Reasons Behind the Occupation
2309 - Offering technological assistance, Cardassians met by Bajorans with open arms.
2318 - The first Cardassian Occupation troops land on Bajoran soil.
2328 - Cardassia formally annexes Bajor.
2340s - Cardassian expansion leads to bloody border war with United Federation of planets.
2366 - Cardassian and Federation officials ratify armistice agreements.
2367 - Formal peace treaty between Cardassia and the Federation.
2367 - Cardassian and Bajoran officials begin armistice discussions.
2369 - Withdrawal of Cardassian forces from Bajor after armistice approval.
2371 - Formal peace treaty between Cardassia and Bajor.
When examining the beginnings of the Occupation, it's easy to criticize the Bajoran government and accuse the planet's leaders of giving in too easily to the Occupation force.
As unlikely as it may seem today, however, Bajorans and Cardassians were not always enemies. Possibly the primary sin of the Bajor's people was naiveté - by assuming that the relationship between the two planets would never change for the worse.
The area in and around the Denorios Belt in the Bajoran system is characterized by unusually severe neutrino disturbances and tachyon eddies, which are believed to have propelled ancient Bajoran solar-sail vessels across interstellar distances at warp speeds.
Also known as lightships, these vessels were originally designed to be propelled by light pressure from Bajor's sun. With no impulse reaction or warp-propulsion system, these beautiful craft used enormous reflective sails to catch the tenuous solar wind. Crew accommodations were minimal in order to conserve mass.
For those early astronauts, the beautiful view from space of Bajor's green oceans as the planet slowly turned to complete its 26-hour days must have been seen as nothing less than a mighty and holy gift from the Prophets themselves. With the power to chart the heavens, these space explorers soon made their way to their planet's five natural satellites, eventually establishing a colony on the most distant moon, a class-M planetoid named Jeraddo.
Making their way out to the rest of the Bajor-B'hava'el star system, explorers were able to take closer looks at the 13 other planets, which included seven Class-M worlds, three gas giants and three ice/rock conglomerates. Eventually, these explorations led to colonists establishing six colonies and a new home for thousands of settlers on Andros, the two-mooned planet also known as Bajor VIII.
Lightships remained the main means for exploring the Bajor system until about eight centuries ago. Even after impulse ships were devised by Bajoran scientists, many lightships remained in use - similar to the way that naval sailboats are used to this day by people who love the adventure of a journey propelled only by the power of nature. It is documented that Akorem Laan, the well-known Bajoran poet, enjoyed travelling in a 100-year-old lightship as late as the Terran year 2172. Other aged lightships may still exist today or may have been used by Resistance fighters for low-energy travel.
Using their lightships, ancient Bajorans eventually encountered the belt's tachyon eddies, possibly by accident. The current carried some of these ships to Cardassia, where the travellers attempted to establish friendly relations with its humanoid residents.
During recent years, Cardassian scholars scoffed at the suggestion that Bajorans could have crossed interstellar space so long ago. That changed, however, in the Terran year 2371, when Cardassian archaeologists reported finding ancient wreckage of such a ship on Cardassian soil.
Fall From Grace
An understanding of what went wrong with the neighborly relationship between Bajor and Cardassia requires an understanding of both how Cardassia is today and how it was centuries ago, before the first Occupation troops entered orbit in the Bajor-Bahala star system.
It's common knowledge among archaeologists throughout the Alpha Quadrant that Cardassia boasts some of the most ancient and splendid ruins in the galaxy. The burial vaults of the First Hebitian civilization, precursors to the existing Cardassian society, are reported to be magnificent.
At least, they were when they were first unearthed about 200 years ago.
Originally, the burial vaults contained unimaginably beautiful artifacts made of jevonite - a rare, breathtaking stone.
Today, however, most of those objects are gone, noted Gul Madred during a discussion with noted archeologist and Starfleet Capt. Jean-Luc Picard a few months after the Withdrawal.
What happened to these historical treasures?
"What happens to impoverished societies," Madred explained with a shrug and slight smile. "The tombs were plundered, priceless treasures stolen. A few were preserved in museums, but even those were eventually sold in order to pay for our war efforts."
Even though they've been stripped of funerary regalia, the tomb paintings are extraordinary, Madred added. "Any student of archaeology would be thrilled."
