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PARAMARIBO—State owned television station STVS has apologized for pulling last Monday’s broadcast of the 10 Minute Youth Journal; the program, including the report of the commemoration of the December 8 Murders ran on Thursday night. Journal Editor in Chief Hennah Draaibaar said the TV station management has shown maturity. The Netherlands based media rights watchdog Free Press Unlimited, of which the journal is a partner said it was elated that the program was broadcast unabridged, yet still viewed the incident as a “childish form of censorship” that Government should investigate.
It was the first time in ten years the station stopped a broadcast of the Youth Journal, which only recently copped a prestigious award for its concept. The December Murder item concerned a report of the memorial last Saturday in the Alphons Church for the 15 men who were killed on December 8 1982 and for whose deaths President Bouterse is widely held responsible.
The last minute cancellation of the broadcast was immediately condemned by the Journalist Association SVJ said it was censorship. STVS Manager Shirley Lackin said on Tuesday that pulling the program had been a mistake, probably made by overzealous workers. “It was not supposed to have happened,” she said.
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–German oil exploration company RWE Dea appeared upbeat this week about the outcome of its seismic survey offshore Suriname. “Only five months after our arrival in Suriname we are pleased to announce the successful completion of a 3D seismic acquisition program in the offshore License Block 52,” the company stated in a press release issues on Monday. The measurements had been carried out in only 53 days, a few days early and on budget.
The release said the data will now be processed with the results becoming available for interpretation in the second quarter of next year. It said the results of the interpretation of the data should provide detailed information about previously identified prospectivity on the block. The seismic acquisition activities were preceded by an extensive environmental study of the entire survey area.
“With the aid of this new data as well as already existing vintage 3D data, we can now prepare a meaningful image of potential hydrocarbon reservoirs across the entire license area,” said Hans-Hermann Ecke, RWE Dea’s Senior Vice President New Ventures. “We’re particularly pleased that this significant program has been carried out efficiently and without incident,” Ecke adds.
The company offered no estimate of the reserve potential. The CIA World Factbook in 2012 estimated the country had 72 million barrels of proved crude oil reserves.
AMSTERDAM–Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans has said his Government will not request South Africa to arrest Desi Bouterse when he attends the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, because as Suriname’s President he has immunity.
“Mr. Bouterse’s court sentence remains, but it cannot be executed as long as he is President,” Timmermans said. To PVV Second Chamber member Geert Wilders who -together with fellow VVD-er Raymond van Roon- had asked about Bouterse’s arrest, Timmermans response showed that the Foreign Minister is being led by fear to take action against Bouterse.
Timmermans was pretty terse and almost dismissive in his responses, crisply answering “yes” to some of Wilders’ and Van Roon’s open questions. “Yes” to the question whether he knew Bouterse would be attending Mandela’s funeral and a short “yes” to the request whether he would answer before Tuesday, December 10th at 12.00pm. The Minster only elaborated in his response to the question whether he thought it prudent that Bouterse would be present at an event King Willem Alexander would be attending as well.
“South Africa has extended invitations to Heads of State and the Netherlands places high value on attending this extraordinary gathering; invitations to other heads of state are of no interest (to us),” he 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.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Leaders from the South Dakota governor’s office and the state National Guard say a recent visit to Suriname helped strengthen ties.
The Defense Department-sponsored partnership was established about seven years ago and numerous exchanges have since taken place to develop military, political, social and economic ties. Lt. Gov. Matt Michels and state Guard commander Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch visited the country late last month and met with several officials including President Desi Bouterse and U.S. ambassador Jay Anania.
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
AMSTERDAM–As President Desi Bouterse’s son Dino insisted in court on Thursday that he was innocent of plotting terrorist attacks on the US, two experts are saying that he may indeed have been tricked by Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Dino (40) was arrested in Panama in August, initially on drugs and weapons charges, and since two weeks on charges that he was forging ties with terrorist group Hezbollah. “He was duped,” Michael Levine, a former DEA agent told Dutch media on Thursday night. Geert-Jan Knoops, an international lawyer said it remains to be seen whether the Judge in Manhattan who presides over the case will accept the evidence.
Dino terrorism indictment that was announced on November 9th caused nationwide shock in Suriname. The President’s son who in the past already had run-ins with authorities, had been caught on tape offering his services to purported members of Hezbollah in return for an initial US$ 2 million pay-off he expected to come from Iran. Prior to that he shipped 10 kilograms of cocaine from Suriname to the US and brandished firearms. He could face up to life in prison for the three counts in his indictment.
But the experts interviewed by Dutch TV news magazine Nieuwsuur say the accusation is fabricated and full of holes. Levine said the DEA agents Dino is seen talking to on the tape are adept at making cases, especially when it concerns an attractive suspect that could get them big rewards and yield major headlines. The former DEA agent compared the men who work for the agency these days as “paid bounty hunting freelancers” and “paid criminal informants.”
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.