Our Story, By Us
< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
PARAMARIBO–The regional commission that will seek compensation from former colonizers of Caribbean nations has identified public health, education, cultural institutions, cultural deprivation, psychological trauma and scientific and technological backwardness as the six broad aspects of the Caribbean condition that are the direct result slavery. “These direct results of these crimes should be the focus of reparatory diplomacy and action,” the Reparations Commission said in a Caribbean Community (Caricom) statement on Tuesday. It said the former slave owning countries in Europe should help to advance truth, justice and reconciliation for the victims of slavery and their descendants.
The Commission said its work was in commitment with the principles of Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African ant-apartheid advocate who died last week, and whose life is being celebrated globally since. “The Commission affirms its commitment to the living legacy of Mr. Mandela, who, by his sacrifice and teachings, provided the world with a moral and ethical framework within which the diplomatic and political search for truth, justice, and reconciliation can be attained,” the statement read.
The statement came at the close of a meeting in Jamaica during which the Commission aimed to define and set in train a plan of action; it was the second major meeting of the commission since Caricom Heads of Government agreed to its establishment at their meeting in July 2013 in Trinidad and Tobago.
PARAMARIBO–Disgust reigned on Tuesday after state-owned television station STVS pulled the broadcast of the 10 Minute Youth Journal because it included a report of the commemoration of the December 8 Murders. Journal Editor in Chief Hennah Draaibaar and Wilfred Leeuwin, Chairman of the Journalist Association SVJ said it was censorship.
It was the first time in ten years that the station stopped a broadcast of the Youth Journal, which only recently copped a prestigious award for its concept. STVS employees had not noticed it until the program was being announced. The station initially said at first that “people should understand that STVS is a state-owned station and that everything has to be checked before it is aired.”
Manager Shirley Lackin told journalists later that she did not know the program was yanked until Draaibaar called her about it. She said she understood why the people manning the switchboard stopped the broadcast. “There is a standing agreement that we carefully watch everything that gets delivered for broadcast. We receive all kinds of stuff and some of it can be offensive. The guys were just being thorough,” she said.
JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia) — Suriname and Guyana are expected to participate in the 40th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign ministers meeting, which begins Monday in Conakry, Guinea, under the theme: Dialogue of Civilizations: Factor of Peace and Sustainable Development.
Dr Anwar S. Lall Mohamed, ambassador-at-large and coordinator of OIC affairs, will represent Suriname on behalf of foreign minister Winston Lackin, who is in South Africa. Guyanese foreign minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, who was in Indonesia last week to attend the ninth World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting, will be in Conakry to attend the OIC meeting.
There will be a special ministerial session on the city of Jerusalem “to seek practical steps towards addressing the Israeli policies and plans aimed at Judaising the Holy City and dividing Al Aqsa Mosque,” according to an OIC press statement. The agenda will also focus on the conflict in Syria, the situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar after the recent visit of a ministerial delegation to that country, the Moro Muslims in the southern Philippines, the establishment of new OIC regional offices in non-member states, and the appointment of assistant secretaries-general.
By Marvin Hokstam
AMSTERDAM–Announcements that President Desi Bouterse will be attending Nelson Mandela’s funeral have prompted politicians in the Netherlands to ask whether their Government will try to have him arrested in South Africa on drugs charges. The questions by PVV Second Chamber members Geert Wilders and Raymond De Roon coincided on Saturday with calls from an anti-Bouterse movement for reclamation of the amendments to the amnesty law that could see the president pardoned for his role in the murders of 15 citizens in 1982.
That Bouterse will be attending Mandela’s Official State Memorial Service on Tuesday 10 December was announced on Saturday, by press release from the Caribbean Community Caricom. The release said the Heads of Government of Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas, Guyana and Jamaica will also be in attendance. Mandela, the first democratically elected President of South Africa, former Head of the African National Congress and international icon, died on Thursday December 5th, at age 95. More than 50 heads of state have confirmed that they will attend his funeral in South Africa next week, the country’s foreign ministry tells Reuters. Among them will be King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands.
In their questions to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, Parliamentarians Wilders and Van Roon hint that they do not think it is prudent for Bouterse to be present at any formal ceremony at which their king is in attendance. “Do you agree with us …,? they ask.
WASHINGTON–Suriname will modernize its revenue management and improve tax collection in the medium and long-term with a US$20 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
This is the first of three programmatic policy-based loans supporting the country’s reform agenda for the fiscal sector, the bank said in a press release. This loan will complement the Bank supported public expenditure reforms currently underway. This program will lay the foundation for a modern revenue system through the improvement of its tax policy and tax and customs administration.
