The Occupation of Bajor (usually referred to simply as the Occupation) was a period from 2328 to 2369 during which Bajor was under the control of the Cardassian Empire. During the Occupation, the Cardassians perpetrated a coordinated scheme of strip-mining, forced labor, and genocide across the planet. Their brutality led to the deaths of tens of millions of innocent Bajorans, although the exact number of casualties is unknown. This eventually gave rise to the fierce Bajoran Resistance, which used guerilla and terror tactics to force the Cardassians to withdraw.
Prior to the Occupation, the Bajorans were a peaceful people whose art and architecture were well-known and admired throughout the galaxy. The Cardassians, by contrast, were a militaristic and often hostile people who had conquered numerous planets in the name of survival. The two peoples nonetheless managed to coexist peacefully for some time; however, the Cardassians coveted Bajor's rich natural resources and saw the Bajoran people as inferior. Cardassia became increasingly hostile as time went on, maintaining a military presence on the planet for ten years before forcibly annexing it in 2328. This travesty caused little galactic outcry, as most major powers were unaware of or unconcerned with Bajor's plight. (TNG: "Ensign Ro"; DS9: "Emissary", "The Circle")
As the Cardassians were technologically almost a century ahead of the Bajorans, there was no warfare leading to the Occupation; the peaceful Bajoran people surrendered with little resistance. The Cardassians installed the Bajoran Occupational Government, essentially a puppet of the Cardassian Central Command intended to make the occupation look legitimate. In order to keep the Bajorans in line, Central Command also installed a prefect to oversee the planet. The last person to hold this post was the now-infamous Gul Dukat. (DS9: "Waltz", "Duet", "The Collaborator")
- The exact start of the Occupation is unclear, but the general consensus is that it began circa 2319 and ended in 2369. See below for more information.
- In "Cardassians", Dr. Bashir and Garak search a databank on Bajor for files related to the Occupation and Bashir observes how quickly Garak is able to find "80-year-old files". Garak later claims the Cardassians "taught" Bajor how to keep such meticulously precise records, which might suggest there was a Cardassian presence on the planet for at least thirty years prior to the Occupation's formal start.
When the Occupation began, it was the end of life as the Bajoran people formerly knew it. The Cardassians outlawed the d'jarra caste system, which had been an integral part of Bajoran culture for centuries. (DS9: "Accession") Vedeks were forbidden to preach the word of the Bajoran Prophets, and many such as Winn Adami were imprisoned for doing so. ("Rapture") Further, the Cardassians strip-mined the planet, using Bajoran slave labor to perform the task. Secretary Kubus Oak and other officials of the occupational government routinely approved work orders forcing Bajorans to mine ore among other tasks. Such acts of cowardice gave way to a new term for those who participated with the Cardassians or used the Occupation as a source of profit: "collaborators." ("The Collaborator")
Not all Bajorans who profited from the Occupation were branded as collaborators, however. A smuggler named Ibudan was admired for smuggling much-needed medical supplies to Bajor, although he did so only to gouge his fellow Bajorans. Ibudan even let a young girl die because her family could not afford the drug that would have saved her life. Bajorans such as Ibudan were able to operate with relative freedom in many cases, as most Cardassian officers would look the other way if paid enough. (DS9: "A Man Alone", "Things Past") After the Occupation, most Bajoran smugglers such as Razka Karn were reduced to buying and selling scrap metal. (DS9: "Indiscretion")
Part of the boom in black market dealings resulted from most external entities' refusal to sell to the Bajorans out of fear of Cardassian reprisal and a general belief that the Bajoran Resistance would fail. This was partially offset by the Ferengi bartender Quark and his willingness to sell items to the Bajorans at or just above cost, despite that doing so went against Ferengi values. (DS9: "Body Parts") Another notable exception to the rule was the weapons dealer Hagath and his associate, Quark's cousin Gaila. Hagath believed that the "big picture" of the situation – and having the future Bajoran government owe him a favor – was more important in the long run than which side had the bigger pocketbook. While he charged full price for his goods, Hagath's willingness to sell weapons to the Bajorans was reason enough for them to be grateful. (DS9: "Business as Usual")
When a Bajoran was accused of a crime, his or her friends and family were often rounded up for questioning as well. In many cases, ensuring someone was punished was more important than finding the perpetrator of the crime. The Cardassians also used Bajoran women as "comfort women." (DS9: "Things Past", "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night")
Bajorans were assigned occupations more or less arbitrarily during the Occupation. The most common jobs were mining ore and working in factories, and once assigned to a job, a Bajoran was forbidden from leaving it. However, Cardassian officers often "selected" Bajorans for random interrogations or forced relocation.