It may seem amazing today, but centuries ago Cardassia was inhabited by a peaceful people with a rich spiritual life, Picard said.
"And what did peace and spirituality get us?" Madred responded. "People starved by the millions. Bodies went unburied. Disease was rampant. The suffering was unimaginable."
Cardassian was still in the depths of a wide-scale depression a few decades before the conquest of Bajor. Madred claimed to have experienced that suffering firsthand as a child.
"I remember the first time I ate live taspar," the Gul said, referring to a wild animal sometimes found in Cardassian urban districts. "I was four years old and living on the streets of Lakat. There was a band of children, four, five, six years old, some even smaller, desperately trying to survive. We were thin, scrawny little animals, constantly hungry, always cold. We slept together in doorways, like packs of wild gettles, for warmth.
"Once I found a nest - taspars had mated and built a nest in the eave of a burnt-out building - and I found three eggs in it. It was like finding treasure."
It should be noted here that anyone cracking open a taspar egg would find inside a pulsating gelatinous blob, possibly containing large, fully formed eyes or other features.
"Most people become ill at the sight of live taspar," Madred said. "I cracked one open on the spot and ate it. I planned to save the other two - they would keep me alive for another week, but of course an older boy saw them and wanted them. He had to break my arm, but he got the eggs.
"I had no pleasant refuge in my mind, gentle memories of family gatherings."
After taking over the planet's government, the Cardassian military worked to make sure their efforts were respected by future generations. From the youngest of age, Cardassian children were taught that it was their manifest right to lord over other races.
"From the time Jil Orra could crawl," Madred said, referring to his daughter, "she has been taught about the enemies of the Cardassians. And that enemies deserve their fate."
The military, known as the Central Command, and the secret intelligence-gathering and espionage service, known as the Obsidian Order, seemed to be the only aspects of Cardassian society that always remained well-outfitted and well-fed.
"It is the military which is the hope of the population," Madred said.
The Federation would have been happy to help feed Cardassia's people through a cooperative effort without the need for warfare, Picard said.
Madred, however, disapprovingly considered such offerings to be charity. Such self-defeating pride apparently permeated throughout Cardassia's ruling structure, keeping any such joint efforts from ever materializing.
Reportedly, in the decades since the military assumed universal power, hundreds of thousands more Cardassian citizens have died attempting to further the planet's aggressive causes.
"But we are feeding the people," Madred said. "We acquired territory during the wars. We developed new resources. We initiated a rebuilding program. We have mandated agricultural programs. That is what the military has done for Cardassia.
"Because of that, my daughter will never have to worry about going hungry."
Such arguments, often made today by Cardassian apologists, never take into account the incredible suffering and damage done to the inhabitants of one of these "territories," such as Bajor. Nor do they account for the hardships inflicted upon the previous owners of the "resources" acquired by the conquering forces during their lengthy efforts to expand their power base.
Betrayal of Trust
In the Terran year 2309, the technologically advanced but resource-poor Cardassians offered assistance and trade to the Bajorans. Initially they were welcomed, but the Cardassian presence became increasingly oppressive, with the first of the Occupation troops arriving about a decade later.
Bajor was claimed as Cardassian territory with formal annexation in 2328. The Withdrawal occurred in 2369, after about a half century of terror to the planet as a whole.
In an analysis compiled for Starfleet's Deep Space Nine technical manual, Cardassia had no legitimate reason to conquer and plunder the Bajoran system.
"Planetology specialists have determined that Bajor and Cardassia do possess similar abundances of crustal resources," the authors concluded. "Cardassian near-subsurface access to the materials they require for their present level of civilization, however, is more limited than that of their Bajoran counterparts. During the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, vast supplies of uridium ore were found to be easily tapped, and the costs of building and operating a mining station were well below a comparable mining effort on Cardassia itself, and so Terok Nor was created.
"The resources necessary for Cardassia are keyed directly to the level of technological development the world government and its military deems acceptable. Cardassia Prime and its associated systems long ago exceeded the technology level for a comfortable standards of life for all their citizens at roughly the same time they achieved warp travel, a critical milestone seen by nearly 87.9 percent of deep-spacefaring cultures. The basic humanoid affinity for acquisition, warfare and conquest by these same cultures is well understood and need not be elaborated upon here, though it is a reality in the galactic environment that must be dealt with. Despite the claims that Cardassia - or any warp-capable race - is poor in resources, the fact remains that the achievement of warp flight and related technologies, most importantly replicator devices, virtually ensures that with the proper administration their race will flourish."
