatives;
- Frank Stewart, Director
of the Budget
- John Sherman Minister of
Parker, Chairman of the National Investment Council;
- J. T. Phillips
Their bodies along with the president's,
were dumped in a common grave. During the coup, Foreign Minister
Cecil Dennis had sought refuge at the U.S. embassy, but he was refused
shelter. He was later arrested and executed at South Beach.
Many high ranking government ministers
who survived were tried, beaten up and paraded through the streets
of Monrovia without clothes and shoes. The coup gave
the indigenous inhabitants real political power for the first time,
but Doe's violent overthrow was condemned by other African countries,
allies and trading partners. A flight of capital and the upper class
from the country occurred after the coup.
In president Doe first policy statement
on April 14, 1980, Doe said "The coup was most necessary,
because of uncontrolled corruption; failure of the deposed government
to be meaningfully responsive to the problems of the Liberian masses;
as well as its disregard of the "civil, human and constitutional
rights of the Liberian people"
Doe promoted himself to General and Commander in Chief and managed
to survive several coup attempts. He was finally captured, tortured
and killed on September 9, 1990 by Prince Johnson, ending Doe's
10 years of rule over Liberia.
Night in Liberia's History
During the early days of the
Liberian-Civil war, thousands of Gio and Mano Liberians had traveled
to Monrovia, many on foot to escape the fighting in their home county
of Nimba. Many of them on their arrival to Monrovia, took
refuge in the Saint Peter's Lutheran Church in Sinkor, Monrovia.
On the night
of July 29, 1990, Doe's soldiers walked along the beach to Sinkor.
They entered the St. Peter's Lutheran Church on the corner of 12th
Street and Tubman Blvd, about 7:00 PM.
There were over 200 soldiers from
the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), headed by an infamous Liberian
named Charles Julu. That night a horrible exercise in cruelty
and the execution of mass murder occurred. When the soldiers were
done and the screams were silenced, 600 Liberians had been slaughtered
and 150 others wounded during this one night in Liberia's History.
It is reported that President
Samuel Doe stood by and watched as the massacre of 600 people took
place, mostly with machetes.
Charles Julu &
is thought to be led by these individuals:
Julu won notoriety in early 1990s when he threw hundreds of
children including babies into water-filled wells after massacring
is also known to be the one who lead AFL soldiers during the
massacre of 600 Gio and Mano Liberians at Saint Peter's Lutheran
Church in Sinkor in July 1990.
- had this to say in his May
23, 1998, Speech at a Gedeh Conference in New York City ..."With
this in mind, we must look at where we are in terms of geography.
We are very far from Monrovia; we are rich; we are full of trouble;
and we know how to fight."
"Since we have already
fought, all we need now is to promise to fight and they will know
exactly what we are talking about. We have already earned the reputation.
All we need now is to maintain it by taking real action against
any group of people who endeavor to disrespect us. This means
that we will keep them busy in Monrovia. We’ll let Charles Julu
live in Monrovia, and let them wonder what he’s up to from time
Liberian Civil War Links and Articles
A Casualty of the Cold War's End -
Half a decade ago, with
the Berlin Wall coming down and the Soviet Union entering its
final days, a small-scale conflict in West Africa quietly put
post-Cold War U.S. foreign policy to an early test. Liberia's
civil war, which began with a cross-border raid...
War Against Liberia's Civilians: Grave Human Rights Violations
By: Anton Christen
An investigation by the American
organization Human Rights Watch has revealed that both sides in
Liberia's civil war are guilty of serious war crimes and human rights
violations. The organization is therefore pushing for an extension
and expansion of the UN weapons embargo.
Between June 2001 and March 2002,
the U.S. human rights group Human Rights Watch interviewed hundreds
of Liberian civilians who had been victims of war crimes and other
grave human rights violations in their country. The interviews provided
a clear and depressing picture of Liberian regular forces, and paramilitary
units personally responsible to President Charles Taylor, conducting
a campaign against the rebels of the group Liberians United for
Reconciliation and Democracy (Lurd) without any regard for international
law or human rights.