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3. Dez 2017

The rage of the desperate

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Deux persons beheaded following the application of ‘free’ dina

If persons are driven into a corner, their despair might quite probably result into surprise-attack. Such image could explain some aspect of that kind of violence which one can observe again and again in the Malagasy ‘bush’, the more rural regions far away of the capital town of Antananarivo.

One of the latest examples happened on Saturday, 18 November 2017, in the Analalava-district on the north-western coast of the island.  About a hundred individuals, a joint force of several neighboring villages, “besieged”, as the journalist of the Express daily writes, the fokontany (the smallest Malagasy administrative level, a municipality) of Maevarivotra, in the search of three suspected criminals. Once they caught two of them early in the morning, a “father of a family and his brother-in-law”, they conducted them about 250 meters away from the village and decapitated them, “one by another”. The villagers of Maevarivotra were panicked by the execution. The reinforced Gendarmerie forces are investigating the case and are trying to pacify the villages concerned.

While the article rather blames the application of a ‘free’ dina-law (village conventions, popular law), still not adapted or made homologous to the state law by the local court, the real problem seems to be elsewhere: many villagers simply do not believe (anymore) in the capacity of the state to produce order, to figure out the guilty and, most important, to punish them. Instead they more often than not insist on their observations that bandits can buy them simply out by money.

The ongoing debate on the village conventions (dina) is therefore rather illusory. Deputies and state functionaries are concentration them on the examination of ‘free’ dina-conventions concerning their accordance with exiting law. In this way they would try to exempt the existing dina from the blame of imbalance and arbitrariness. While trough that effort a formally an irreproachably dina is developing, the main problem remains untouched:  that the villagers feel left alone and are driven into the corner by all kind of bandits, leaving them, in their perspective, no other option than to strike back by utter force.

L’Express (21.11.2017)

Über Peter Friedrich Alfons Kneitz

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