RICHARD Speed: The Grandman of the Saramakas is very much like a secret king in Africa, he has mystical powers, much of what he does is hemmed around by tremendous protocol, a protocol that would make the kind of protocol that you’re used to seeing like nothing at all. You can never direct, you don’t talk to the Grandman directly, if this woman here were the Grandman, I would speak to one of these people, and he would relay the message to the others, and so on. It’s a great deal of protocol. The Grandman does not come as a witness ever, when there is a meeting in Saramaka, the Grandman doesn’t come and sit down and give testimony, or listen, what he does, is he sends a delegate, and they do their meeting and then they report back to him.
RICHARD Price: You only have my sworn word, that I have spent 10 or 12 hours during the past 11 or 12 days discussing this case with him, in order to try to find out to the best of my ability what he and his people wish.
RICHARD Price: All of those things were mentioned by the Grandman as being very important to him. The fact that there had been to his knowledge, and to mine, no investigations at all, on the part of the Government, no punishments for the people who did this, is part of the violation and hurt and suffering felt by the Saramaka people, by the Grandman on behalf of his people.
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CLAUDIO GROSSMAN: Dr. Price allow me to move to something else. Under the facts of the case, and with your knowledge on the Saramaka culture, would be a finding of liability, and a cash award be sufficient to repair the damage caused, considering how Saramaka’s experienced these injuries, and considering how the Saramaka culture, as a matter of fact, experiences the concept of reparation?
RICHARD Rates: I would say that such a finding would be an important part of what the Saramakas would like to have happen, but it is also very important for them, they feel, in the long run, to try, in any way possible, to influence the national Government of the Republic of Suriname, to treat them with the respect due to all citizens of the country, and in that regard, some sort of public apology, and an investigation, a proper investigation, of why these people were killed, and how that came about, and followed by public apology, would be considered a very important gesture by them. Certainly, the material compensation is more important, but this would be a very important component, and they are certainly concerned about the way in which, not only they’ve been treated during these past few years, but what the future holds for them.
CLAUDIO GROSSMAN: Dr. Price, if a Saramaka family were awarded a sum in compensation for injuries it suffered, how would such a sum be distributed?
RICHARD Rate: The corporate unit that I mentioned before, which is called a bay, a matrilineal group, by traditional Saramaka law and custom, would sit down and have meetings, not just one, but several meetings over a number of days, and they would, in their wisdom, in their collective wisdom, distribute the sums to individuals according to the ways that they evaluate, that they evaluate the just distribution, the proper.