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THE STORY OF BRUCE MAYROCK (1947- 1969) – A Jewish Student who Set himself Ablaze because of Biafran Genocide during the Civil War.

Biafra war

THE STORY OF BRUCE MAYROCK (1947- 1969) – A Jewish Student who Set himself Ablaze because of Biafran Genocide during the Civil War.

Bruce Mayrock is one of the Biafran Unsung Heroes. While the war of extermination raged on in Biafra land, the whole world watched in awe as the combined forces of British, USSR, Egypt and Nigeria bombard and place an economic blockade over Biafra land, while the United States of America supervise them. This Noble Gentleman tried all he could to get the attention of the United Nations to stop the Genocide going on in Biafra land but all to no avail.

So, he paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving his life so that the Biafrans may be saved. He set himself ablaze in the UN garden in New York, yet the UN did nothing to help the Biafrans even up till today.

On that fateful Friday, May 30,1969, Bruce Mayrock appeared in front of the United Nations building in New York where world leaders had gathered for a summit. Within moments, in the full glare of hundreds of onlookers, Bruce set himself on fire. While he set himself ablaze, he had a sign with the inscription: “You Must Stop Genocide! Please Save Nine Million Biafrans”


Bruce Mayrock was born May 6, 1949 and he took his own life for people whom he never met before in May 30, 1969.
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 ßellevue Hospital where he was listed in critical condition with burns over most of his body and was pronounced dead shortly after midnight. At the U.N., guards found a large cardboard sign on the front lawn 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.”

In past years, two other persons have immolated themselves in front of the U.N. Both died of their burns. 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 the next January.

While at Columbia, Mayrock worked as a photographer for the Spectator sports department. Members of the youth’s family stated that he had worked’ actively to protest the war in Biafra, writing letters about the war to the President and leading government figures. However, all his efforts to get their attention were futile as no one was listening. He was an idealistic young man, deeply upset by the events in Biafra. People were being killed and he felt no one was doing anything. That’s why he did what he did.


This peculiar vehement protest against a conscienceless world that was steeped in deceit and conspiracy against the millions of children of Biafra dying of starvation, and women being raped and murdered or starved to death, was Mayrock’s story. All of these events were rarely or scantily reported by our press instead of being given the prominence they rightly deserve.

He died to attract the attention of the whole world to the sufferings perpetrated to our generation through deliberate policy of starvation. And, while that was happening, the entire world looked the other way as if those lives never meant anything. And Bruce became heartbroken, and went the way he did.



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