Cardassian officials have not been entirely forthcoming with their records regarding motives and details of conquests during the years immediately after the military took control of the Cardassian government. It is widely assumed, however, that the primary reason Cardassian officials desired Bajor was so they could exploit the planet's rich resources.
Some people speculate that the main reason Cardassia did not wipe out Bajor's entire population was because the native Bajorans provided a renewable supply of slave laborers - available in vast numbers to work the numerous mines and factories that soon covered their planet, polluting its environment with toxic chemicals.
The decades-long Federation-Cardassia war, which began within a few years of the annexation of Bajor, came at a high price, Picard said. The extended military struggle cost the Cardassians hundreds of thousands of lives, depleted the planet's food supplies, and left its population weakened and miserable, he said.
Bajor clearly served Cardassian needs by providing a critical supply of metals and minerals needed to maintain the war effort. This is considered by many historians to be the main reason Cardassia held so tightly to Bajor for so many years, despite widespread rebellion by the planet's natives and attack after attack by a skilled guerilla army of Resistance fighters.
Cardassian officials, embarrassed about the Bajor situation, have provided a variety of reasons for their eventual retreat out of the Bajor system. Many Cardassians claim that the decision to withdraw was made by the Cardassian civilian leaders; most of Bajor's mineral wealth had already been depleted, and the Federation, with whom the Cardassians had just negotiated a peace treaty, put them under increasing diplomatic pressure.
It seems too much of a coincidence, however, that the Cardassian military decided to vacate their hold on Bajor less than three years after signing an armistice with the Federation. When all the evidence is considered together, it seems clear that the cessation of the "Border Wars" was pivotal in the Cardassian decision to leave Bajor.
Within months of signing an official truce with the United Federation of Planets, the Cardassian government sent envoys to begin armistice talks with Bajoran officials. Negotiations, which lasted two years, started with such topics as the fate of Cardassian property on Bajor and ended with the retreat of Cardassian forces in 2369.
Without the extensive drain of the war effort, the costs of maintaining a presence on Bajor probably became far more trouble than they were worth - which had been the goal of the Resistance all along.
Chances are great that, without the decades of selfless dedication and loss of life by the members of the Bajoran Resistance as they ceaselessly attacked Occupation troops and supply lines, the Cardassian government would probably have had no reason to give up Bajor. At best the planet might have been traded or sold to another galactic power or used as a bargaining chip during political negotiations. It is just as possible that Cardassian would never have left the planet at all and might have even have begun an influx of colonization - potentially proceeded by a major genocidal effort against the now unnecessary native workforce.
The colonization scenario seems starkly plausible based on the fact that Madred said the Federation-Cardassian war kept Cardassia in pitiable shape and left its citizens struggling to regain a vestige of their former lifestyle.
"Our planet is a hardscrabble world," the gul noted only a few months after the Bajoran Withdrawal. "Famine is still a threat. It's not so easy for us."
Not every Cardassian believed their people's actions were ethical, justified or good for their society.
One such Cardassian was Natima Lang, a professor of political ethics, political dissident and former correspondent for the Cardassian Information Service.
It was not unusual for Lang, a vocal opponent of the Bajoran Occupation, to step outside the box of Cardassian society when it suited her fancy. While serving on Terok Nor in 2363, Lang became romantically involved with a Ferengi bar owner named Quark. Their relationship, which began when Lang learned that Quark had been selling food to the Bajorans, ended a month later when she discovered that the Ferengi had been using her personal access code to steal money from the Communications Service.
Lang subsequently left Terok Nor and began service as a teacher. During this time, her unorthodox views brought her into contact with the Cardassian Underground Movement, in which she became an active member.
"There are some who believe the future of Cardassia shouldn't remain in the hands of the military," Lang said.
"To put it simply, not everyone inside the Cardassian Empire is satisfied with the way the Central Command governs," said Rekelen, one of Lang's students.
