The Day of Liberation and Innovation is observed annually on February 25 in the Republic of Suriname, the smallest country in South America. On February 25, 1980, the corrupt government in power at the time was overthrown in a military coup led by Sergeant-Major Dési Bouterse and 15 other military sergeants who refused to recognize it. This multi-ethnic tropical country is an ecotourism destination offering spectacular natural landscapes and friendly people. Formally Revolution Day, since 2018, the day is now officially known as the Day of Liberation and Innovation.
History of Day of Liberation and Innovation
Formerly Dutch Guiana, Suriname was a plantation colony belonging to the Netherlands and gained independence on November 25, 1975. On February 25, 1980, a military sergeant called Dési Bouterse overthrew the corrupt government of Suriname in a violent coup also known as the “Sergeants’ Coup.” Bouterse, alongside fifteen other military sergeants called the Group of Sixteen, imposed a military dictatorship in the country. Bouterse became the de facto leader and chairman of the ruling National Military Council of Suriname.
On the day of the insurrection, soldiers shot at the Central Police Station, then burned it down. It is now known as a “monument of the Revolution.” The regime imposed an evening curfew and curtailed freedom of the press, allowing only one newspaper to publish under heavy censorship. From 1980 to 1988, a succession of military regimes followed. Bouterse installed titular presidents though he himself remained the de facto leader and controller. The terrible rule, characterized by several human rights violations, lasted from 1980 to 1991.
On December 7 and 8, 1982, the worst of Bouterse’s crimes occurred. Called the ‘December murders,’ 15 prominent men accused of criticizing Bouterse’s military dictatorship or who had a connection to the coup d’état attempt in March of that year were tortured and executed. The group included two lawyers and a journalist. Just one of Bouterse’s many crimes, he ordered soldiers to carry out a massacre on the village of his opponents, killing innocent women and children. He was also convicted in absentia for trafficking cocaine in the Netherlands. In November 2019, Bouterse was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for the December murders. He is appealing the conviction.
Day of Liberation and Innovation timeline
Suriname gains independence from the Netherlands.
The Sergeants Coup overthrows the government of Suriname.
Revolution Day is changed to 'Day of Liberation and Innovation.'
Déesi Bouterse is sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for what became known as the December Murders.
Day of Liberation and Innovation FAQs
Is Suriname still under a dictatorship?
No, Suriname now practices a democratic, unitary assembly-independent republic.
Who is the current president of Suriname?
The current president of Suriname is Chan Santokhi.
What are the ethnic groups of Suriname?
Suriname is made of 27.4% Indo-Surinamese, 21.7% Maroon-Bushinengue, 15.7% Creole, 13.7% Javanese, 13.4% Multiracial, 3.8% Amerindian, 1.5% Chinese, 0.3% European, and 1.9% others.
How to Observe Day of Liberation and Innovation
Maintain a moment of silence
Many lives were brutally taken during the military dictatorship led by Dési Bouterse. Let's honor those lost by maintaining a moment of silence.
Stand against oppression
Suriname is just one of many countries that have been oppressed by militant dictators. In your own small way, speak out against injustice and oppression wherever you are in the world.
Let others know
Research the history and spread the word by telling others to share this article on social media.
5 Key Facts About Suriname
Suriname is located in northern South America and is slightly larger than the U.S. state of Georgia.
Suriname is the smallest sovereign state in all of South America.
Suriname has a population of approximately 575,000 people.
The currency of Suriname is the Surinamese dollar.
Suriname is a developing country, with an economy mainly dependent on its abundant natural resources.
Why Day of Liberation and Innovation is Important
It teaches history
National days like this are important to remind people of history and the consequences of past actions. As the saying goes, "those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Lessons are learned
Looking back on the past is a wise way to gain perspective and make better decisions for the future. The people of Suriname can consider past events and ensure that they bequeath a brighter and better future to future generations.
It's a day of remembrance
Lives were lost, and families were left bereaved by the December murders and other heinous crimes. This day is a day to remember and grieve with those who were left behind.
Day of Liberation and Innovation dates