Thousands take part in silent march against Suriname amnesty

(de Ware Tijd Editorial)

Thousands participated in yesterday’s silent march against adoption of the controversial Amnesty Act by Parliament.

The big turnout is a warning that opposition to the Act should not be underestimated or ignored. As the issue is legally complex, many do not understand what is going on. Street interviews show that few people know the contents of the Amnesty Act. Statements by participants in the march focused on threats to the constitutional state and establishing a truth commission. Many favored a justice first, then a truth commission strategy.

The march’s organizers did a good job in keeping such a huge mass under control, with police assistance. The fact that the government has issued a permit for the march shows it has respect for democracy and freedom of speech and expression. Suriname will not benefit from unrest and violence. In spite of the pain caused by adopting the Amnesty Act, there was much restraint at the protest. The surviving relatives have an interest and they should not allow political and union influences to cloud it. In that respect NDP chairman Desi Bouterse was wise to bar his supporters from organizing a counter-protest at the same time, as polarization is not exactly what we want. Hawks do not realize that unrest leads to self-destruction and justifies intervention by foreign powers, providing a basis for re-colonization. It is only when the chaos clears up that everyone realizes there are no winners. There are some who thrive on chaos and destruction, and they should never get an opportunity for that. The surviving relatives have sufficient peaceful means to find redress. Street protests lead to street protests and it is not difficult to predict the end result, so those responsible should keep calm.

THE HAGUE HAS already found a way to pressure Suriname, using the remaining development aid funds as a tool. The Dutch know very well that all parties in Suriname, both coalition and opposition, have already included the end of Dutch development aid in their plans. Politicians in the Netherlands clearly have outdated insights about the remaining development aid and have forgotten that the country is cutting development aid all over the world, as it can no longer afford to provide this due to economic problems. The threat of suspending remaining development aid is thus an idle one and unworthy of a country we have good ties with, particularly as the aid is subject to a treaty. This opening is being used as an excuse to avoid meeting obligations to Suriname.





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