Punishment, Crime and the Innocent
Verifiable records, many kept by the Cardassians themselves, indicate that Cardassians directly caused the death of between 10 million and 15 million Bajorans during the 50-year Occupation period. Although it's impossible to break down exactly how and where each man, woman and child were killed, it's safe to say that a large percentage were incarcerated in slave labor and concentration camps when they were called to meet the Prophets.
"Bajorans Screaming for Mercy"
Of all the horrors reported by survivors of Cardassian camp system, none compare to the atrocities witnessed at the Gallitep forced-labor facility east of the Dahkur Hills.
"If you had seen the things I saw... all those Bajoran bodies... starved, brutalized," said Kira Nerys, a member of the Shakaar Resistance Cell. She and other freedom fighters liberated Gallitep in 2357, 12 years prior to the end of the Occupation.
"D'you know what Cardassian policy was?" she asked. "I don't mean just the murder. Murder was only the end of the fun for them. First came the humiliation... the rape of mothers in front of their children... Husbands beaten till their wives couldn't recognize them... Old people buried alive because they couldn't work anymore..."
To make matters worse, a mining accident caused many Gallitep prisoners to contract a unique disease known as Kalla-Nohra. The only benefit of the accident was that the camp's Cardassian overseers also came down with the illness. The camp's leader, Gul Darhe'el (a.k.a. "The Butcher of Gallitep") happened to avoid the disease by being on Cardassia at the time, where he was being awarded the Proficient Service Medallion.
At least one Cardassian posted at Gallitep, a file clerk named Aamin Marritza, was haunted by what he witnessed for years after the fact.
Marritza, who eventually went on to teach filing at a Cardassian military academy, said being so close to the scene of such terrors – combined with the frustration of being effectively powerless to change the events – often caused him to cower under his bunk and weep.
"Every night, ... so (I) wouldn't have to hear the Bajorans screaming for mercy while we killed them... covering my ears... so I wouldn't have to hear those terrible screams!" he said. "You don't know what it's like to be a coward. To stand by and let such horrors take place, and do nothing."
But few Cardassians shared Marritza's feelings. When Gul Darhe'el died in the Terran year 2363, he was buried under one of the largest military monuments on Cardassia during a ceremony attended by huge throngs of admirers. According to reports from Cardassian authorities, the Butcher of Gallitep died in his sleep as the result of a massive Coleibric hemorrhage.
After the camp's liberation, the survivors of Gallitep became a symbol of strength and courage to all Bajorans having to survive under Cardassian dominance.
Not only did the Bajorans incarcerated in Cardassian prison camps have to face the daily risk of disease, but sometimes the cure was far worse than the sickness.
Dr. Crell Moset, a Cardassian physician and expert in exobiology, became renown for having developed a cure for the deadly Fostossa virus, which swept across Bajor leaving thousands dead in its wake. Moset’s breakthrough, however, came from extensive experimentation on Bajoran prisoners. Many of his subjects suffered agonizing death or disfigurement as a result of the doctor’s work, which included exposing living patients to lethal nadion radiation. He also exposed prisoners to the poisonous and corrosive polytrinic acid to see how long it would take their skin to heal.
At the end of the Occupation, the Cardassians rewarded Moset for his work by allowing him to serve as Chairman of Exobiology at the University of Culat.
Another infamous Occupation virus was commonly known as Orkett’s disease, which swept through Bajoran work camps, killing thousands of Bajoran children.
Camps of Sorrow
Life as a laborer in the Cardassian-run mining camps was often unfortunately short. Instead of working to improve safety, Cardassian officials often casually referred to miner deaths as unavoidable "casualties."
Other camps weren’t much better. Typically, Singha and other refugee centers were crowded, chaotic and barely habitable. Tired, undernourished and sleep-deprived Bajoran families would huddle together while attempting to protect their meager belongings from other Bajorans who, driven to cruelty by the harsh conditions, would steal rations, clothing and other necessities from those too weak to defend themselves.
Faced with repeated cuts to food and other rations, even the youngest children would often have to scrounge for food to help meet their family’s needs.
"The Cardassians don't care whether we survive or not. They won't be happy until we're all dead," Resistance-fighter Kira Nerys recalled her mother saying while in the Singha internment camp. "I can't remember the last time I met a Bajoran that wasn't hungry."
