We recently came across an article wherein Yvanna Hilton had won a court case that she had filed against the Republic of Suriname allowing for her to change her sex registration from ‘male’ to ‘female’. Yvanna is a transgender transsexual woman. After reading the verdict we decided to travel to Paramaribo. During our visit we meet with a number of different LGBT organizations, a cultural anthropologist, a Winti priest, Yvanna’s lawyer, the Dutch embassy and Suriname’s Minister of Justice van Dijk- Silos.
While we were in Paramaribo Yvanna received a death threat via Facebook. In a post made by an unidentified person you can read that they are going to ‘shoot a bullet’ through Yvanna’s head and make the lives of ‘LGBT beasts’ a living hell. We showed Surinamese Minister of Justice van Dijk- Silos screenshots of the threat and asked her if Yvanna could file a police report. A day after the interview we were asked if we could come by the police station and give a statement on how we obtained the screenshots. Yvanna was also asked to come and file a police a report.
After filing a police report on Sunday, Yvanna was invited by police to come back on Monday. Prior to entering the police station she was required to leave her ID with the receptionist. During this time Yvanna believes a unidentified individual took a picture of her ID and uploaded it onto Facebook. We have found two posts of her ID circulating on Facebook that read:”I found this ID card does someone know this man?” and “Hmmmm you win the case but a M stays a M.”. Both posts have been deleted. Yvanna says that there are 7 to 8 different versions of her ID circulating on Facebook where individuals have altered her photo or her birth date.
What we know now is that threats were made and that an investigation will still have to determine who was behind these threats. The same thing can be said concerning the individuals who are uploading different versions of Yvanna’s ID. The ministry of justice has said that if it is determined that any of the involved parties are members of the police corps disciplinary measures will be taken.
In an earlier post we published the names of two individuals, that we stated were members of the Suriname’s Police Corps. It has come to our attention that we have wrongfully associated them with being responsible for making threats and uploading Yvanna’s ID card. We weren’t able to provide the public with sufficient evidence to support the claims that they were responsible for the threats or the uploading of Yvanna’s ID. We understand that this explanation doesn’t change the fact that we have already caused a lot of damage in these individuals private lives. We realize that the decision to publish the names was wrong and impulsive due to the fact that there is still an ongoing investigation.
Kevin P. Roberson takes full responsibility for the publication of the names and has also sent his new findings to the office of the Minister of Justice Jennifer van Dijk -Silos. After comparing profile photos from the account that posted the death threat on Yvanna’s wall, with the Facebook profile photo of the person that we named, we noticed a clear difference. The fact that we didn’t see this prior to publishing the names means that we did poor work as journalists. The thought behind showing this video fragment of minister van Dijk-Silos was so that people could see that Suriname is governed by rule of law. In the West, specifically the Netherlands, there is this image of Suriname that it’s people can’t govern themselves, have no freedom of speech and are oppressed by the state.