The project will support measures to develop clear and concise tax legislation, introduce modern regulations and streamline processes to cut compliance costs for the tax payer and improve taxpayer services. The project will also help modernize customs to facilitate trade and increase revenue by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Customs Administration.
Measures supported by the project include training and improvement of customs procedures as well as the creation of an electronic platform that will enable data to be shared among different government agencies.
The IDB loan has a 20-year maturity, a 5.5-year grace period and an interest rate based on LIBOR
By Marvin Hokstam
PARAMARIBO–While on Friday embattled do-gooder Sinterklaas and his slavish black faced helper Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) were getting pummeled by bad weather as they delivered goodies to children all over the Netherlands, Suriname was banning the tradition that has become the center of heated racism debates.
The Ministry of Education and Community Development MINOV said in a press release on Wednesday night that December 5th, Children’s Day would be celebrated without the “Sint and Piet”. “It is important that on Children’s Day the attention is focused solely on the children, as opposed to sub characters that don’t have any relationship with our culture,” the release said.
The resolute stance by the Ministry follows an unprecedented agreement among opposition and coalition parties in the National Assembly last year that Suriname should drop this controversial remnant of Dutch culture. The Sinterklaas tradition had already been scrapped in the eighties, but in recent years, spurred on by commerce, the bearded do-gooder and his pitch black helper somehow retraced their steps back into Suriname. Parliamentarians unanimously voted for his indefinite departure from the Surinamese scene.
PARAMARIBO–Chantal Doekhie who has headed Suriname’s embassy in the Netherlands for the past year-and-a-half will formally be accredited on December 11th, 2013. This news that may serve as a another tangible signal that the Netherlands wants to thaw its relationship with Suriname, comes just days after the Kingdom Ministers approved the appointment of charge d’affaires Ernst Noorman as ambassador in Paramaribo. But while the Netherlands finally seems ready to accredit Doekhie, Suriname’s Foreign Ministry has hinted that accrediting Noorman is not on top of Government’s priority list.
Relations between Suriname and its former colonizer froze up in 2012, after the National Assembly passed an amendment to the amnesty laws that could see President Desi Bouterse and 24 fellow suspects pardoned for their role in the December 8 killings of 15 citizens. The amendment indefinitely derailed the hearings in the trial of the December 8 murders, in which Bouterse was the main suspect.
AMSTERDAM–After pulling its ambassador from Suriname in April 2012 in disagreement with political developments in the country, the Netherlands has finally decided it wants proper representation in Paramaribo again. The Kingdom Council of Ministers on Friday approved the appointment of Ernst Noorman as ambassador.
Noorman, a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador in Burkini Faso, has served as charge d’affaires in Paramaribo since June this year. His appointment as ambassador will take effect after it has been accorded by Suriname’s Government. Dutch Foreign Minister Fran’s Timmermans who recommended Noorman for the ambassador’s post said he was convinced Paramaribo would react positively, as Noorman has worked n the country for some months now.
Timmermans has adopted the position of his predecessor Yuri Rosenthal, who pulled former ambassador Art Jacobi out of Suriname after the country’s National Assembly approved an amendment to its amnesty legislation that could see President Bouterse and 24 fellow suspects pardoned for the 1982 murders of 15 citizens.
PARAMARIBO–Government has submitted to Parliament, the draft legislation to reintroduce the military draft. “Barring other arrangements, every Surinamer who is a resident of Suriname and is between the ages of 18 and 35, is obligated to fulfill their military duty,” the first article of the legislation reads. The draft has already been approved by the Council of Ministers and also passed the Council of State.
It is accompanied by a draft legislation on “conscientious objections” that affords a waiver for those who are breadwinners, are indispensable, are studying, or are members of parliament. President Bouterse had indicated early on after his 2010 swearing in that he would push for reintroducing mandatory military service, for a minimum of 18 months. The draft was introduced in 1970 for men between 18 and 35, but the rule was shelved in 1992 in the aftermath of the internal war.
PARAMARIBO–Suriname is getting a monument for the 45 Dutch soldiers who died while serving in the country. The memorial will be unveiled on November 27th, just days after another statue that pays homage to the fighters who perished during the interior war that raged in the eighties. That monument will be unveiled on November 25th, Suriname’s 38th Independence Day.
The Dutch monument was produced in the Netherlands and shipped to Suriname. It is an initiative of the foundation of retirees of the Dutch Army’s Tropical Detachment TRIS that was stationed in Suriname from the Second World War until the independence in November 1975.
In total there were some 15,000 soldiers stationed in Suriname from 1945 to 1975. Those who the monument pays homage to, died of several causes, ranging from tropical diseases to traffic accidents and even mishaps with landmines. The remains of 25 have been shipped back to the Netherlands, but many still lay buried at cemeteries in Suriname.