Amidst the harsh conditions of life in the camps, the Cardassians did sometimes allow a few luxuries.
Nerys, who spent her childhood with her family at the camp, recalled that she and her brothers occasionally got the chance to play a few games of springball.
It was at that camp that Kira last saw her mother, Kira Meru. At the request of Cardassian officials on Terok Nor, she and several other women were forcibly taken away from their families to serve as "comfort women" on the ore-processing station in orbit around the planet. As reimbursement for the loss, the Nerys family was from then on given extra rations, a benefit that Nerys later said may have saved her and her brothers from dying of malnutrition.
Enclosed prisons also existed for temporary detention of Bajorans convicted of various crimes. One such facility on Bajor was the Elemspur Detention Center, which housed as many as four male and female inmates together in the same cells.
The Cardassian Withdrawal included an agreement to release all Bajoran political prisoners, per Supreme Directive 2645, and the Cardassians did liberate the Velos VII Internment Camp during their retreat.
Despite Cardassian promises, however, some prison camps secretly remained in operation off Bajor after the Withdrawal. About a year after Bajor was freed, Bajoran officials discovered that a large number of Bajorans, including the legendary Resistance fighter Li Nalas, were still being held as prisoners of war. Of particular importance was the discovery that Li, who had years earlier been reported as being killed in action, had in fact been taken as a prisoner first to Terok Nor, then moved to the Hutet labor camp on Cardassia IV.
No Bajorans realized the camp still existed until Borum, another Bajoran prisoner there, managed about a year after the Withdrawal to pass Li’s earring to a merchant, who smuggled it off the planet to Terok Nor, now renamed Deep Space Nine. It eventually made its way into the hands of Kira Nerys, who immediately recognized the significance of the find and mounted a successful rescue of the famous Bajoran hero.
As painful as the ordeal was for Li, it's said his presence through the years boosted the morale of his fellow prisoners and helped inspire them to not give up despite the odds.
The Cardassian View of Justice
Justice on Bajor during the Occupation was a luxury usually reserved only for Cardassians.
It was commonly understood by the planet’s natives that Cardassian authorities were not in the habit of looking for reasons to help their Bajoran subjects. Instead, the Cardassians normally sought reasons to interrogate Bajorans, an ordeal that to be avoided by any means possible.
"Now Cardassians know how to extract information. But it can get rather... unpleasant," once commented Gul S.G. Dukat, former prefect of the Occupation forces.
Often, it seemed that guilt and innocence really did not matter to Cardassian officials once they had a satisfactory suspect in custody.
In Cardassian society, the criminal justice system served to enforce cultural norms while reassuring the public with the comforting notion that good did triumph over evil. Accordingly, no criminal was brought to trial until authorities had already found the defendant guilty.
"On Cardassia, the verdict is always known before the trial begins. And it's always the same," Dukat said. "The people demand it. They enjoy watching justice triumph over evil – every time. They find it comforting."
Trials were broadcast for public viewing, serving as a dramatic demonstration of the futility of violating society’s norms. Under the Cardassian system of jurisprudence, a defendant could not present evidence until the trial was under way – which meant until after a verdict of guilty had already been rendered. Further, such defendants were required to testify against themselves.
These "trials" were governed by laws known as the "Cardassian Articles of Jurisprudence." Dealing with treatment and rights of prisoners, the articles include the following caution to be given to defendants: "You have the right to refuse to answer questions, but such refusal may be construed as a sign of guilt."
To aid in the administration of such acts of justice, Cardassian citizens were required to have one of their molars extracted at age 10 to be kept on file by the Cardassian Bureau of Identification.
Members of the Cardassian court included the archon, who served as the court’s presiding officer; the public conservator, whose function was to help the offender concede to the "wisdom" of the court by confessing his guilt and accepting the inevitable execution; and the nestor, who was expected to assist the offender during the court proceedings but was barred from addressing the court or its other officers.
Odo – An Oasis of Fairness
Not everyone connected to the Cardassian judicial system, however, was cruel or corrupt.
Odo, a changeling who served as constable on the Terok Nor orbiting ore refinery, was known to Bajorans and Cardassians alike for his unyielding sense of fairness and search for truth.
After the Occupation, his efforts were remembered well.
