Display of Khumaak Leads to Bloodshed
2004.03.04 | Svarthol
During the observation of a minor Minmatar holiday in the Republic Justice Law School station orbiting the second moon of Maturat IX, a ceremonial procession turned ugly, with a Khumaak at the center of yet another conflict. Bokm Wuk, a Brutor student studying at the law school, refused to hand over his Khumaak to security personnel. After repeated requests, Wuk brandished the Khumaak and was shot by one of the security personnel with what is commonly called a “lull gun.” Though usually non-lethal, the discharged round struck Wuk in the neck and has resulted in his hospitalization. He is expected to recover.
The student group which led the procession is calling for the resignation of the head of security for the Maturat IX 2 station, a demand officials there discredit as unreasonable and extreme. “The security officers involved were acting under orders to keep the peace. We have forty-seven thousand fulltime residents here. We are tasked with their safety, as well as with ensuring the continuing operation of all station facilities,” said Gusiko Or, a Republic Justice administrator stationed at Maturat IX 2. “We acknowledge the explosive nature of this issue, but we stand behind the actions of our security personnel.”
When asked to address complaints that the guard who fired the weapon was Sebiestor, Or, of Brutor heritage, dismissed the question. “In the performance of our duties to Republic Justice, we are all one tribe, one clan, and one family. Personal beliefs have no part in this.” After a long pause, he continued, “The beliefs of the security officers involved in this incident, though a private matter, would surprise many of their current critics.”
Unofficial sources are more candid. A member of the security detachment present at the scene of the incident, speaking under conditions of anonymity, said that even though the security forces at Maturat IX 2 are majority Sebiestor, many of them do not agree with the PM’s proposed ban of the Khumaak, and do not see it as a tribal issue. “I think the idea that this symbol belongs to one tribe—or even one gender—is ridiculous. The Khumaak is our common heritage. We don’t agree with the proposed ban, and we didn’t want to confront the students, but we have orders, and our first duty is to the Republic.”
Lull guns, used in riot control situations, deploy a semi-soft spongiform cylindrical projectile. Sealed pockets in the projectile contain various sedative or tranquilizing agents, designed to be released as an aerosol mist when the projectile hits its target. The guns are meant to be aimed low, at the ground beneath rioters or at their legs. When the projectile hit Wuk in the neck and throat, he suffered several broken vertebrae and a near-fatal overdose of the chemical agent used in the projectile.
The discharging of the weapon above waist height was probably a mistake, says Gusiko Or. “Of course we are still reviewing the incident, but all of our security officers are trained in the proper use of lull guns and other anti-riot equipment. Perhaps the officer, confronted with a very real physical threat, panicked and momentarily forgot his training. I am certain it was not an intentional misuse of the weapon.”
The holiday, an observance of the death anniversary of a legendary Minmatar scholar, is usually celebrated with a procession ending in the “chasing of the kirrik,” a ritualized game involving the rapid exchange of wooden carvings of a kirikk, a type of migratory songbird found in variation all over Matar. In legend, the scholar Emnet experienced several breakthrough discoveries shortly after chasing a small flock of the songbirds out of a tree near his study, where they proved a distraction with their constant chirping.
The holiday, usually a lighthearted occasion, is customarily celebrated by students and scholars, but the legend can also be interpreted as a sort of chasing away of lies or mistaken ideas (the kirikk is named for its call, which sounds similar to a Sebeistor word for “error” or “imperfection.”) During the continuing Khumaak controversy, many are finding a special resonance in this aspect of the holiday.