December murders


The December murders (Dutch: Decembermoorden) were the murders on 7, 8, and 9 December 1982, of fifteen prominent young Surinamese men who had criticized the military dictatorship then ruling Suriname. Thirteen of these men were arrested on December 7 between 2 am and 5 am while sleeping in their homes (according to reports by the families of the victims). The other two were Surendre Rambocus and Jiwansingh Sheombar who were already imprisoned for attempting a counter-coup in March 1982. Soldiers of Dési Bouterse, the then dictator of Suriname, took them to Fort Zeelandia (the then headquarters of Bouterse), where they were heard as 'suspects in a trial' by Bouterse and other sergeants in a self-appointed court. After these 'hearings' they were tortured and shot dead. The circumstances have not yet become completely clear; on December 10, 1982, Bouterse claimed on national television that all of the detainees had been shot dead 'in an attempt to flee'. The December murders led to international protest by numerous Western countries and human rights organizations. The former colonial power, Netherlands, immediately froze development aid. Many Surinamese civilians fled Suriname for the Netherlands. Bouterse has long denied guilt in the December murders. In March 2007 he accepted political responsibility for the murders, but he then also explicitly stated that he personally had not 'pulled the trigger' to kill the fifteen men. In March 2012, however, a former confidant of Bouterse testified under oath that Bouterse himself had shot two of the victims.
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