"Keeping order in the middle of the Occupation would be a tough job for anyone. But (Odo) not only did it, (he) did it by earning the trust of both sides," remarked the Emissary, Benjamin Sisko.
Odo’s actions were also heralded during Bajoran conference dedicated to examining the Occupation from dispassionate historical perspective.
"You may have worked for the Cardassians, but your only master was Justice," Odo was told by the moderator of the conference.
Odo, however, was more modest about his actions. "I have nothing to be proud of," he said after the conference. "I tried to bring order to a chaotic situation, that's all."
After the Occupation he admitted that fulfilling his duties was not easy, and working for justice meant walking a fine line between serving the self-centered goals of the Cardassians and trying to help the station's Bajoran residents however possible.
Although not Bajoran, Odo lived a tough life, with isolation and humiliation a common occurrence.
Odo was discovered in 2358 in the Denorios asteroid belt near Bajor. As an infant shapeshifter, Odo appeared to be only a shapeless mass of organic broth. It took years of study and work by a Bajoran, Dr. Mora Pol at the Bajoran Institute of Science, before Odo was able to first understand whom and what he was.
Although Odo maintained a humanoid form during interactions with other beings, he was never able to perfect the creation of a face, making it quickly apparent to anyone he met that he was an alien. That difference became even more pronounced every 16 hours when Odo had to rest by returning to his natural state, a viscous orange fluid.
Odo had no sense of smell and he did not need to eat, only maintaining an approximation of a nose, mouth and digestive system. Once, not long after he first assumed humanoid form, he reportedly tried eating, but he said he did not find it satisfying because he had no taste buds. Nevertheless, he could simulate the act of drinking by forming a part of his body into a drinking glass so that he could drink and reabsorb the liquid within, allowing himself to share the social experience of dining with others.
Odo got his name from the Cardassian word odo’ital, which was something of a cruel joke because it translates into "nothing."
Being the only one of his kind, Odo attempted to fit into society by being "the life of the party," where he would turn himself into any object requested. Eventually he stopped this practice after realizing it only increased his feelings of isolation and loneliness, the changeling once said.
In 2363, during a presentation for Cardassian officials at the Bajoran Center for Science, Odo was required to perform a "Cardassian neck trick" that reportedly "brought the house down" with amusement. Odo later said he was required to practice for weeks on the trick because Mora thought the officials "might find it entertaining."
"Gul Hadar couldn't stop talking about it," Dukat said. "He wanted to send (Odo) out to entertain the troops. I, on the other hand, began to wonder if (Odo) couldn't provide a more valuable service to the Cardassian Empire."
Although Odo said he regarded Mora as a father figure and even patterned his own hairstyle after his mentor, he resented the doctor’s cold scientific attitude and constant scrutiny. Two years later, Odo walked out on his Bajoran keepers.
"I simply felt I could learn more outside a laboratory," Odo explained.
Odo, however, did not realize that, despite Mora’s seemingly unfeeling treatment, the scientist apparently truly cared for his subject. During a reunion after the Withdrawal, Mora told Odo that much of his apparent cruelty was the result of ignorance about changling physiology.
A strong advocate of logic and fairness, Odo said he was deeply troubled by what he witnessed on his independent travels.
"There is very little justice in the Cardassian occupation of Bajor," he once said.
Nonetheless, he attempted to remedy that situation the best he could by acting as an impartial low-level arbitrator for Bajoran laborers, such as in petty disputes over food, blankets, and other everyday things.
By the Terran year 2365 Odo had migrated to Terok Nor, where his reputation brought him to the attention of Dukat, who wanted him to help find the murderer of a Bajoran chemist named Vaatrik. Odo’s assistance in the investigation possibly saved the lives of several innocent Bajorans.
"My superiors would have me ‘solve’ this murder by choosing ten Bajorans at random and executing them," Dukat reportedly told Odo.
The station’s previous promenade security chief, a Cardassian named Thrax, had recently become separated from the position. Although Odo was not able to solve the murder, Dukat was apparently impressed by his skills and appointed the changling to be Thrax’s replacement approximately four years before the end of the Occupation.
Odo continued to serve in this duty for several years after the station was turned over to Bajoran jurisprudence.
Odo, who was made an officer of the Cardassian court system in the Terran year 2366, usually proved to be a valuable friend for those seeking justice because he reportedly would never forget a case nor rest until a criminal was brought to light.
