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1980 Surinamese coup d'état
|1980 Surinamese coup d'état|
Map of Suriname.
|Government of Suriname|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Johan Ferrier
The 1980 Surinamese coup d'état, usually referred to as the Sergeants' Coup (Dutch: De Sergeantencoup), was a military coup in Suriname which occurred on 25 February 1980, when a group of 16 sergeants (Dutch: groep van zestien, lit. 'group of sixteen') of the Surinamese Armed Forces (SKM) led by Dési Bouterse overthrew the government of Prime Minister Henck Arron with a violent coup d'état. This marked the beginning of the military dictatorship that dominated the country from 1980 until 1991. The dictatorship featured the presence of an evening curfew, the lack of freedom of press, a ban on political parties (from 1985), a restriction on the freedom of assembly, a high level of government corruption and the summary executions of political opponents.
The Netherlands granted Suriname independence on 25 November 1975. It was marked by social unrest, economic depression, and rumors of corruption. The hastily-created Suriname National Army had many non-commissioned officers who tried to unionize and complained about corruption and poor pay. Prime Minister Henck Arron refused to recognise them and arrested the ringleaders, who were to go to trial on 26 February 1980. Elections were also scheduled for March 1980.
President Johan Ferrier was eventually forced out of office in August 1980, and several months after the coup d'état by Bouterse, most of the political authority transferred to the military leadership. Until 1988, the titular presidents were essentially army-installed by Bouterse, who ruled as a de facto leader with few practical checks on his power.
December murders and Moiwana massacre
On 8 December 1982, a group of fifteen academics, journalists, lawyers, union leaders and military officials who opposed the military rule in Suriname were snatched from their beds and brought to Fort Zeelandia in Paramaribo, where they were tortured and executed by Bouterse's soldiers. Fourteen of those executed were Surinamese, and the journalist Frank Wijngaarde was a Dutch national. The events are known as the December murders.
In 1986 Bouterse's soldiers killed at least 39 citizens, mostly children and women, of the Maroon village of Moiwana, as part of the Surinamese Interior War, which was fought between the soldiers of Bouterse and the Jungle Commando led by Ronnie Brunswijk.
Transition to democratic rule
Elections were held in 1987 and a new constitution was adopted, which allowed Bouterse to remain in charge of the army. Dissatisfied with the government, Bouterse overthrew them on 24 December 1990 during another coup. The event became popularly known as "the telephone coup."
In 1991, elections returned to Suriname, and the New Front party gained 41 of the 51 parliament seats. Ronald Venetiaan, a fierce opponent of Bouterse, became president. In 1996, Jules Wijdenbosch was elected as president of Suriname on behalf of Bouterse's party, the National Democratic Party (NDP). In 2000 and 2005, Ronald Venetiaan was elected as president of Suriname. Dési Bouterse returned to power as president in 2010.
After becoming president of Suriname, Bouterse designated February 25, the anniversary of the day of the coup d’état, as a national holiday. On the day of the coup, Bouterse's soldiers burned down the Central Police Station of Suriname. The remains of the building now form the Monument of the Revolution, and every year on 25 February, the coup is commemorated there.
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- "Henck Arron (1936-2000)". Historiek (in Dutch). Retrieved 22 June 2020.
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- Caribbean Review (1980). "The Year of the Sergeants". University of Florida. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
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