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Friday, 26 May 2017

#BiafraAt50: Remembering Bruce Mayrock - The 20-year-Old man who set himself on fire in front of UN building to protest Biafran genocide


As May 30th approaches, the date set aside to remember the  Biafran fallen heroes, one of such hero and martyr,  Bruce Mayrock, surfaces on the internet once more.

Bruce Mayrock was a 20-year-old Hebrew student at Columbia University, New York, who immolate himself in front of the U.N. building while protesting against the genocide been committed Biafrans in the 1967-1970 Nigeria-Biafra civil war.

Bruce doused himself with a flammable liquid shortly and set himself on fire on the lawn outside the U.N. building in New York.

Two United Nations guards spotted the flames and chased the youth across the lawn with fire extinguisher. But Mayrock eluded the guards, racing in front of the North Lounge of the building before several hundred horrified delegates and onlookers.


The student finally fell to his knees beside a statue bearing the Biblical inscription “Let us beat our swords into plowshares * and the guards extinguished the flames.

Mayrock was rushed to ├čellevue Hospital where he was listed in critical condition with burns over most of his body and was pronounced dead shortly after midnight of May 30th, 1970, nine hours after he set himself ablaze.

The U.N. guards found a large cardboard sign on the front lawn (his placard) which said, “You must stop the genocide–please save 9 million Biafrans.” At the bottom of the sign, a quotation read, “Peace is where there is an absence of fear of any kind.” hero on fire.



Bruce Mayrock, who lived in Westbury, L.1., enrolled in GS and the Jewish Theological Seminary in September, 1967, but dropped out after one year and studied briefly at Hofstra University. He re-enrolled at GS last January.

While at Columbia, Mayrock worked as a photographer for the Spectator sports department.

His family stated in 2016 that Bruce worked actively to protest the war in Biafra, writing letters about the war to the president and leading government figures. However, according to one rabbi, ‘ who said he was close to the family, the student believed that people were being killed in Biafra and no one was doing anything about it.

"He was an idealistic young man deeply upset by the events in Biafra,” the rabbi said. “People were being killed and he felt no one was doing anything. That’s why he did what he did.”


Bruce Mayrock was born May 6, 1949 and he took his own life for people whom he never met before.

He died fighting for justice and equality.




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