"Patience is a lost virtue to most," Odo once said. "To me, an ally."
Having a great respect for all lifeforms, however simple or evolved, Odo refused to carry a weapon as he went about his duties.
It was not until the year 2371 that Odo learned of his true origins – that he was one of 100 infant Founders cast into space by his species from a sunless Gamma-Quadrant planet. By the will of the Prophets, Odo traveled through the Celestial Temple to be eventually found and brought to Bajor.
Although Cardassian laws were complex and often unforgiving, Odo attempted to bring as much order and fairness as possible to those Bajorans forced to spend time in Terok Nor’s often overcrowded holding cells.
A typical day’s logs read aloud by Odo in the Terran year 2367 noted: "Kara Polus, Brin Tusk and Marat Kobar. Your sentence is five years, hard labor. Trial to confirm the sentence will take place at 1700 hours. Benten Vek – your fine has been paid and you'll be free to go within the hour. Lobo, Horis, Romara, Pelin and Gramm, you're being transferred to Cardassian authorities on Bajor for interrogation."
Even the Best Intentions …
Odo was not perfect, and several innocent Bajorans were executed under his watch only a few hours later.
Ishan Chaye was a 38-year-old electronics engineer with no criminal record who had previously lived with his family on Bajor. Jillur Gueta, a 55-year-old artist, had been arrested three times for disturbing the peace. Timor Landi was a 46-year-old bookkeeper with a wife and two sons. Residents of the Rakantha province, the three Bajoran were wrongly condemned after a failed assassination attempt against Dukat in 2367.
Although a long list of other people had tried to kill Dukat at one time or another, "these three were innocent," Odo later admitted. "However, no one knew that at the time and Dukat wanted to make an example of them. So they were led out onto the Promenade and publicly executed."
Odo’s incomplete investigation concluded that Timor, Ishan and Jillur came aboard the station two days before the assasination from the Rakantha Province, that they all visited the chemist shop the day before the crime, and that they then they all fell asleep on the Promenade. The next evening they were hired as a cleanup crew by Quark, and, after being paid, they together returned to the Bajoran sector where they allegedly attempted to murder Dukat with a chambered plasma grenade.
A major point of evidence against the three men was that epidermal scans revealed the presence of tri-nitrogen chloride, one of the components used in plasma grenades, on their hands and clothing. What Odo failed to consider was that tri-nitrogen chloride is also a cleaning solution, which was used by the three men while serving at the Ferengi bar.
Odo also concluded that the men were tied to the Bajoran underground because Jillur had three cousins who were known Resistance members and Chaye had five friends who were suspected Resistance sympathizers. After decades of Occupation, however, the simple fact was that few if any Bajorans could not be said to have some connection to the Resistance, if only through the activities of relatives, friends or distant acquaintances.
A thorough examination of the methods used in the assassination attempt would have revealed the fact that four similar bombings had recently occurred in the Musilla Province on Bajor, none of which could have been orchestrated by the three suspects. But unfortunately for the three doomed men, under Cardassian law the accused must prove their innocence, and the circumstantial evidence used by Odo to resolve the case was sufficient to warrant a conviction.
"This the price of taking up arms against those who would protect you, who have only your best interests at heart," Dukat was heard to say as the three Bajorans were lined up on one of the Promenade’s crossover "bridges," their backs against the railing and their hands bound.
Odo, dressed in the dark gray attire of a Cardassian investigator, stood by the balcony near the prisoners while Dukat looked toward the guards, from whose ranks a soldier stepped forward with military precision. Without hesitation, the soldier fatally shot Timor, then Ishan, then Jillur in the chest while the constable, who had originally turned the men over to Dukat, watched the unfolding scene with an air of distaste and detachment.
Three days after the executions, there was another bombing on the station’s promenade identical to the one that almost killed Dukat. It was then, Odo later admitted, he finally realized that in his haste he had caused three innocent men to die.
Again, it should be strongly noted that such miscarriages of justice were extremely rare under Odo’s jurisdiction. The details of the incident, however, were presented here in detail to paint a contrast illustrating that, during the Occupation, even those with the best intentions were liable to make mistakes, and those mistakes sometimes led to tragic repercussions.
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