Posts Tagged ‘Fort Zeelandia’

amnesty |ˈamnistē|noun ( pl. -ties)an official pardon for people who have been convicted of political offenses : an amnesty for political prisoners | the new law granted amnesty to those who illegally left the country.• an undertaking by the authorities to take no action against specified offenses or offenders during a fixed period : a month-long weapons amnesty.verb ( -ties, -tied) ( trans. grant an official pardon to : the guerrillas would be amnestied and allowed to return to civilian life.ORIGIN late 16th cent.: via Latin from Greek amnēstia ‘forgetfulness.’")

The negative image of Surinam as a country where ‘rule of law’ is not properly practiced has last night once more been established. With a vote of 28 for and 12 against a new law that grants amnesty to those involved in the political murder of fifteen Surinam citizens in December 1982 (Decembermoorden), has been approved, after three days of fierce debate. The persecution of this crime committed in 1982  has been delayed for three decades now. Those murdered were fifteen citizens playing a public role in Surinam society, from lawyers and trade union leaders  to journalists and military men (*). Their supposed attempt at a contra-coup against the newly established military regime by a group of rebelling sergeants of the Surinam army in February 1980, has never been established.

Only in the last years a slow juridical process by a Military Tribuna, trying the accused, had been started and this was going to come to a conclusion finally this month, April 2012. The  special amnesty law for those involved in the December Murders of 1982 has been proposed very recently only. One of the accused is the actual president of Surinam Desi Bouterse, who has always denied having had direct involvement in the summary execution of the fifteen, though he has admitted (in 2007) that he – as a state leader of that time – carries political responsibility for the murders. On March 23, 2012, another of the suspects in the process who was part of the rebel sergeant group in the early eighties of last century, Ruben Rozendaal, made a new declaration to the court stating that Desi Bouterse had also personally taken part in the execution, killing two of the victims. In such circumstances, after all those years and fights of the relatives of the victims for justice to be done, this amnesty law was proposed and passed the parliament, signalling the negative state of the rule of law in Surinam.

The president of the Republic of Surinam Desi Bouterse has thus evaded to be tried by a Military Tribunal, a tribunal that is supposed to lay down its work directly after the Amnesty Law for the 1982 December Murder comes into force. Amnesty commonly means ‘pardon for people who have been convicted of political offences’. The word ‘amnesty‘ comes form the Greek word ἀμνηστία (amnestia) meaning ‘oblivion’. One thing is certain: a state of forgetfulness about the December Murders 1982 will not occur, on the contrary, with justice not done the December Murders will remain a negative element in Surinam society as long as those involved – in whatever way – are still alive. The argument for having this new amnesty law were a need for ‘reconciliation’ within Surinam society, the opposite has been wrought.

Commemorative plaquette for the 15 victims of the december 1982 Murders in Paramaribo in Amsterdam, at the side of the Mozes en Aaron Church, Waterlooplein: "In remembrance of the victims of the December Murders Paramaribo, 8 and 9 December 1982 (...) Tortured and shot dead by the military regime - They stood for Surinam and for democracy - Only justice will bring us peace"

Monument for the victims of the december1982 murders at the spot where they have been shot in Fort Zeelandia, Paramaribo, revealed in the year 2009 by the previous President of the Surinam Republic. Ronal Venetiaan: "On this spot fifteen prominent sons of Surinam were shot without any form of process by the military regime - they stood for freedom, justice and democracy (...) Their determination left us with the light of hope for justice and truth - This memorial has been unveiled on 8 December 2009 by the President of the Republic of Surinam Drs. R.R. Venetiaan."



Victims of the December murders

John Baboeram, lawyer

Bram Behr, journalist

Cyrill Daal, union leader

Kenneth Gonçalves, lawyer

Eddy Hoost, lawyer

André Kamperveen, journalist

Gerard Leckie, university faculty

Sugrim Oemrawsingh, university faculty

Lesley Rahman, journalist

Surendre Rambocus, military

Harold Riedewald, lawyer

Jiwansingh Sheombar, military

Jozef Slagveer, journalist

Robby Sohansingh, businessman

Frank Wijngaarde, journalist

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