The Cardassian Central Command, in control of the Cardassian military, effectively served as the planet's true government. Traditionally, both the Central Command and the Obsidian Order had been under the direct control of the Detapa Council, which was established on the planet about five centuries ago. In practice, however, the military and intelligence organizations both operated with virtual autonomy. Nonetheless, the Central Command was often at odds with the Obsidian Order concerning a variety of issues, including how to handle the growing problem of the Bajoran Resistance.
The Cardassian underground movement's main purpose was to oppose the military dominance of their planet's government. The Central Command apparently regarded members of the Cardassian underground as a potential threat to their power structure and sought to silence them through any means necessary, including murder.
Rekelen and Hogue, another of Lang's students, together would become two of the most important leaders of the Cardassian Underground movement. Lang considered her students to be extremely vital to the cause -- enough that Central Command wanted them and her dead.
"The military's afraid to let us speak our minds," Hogue said.
"We only want a better future for all Cardassians - a future based on peace and non-violence," Lang explained. "But if we achieve peace, true peace, both inside and outside our borders, the military will no longer be able to justify their control of the Empire."
Despite her precarious situation, Lang was loathe to ask for assistance even after the Withdrawal, when both the Bajoran and Federation governments could have provided critical support.
"Cardassians don't involve outsiders in their internal politics. Especially Bajorans," Lang said after an attempt on her life approximately two years after the Withdrawal. "We take our politics very seriously."
Through the efforts of Lang and other prominent Cardassians, including Legate Tekeny Ghemor of the Central Command, the Cardassian Underground Movement continued for years after the Cardassian withdrawal from Bajor.
As a young man, Ghemor volunteered for duty on Bajor, a decision he said he later came to regret. During his first year of service, the 19-year-old Ghemor joined 400 other soldiers in the infamous attack on the Kiessa Monastery. By the time the slaughter was over, the Cardassian army had massacred 17 monks and burned Kiessa to the ground.
"They were hiding weapons for the Resistance. Weapons that were being used to kill my friends," Ghemor told Kira Nerys, a former member of the Bajoran Underground, several years after the Withdrawal. "It was war. It was easy to despise you."
But Ghemor later felt remorse for his actions, he said.
"You weren't the monsters. We were," he told Kira. "I wish I had never joined the military, never volunteered for duty on Bajor. But I did. And I can't change that, no matter how much I might want to."
The Occupation also led to the disappearance, and apparent death, of Ghemor's daughter Iliana, who had been working as a spy for the Obsidian Order.
Being an activist had its risks, even for a Cardassian.
In the Terran year 2371, Lang learned she was marked for death, which led her to flee her home planet with two students, Rekelen and Hogue, who were also targeted for execution because of their dedication to the Cardassian underground.
That same year, the Obsidian Order tricked Ghemor into revealing his connections with the Underground through an elaborate plot. Kira was kidnapped from Deep Space Nine and surgically modified to resemble Ghemor's daughter, then she was presented to the legate with the claim that her memories had been "modified" to make her believe she had been a Bajoran Resistance fighter. Ghemor, believing Kira to be his daughter despite her assertions to the contrary, confided in her the existence of the Cardassian Underground - which was overheard by recording devices planted in his home. He and Kira escaped capture by the Obsidian Order, but only through the help of a team of Federation officers who had been searching for the Bajoran's whereabouts.
Some Cardassians never did come to terms with what their people did to Bajor.
Aamin Marritza, a Cardassian who served as a file clerk at the Gallitep labor camp, was plagued with memories of the horrors he experienced there. Although he would cringe in mental agony under his bed at night, he said he did not say or do anything directly to attempt to stop the massacres.
To atone for his lack of action, Marritza had his face surgically altered to resemble Gul Darhe'el, the camp's cruel Cardassian overseer. Marritza then allowed his false identity to be "accidentally" revealed while visiting the Bajoran-controlled Deep Space Nine station in 2369, less than a year after the Withdrawal. During questioning, he claimed to be Darhe'el in the hopes that the Bajoran government would execute him - both providing satisfaction to a war-torn world and giving Marritza release from his pangs of guilt.
Kira Nerys, in charge of Marritza's interrogation, discovered his ruse and released him before he could go to trial. While walking away from the cell, however, a Bajoran assassinated Marritza - not because he looked like Darhe'el, but simply because he was a Cardassian.
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