On day two after the storming of the parliament building in Paramaribo, the streets are quiet. The city center is still closed to traffic. The heavily damaged National Assembly is guarded.
After the looting on Friday (local time), shops are keeping their doors closed. Sunday markets in the capital are allowed. Because some gas stations are closed as a precaution, there are traffic jams in front of the pumps that are open. The police intervened here and there to curb the traffic chaos.
According to the latest information, 128 people have been arrested in the riots. At least 26 people have reported to the emergency room, Surinamese media report. Four people suffered gunshot wounds. The police and army also used tear gas in the clashes.
The leader of the demonstration that got completely out of hand reported to the police last night. Stephano Biervliet of the opposition Party for Law and Development has been arrested at the police station.
Biervliet says he had nothing to do with the disturbances. In a live stream on Facebook, the activist gave his account of the events. According to him, another group is responsible for the storming. Biervliet says he has had no contact with these people.
Biervliet also held similar protests under the previous Bouterse government. They have always been peaceful. According to the opposition politician, that was also the intention on Friday. Then thousands of people joined the demonstration against the government of Santokhi-Brunswijk. The dissatisfaction is directed against the poor economic situation, high inflation and nepotism.
‘Serious attack on press freedom’
At some point, the peaceful protest turned. The anger of rioters was not only against government buildings, police and shops, but also against journalists. The interest group for the press has spoken out strongly against this violence.
“The verbal intimidation with threats, the destruction of camera equipment, the stealing of a telephone and the setting fire of a journalist’s vehicle must be characterized as very serious attacks on press freedom,” writes the Surinamese Association of Journalists ( SVJ) in a statement.
The police were not well prepared for the situation, Justice Minister Amoksi said at a press conference. For example, the mobile unit was deployed too late to stop rioters.
“You can plan as well as you want, but when the first shot is fired, anything can happen,” said army commander Werner Kioe A Sen. According to news website Starnieuws, he was full of praise for the security services, who have “kept a cool head”.
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