In Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden tells us about his days serving as a child soldier in the Liberian Civil War. The following article provides us with the real life truth behind the terrible conflict.
1989. Nine years after helping to overthrow the former Liberian government, Samuel K. Doe is now the president of Liberia, courtesy of a controversial victory in the 1985 elections. After surviving a near-successful coup attempt in the same year, Doe has presided over the country for four years, and is set to run for reelection in 1991. He does not, however, know of the growing anxiety and unrest in the Gio and Mano tribes of the Northeast, who had been severely ill-treated by Doe. After another failed coup in 1989, the tribes of the northeast revolt, and on December 24, 1989, a band of rebels led by Charles G. Taylor invade Liberia from the Ivory Coast. Taylor’s group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), quickly gained the support of Liberians and non-Liberians alike, since many are tired of the oppressive rule of Samuel Doe.
In an attempt to quell the uprising, Doe dispatched Liberian troops to Nimba County. The troops were merciless, killing combatants and noncombatants alike – It is estimated that over 200 civilians were killed during this time. Taylor’s forces (Some of whom were children – presumably where Raiden was in the Metal Gear universe) continued to battle with Liberian forces for several bloody years. Thousands more civilians were brutally slain during this time, most of which were killed by Taylor’s rebel forces. Their main targets were the Krahn and Mandingo ethnic groups, two groups that the NPFL accused of supporting Doe throughout his rule.
In 1990, ECOMOG (A West African peacekeeping force) was sent in to aid Doe’s forces in pushing back the rebels. When fighting began in Nimba County, the home of the rebellion, Taylor’s forces were welcomed by prominent Nimba County figures, and the citizens began rapidly mobilizing young men to join the NPFL. After they realized that Taylor’s only motivation was an attempt to rule Liberia and increase his power, and not to overthrow its oppressive leader, they quickly withdrew their support, but not without consequences: Anyone who did so was hunted down and murdered.
Eventually, another faction joined the fray. The Gio tribe of Nimba County rallied their own rebel forces under Prince Johnson, and entered the already bloody civil war. This made 3 groups that were now engaged in the fighting: The forces loyal to President Doe, Taylor’s NPFL, and Prince Johnson’s insurgents from the Gio tribe. Eventually the two rebel forces realized they shared a common enemy, and made a shaky pact to overthrow Doe together. After the joined forces of the rebel factions overwhelmed Doe’s government in the capital city of Monrovia, the country was thrown into a state of chaos, since no group was powerful enough to rule. Johnson’s group split off from Taylor’s due to policy differences, and he formed the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL). The INPFL finally managed to capture and execute former president Doe on September 9, 1990. Less than a month afterwards, ECOMOG once again intervened, battling back Taylor’s forces from Monrovia and appointing Amos C. Sawyer as President. Taylor refused to accept this change, and continued to kill anyone and anything in his path.
In 1991, the fighting spilled into the nearby Sierra Leone. The Krahn and Mandigo clans eventually were targeted by Taylor’s NPFL forces, and the refugees of these tribes united with several other tribes to form the United Liberation Movement of Liberia (ULIMO). In 1992, the ULIMO sided with ECOMOG to stop the takeover of Monrovia by Taylor. This new outbreak in fighting shattered whatever hopes of peace that had arisen after the appointment of Sawyer as President. Monrovia was eventually cut off from the rest of the world, as all the airports shut down, and roads into and out of the city were closed. In early 1993, ECOMOG managed to drive back the rebel forces from most of the city, making it a safe haven for refugees from other parts of the country.
The fighting didn’t stop there, however. Many more factions broke out, and as many as seven were fighting for rule over the war torn nation. Over 13 peace treaties were signed from January 1993 – September 1995, yet none of these lasted longer than a few months. Eventually, police-militia were sent to arrest Prince Johnson on murder charges, and fighting once again erupted in Monrovia. Johnson took 600 civilians hostage as “human shields”, and over 1,500 people were killed in the 7 weeks of fighting that took place.
On August 17, 1996, a cease fire was finally brokered between the warring factions, and a presidential election was arranged. In 1997, Taylor dominated the election, with over 75% of the vote. He surprised many when his term as president was a peaceful, constructive one, with invitations to many former exiles to come back into the country. Liberia, however, has not yet fully recovered from the wounds of the 7 year civil war. Over 200,000 were killed in the fighting, and the economy continues to struggle. Pipe-borne water and electricity are still unavailable, and schools, hospitals, roads, and infrastructure remain derelict.
ABOUT CHILD SOLDIERS
Approximately 21 percent (4,306) of the combatants who were disarmed were child soldiers under the age of 17.
-- Article by Janors