(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – Wilhelmus de Bekker, bishop of Paramaribo, admits in an interview with de Ware Tijd that his statement about Bouterse supporters was unnecessary. In an earlier interview with Radio Netherlands World, the bishop had said that the people should never have been so stupid as to allow Bouterse to become President and that you cannot reason with stupid people. “Of course not everyone is stupid, and it was said in the heat of the moment.”
De Bekker still stands behind his participation in Tuesday’s protest march, and he does not think it is a problem that he makes political statements as bishop. There is separation of church and state, but “my opinion is clear: the truth must be uncovered.” Although he apologizes for his rather unfortunate statement, De Bekker does not mince words, saying, “Bouterse should never have become President, and the entire amnesty issue is the unavoidable result. It is clear that his main reason for becoming President was to avoid his responsibility. I do not believe he is innocent, otherwise I would not have joined the silent march.”
De Bekker is pessimistic about whether the truth will be uncovered. “It might be that the amendment to the law is legally sound, but it still is an unjust situation. I am really looking forward to what will be said at the trial in the coming weeks. Only then will we be able to judge whether Suriname can still be considered a constitutional state. No matter what may be said, Bouterse will certainly never come forward to tell the truth, let alone face the consequences,” he says. The bishop believes a truth commission is excluded by the Amnesty Act, as the usual practice is to tell the truth first before amnesty is granted, but here it is the opposite. And in addition, real forgiveness can only be granted by the surviving relatives. He is not pleased with the harsh language from the Netherlands and the possible repercussion from abroad. “The sad thing in such situations is that average citizens are hit, and not those who have created the situation,” says De Bekker, who fears, however, that the discord in society will have long-lasting effects.