Opinion: DisgustedPOSTED: 04/12/12 12:08 PM
By Hilbert Haar,
Editor-in-Chief @ Today
Suriname set a new standard for politicians when it passed legislation that offers amnesty to the 22 suspects in the 1982 December murders. The most well known suspect of all is of course Desi Bouterse. For murdering 15 political opponents on December 8, 1982, the Surinamese people rewarded Bouterse years later with the presidency of their country. Now the parliament has put Bouterse and 21 other murder suspects beyond the reach of justice. To say that this is the will of the Surinamese people is probably the biggest insult those same people will have to put up with for the next ten thousand years or so.
Do I care about what the pro Bouterse movement has to say in his defense? Not really, mainly because they are all puppets on a string. If anybody is able to come up with a reasonable explanation for why 22 people should not be prosecuted for murdering 15 fellow-citizens who happened to have a different view on the future of their country, we would like to hear it. The point is of course that there is no reasonable explanation available. If you kill someone, or if you are suspected of killing someone, you ought to be subjected to the criminal justice system. That goes for all readers of this newspaper, for all the people who work here and for everybody else. But that is the theory.
Bouterse is now showing the world that it is possible to become a known drug smuggler, a ruthless killer and still end up as the president of a country. What if someone walked up to the presidential palace in Paramaribo and put a bullet in Bouterse’s forehead because he happens to disagree with the direction he is taking the country? Will the system do the same for that killer? Will the system wait a ridiculous thirty years with making something of the prosecution and make the killer the new president? Because this is the message Bouterse and his cronies are sending to the world. If you have enough supporters, you are free to do anything you want. Kill your political opponents, and then spit on their grave.
Now the Netherlands finds itself in a bind because somewhere there is still 20 million euro ($26 million) in development aid earmarked for Suriname. Are the Dutch now going to give this money to Bouterse’s murderous regime?
Sure, politicians want to send a message to Paramaribo. They are outraged – or so they say. But how mad are the Dutch really at Bouterse? He outsmarted them, by the looks of it. Being sticklers for rules in the minefield called international diplomacy the Dutch are now examining the legal possibilities of action against Suriname.
Nobody seems to have noticed how ridiculous this is: Bouterse and his clan are breaking all the rules in the book, and the Dutch are looking at the fine print in the rule book in case the former soldier has overlooked something.
The situation in Suriname is not about what is legally possible anymore. It is, first and foremost, about what is morally right. I don’t want to get down to crude language here, but there is an appropriate four-letter word starting with an F followed by “the rules” that expresses our feelings about this situation to a tee.
The Bouterse regime must be ostracized. If that goes at the expense of the people in Suriname, so be it. After all, they support the amnesty legislation that set Bouterse free. Okay, okay, we know that not all people in Suriname support this travesty. Those people have to take action, or suffer the same consequences as those who do walk behind the Bouterse brown-shirts.
There is no way – we repeat: no way – that anyone will ever take Suriname serious again as a decent country until Bouterse and his cronies are six feet under.
Since there is no way to speed up this process with democratic means, the remaining option is a complete boycott of everything Surinamese: no more trade, no more tourism, no more investments, a freeze on all foreign Surinamese bank accounts – and so on. Personally, I discovered a half-used package of Surinamese peanut sauce in my cupboard. After writing this op-ed I threw it in the garbage.
The crimes Bouterse and his clan committed occurred almost thirty years ago. They say that time heals all wounds, but the wounds with the surviving relatives of the December murders are still raw and fresh. If they were in a healing process at all, these wounds have now been brutally reopened by the shameless actions the Surinamese parliament committed.
Once upon a time, roughly nine to ten years before Bouterse turned into a remorseless killer, I admired him. He was a young soldier stationed somewhere in the north of the Netherlands for training. In his down time he played in a local basketball team. I played against him and I admired him because he was such an agile athlete. That sentiment has irrevocably changed: Bouterse disgusts me and all the people who support him disgust me as well.