Any Bajoran with family or friends in the Bajoran Resistance was considered a suspect in criminal cases – which after 40 years of occupation was essentially all of Bajor. There was virtually no court system, only special tribunals consisting of Cardassian military leaders. In the vast majority of cases, the evidence was circumstantial and questionable. This was of little importance to the Cardassians as long as someone was punished. ("Things Past")
The Cardassians interned entire families of Bajorans in labor camps for various purposes, the most common of which was to mine ore and other valuable resources. Conditions at these camps were so harsh that every Bajoran knew assignment to a labor camp was essentially a death sentence. The occupational government, however, continued to fulfill the Cardassians' requests for new laborers throughout the occupation. ("The Collaborator")
The most notorious of these camps was the Gallitep labor camp, where Gul Darhe'el ruled with an iron fist and routinely ordered his men to kill the laborers. Believing that their actions were justified in the name of the greater glory of Cardassia, men such as Darhe'el were responsible for turning the occupation into full-blown genocide. ("Duet")
Justification based on the "greater glory of Cardassia" also led to workers at the labor camps often becoming subjects of morally unethical experimentation, as in the case of Dr. Crell Moset. Moset was a celebrated scientist who discovered a cure for the Fontossa virus; however, unbeknownst to most non-Bajorans, Moset found the cure by infecting hundreds of people so that he could experiment with different treatments. According to Starfleet records, Moset purchased many biochemical agents, including every known strain of the Fostossa virus, a typical procedure in the development of vaccines; however, he didn't ask for any of the enzymes normally required for synthesizing a vaccine. Four days after he received the virus samples there was a minor outbreak of Fostossa near his hospital. Prior to that date there had not been a single case in the entire province. (VOY: "Nothing Human")
In 2346, the Cardassians used Bajoran slave labor to build an orbital space station known as Terok Nor, which was virtually identical to many other Cardassian outposts. (DS9: "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night") Much of this station was devoted to processing ore, which was the task to which most Bajorans there were assigned. Temperatures in the ore processing section sometimes reached as high as 55°C, and in addition to exhaustion, heatstroke became a common cause of death. ("Civil Defense") Deaths from such causes were merely casualties in the eyes of the Cardassian overseers. ("Necessary Evil")
Certain areas of Terok Nor were cordoned off and designated Bajoran areas. Most Bajorans were forced to live in overcrowded community quarters, but some of the more fortunate (mostly collaborators) were assigned their own. Even the holding cells were overcrowded, with as many as a dozen Bajorans filling cells built for two. A few Bajorans were allowed to earn a meager wage working for Quark, in his bar. Many of these were women who won their jobs by showing Quark their "credentials." Those Bajorans in his employ had twelve-hour workdays with two five-minute breaks, for which they earned a single strip of latinum. ("Necessary Evil", "Things Past")
- Main article: Bajoran Resistance
After years of Cardassian oppression, the Bajorans formed the Bajoran Resistance, a coordinated movement aiming to free Bajor from the occupation. It accomplished this goal with often indiscriminant bombings and other terror tactics. The most prominent resistance cell was the Shakaar Resistance Cell, of which Kira Nerys was a member from the time she was seven. ("Duet")
The Resistance also fought a limited guerilla war, although they mostly relied on the element of surprise. Some members managed to smuggle in sub-impulse starships, but as they knew direct conflict with the Cardassians would end disastrously, these ships were hidden on Bajor's various moons. The assassinations and bombings were enough to throw the Cardassians off balance, however, and also taught the Bajorans valuable skills they would later put to use when forming the Bajoran Militia. ("The Siege")
Bajorans who helped the resistance but did not openly oppose the Cardassians were known as informers. One such informer was Trentin Fala. Fala and others like her were regarded with great respect, unlike collaborators. ("The Darkness and the Light")
Every time the Resistance executed an attack, the Cardassians tightened their grip, and each time this happened, more Bajorans joined the cause. It would take many years and many deaths, but eventually the Cardassians would be forced to leave Bajor.
- Main article: Dukat
S.G. Dukat, better known as the man who allied Cardassia with the Dominion, was the prefect of Bajor from around 2359 until the Cardassians withdrew in 2369. Dukat ruled with an iron fist but saw himself as merciful compared to his fellow Cardassians. When a Bajoran was murdered aboard Terok Nor, Dukat chose to hire a Changeling named Odo as an impartial investigator rather than his superiors' prescription of executing ten Bajorans at random. ("The Maquis, Part II", "Necessary Evil")
He also had an affinity for Bajoran women, and although he was part of the occupation, he saw himself as a friend of the Bajoran people. Dukat fell in love with a Bajoran woman named Tora Naprem and even had a daughter by her, although both were lost in a shuttle crash; later, he had another affair with a comfort woman named Kira Meru. Both relationships started out as forced, but Dukat convinced himself that he truly loved both women (although, according to one of Dukat's officers, the prefect had used the same routine on several women). ("Indiscretion", "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night").
By the time Dukat was appointed as prefect of the planet, the occupation had become something of a quagmire for Central Command. Despite his best efforts to keep the Bajorans in line, the situation was beyond his control; against his wishes, the government decided to withdraw from the planet.
After fifty years of occupation, the Cardassians withdrew from Bajor, but only under political pressure from the United Federation of Planets and other entities. However, the exact cause of the withdrawal is largely a matter of opinion; while the Bajorans attributed it to the efforts of the Bajoran Resistance, the Cardassians regarded it as an entirely political decision. ("Duet") Regardless of the cause, all sides acknowledge that civilian leaders such as those on the Detapa Council made the decision, which was opposed by the Cardassian military. Gul Dukat in particular remained intent on reconquering Bajor for over five years. ("Cardassians", "Call to Arms").
Other Cardassian leaders were not willing to wait for revenge. Gul Darhe'el, furious about the withdrawal, ordered his soldiers to slaughter their Bajoran subordinates. His intention was to kill every last Bajoran at Gallitep, and while his actions were the exception rather than the rule, many Cardassian officers shared his sentiments. ("Duet")
On Terok Nor, the Cardassians damaged as many of the space station's systems as they possibly could. They took every item of value, including all but a few photon torpedoes. The Bajoran Temple was badly damaged, as was the Promenade, where four Bajorans were killed trying to protect their shops. The Cardassians even removed the beds from the quarters and took the replicators offline. Much of the looting was out of hatred toward the Bajorans, although it was standard Cardassian procedure to booby trap and sabotage abandoned outposts. ("Emissary")
Many Cardassian children were left behind in the wake of the Occupation, since orphans had no status in Cardassian society. The Bajorans opened their hearts to these so-called war orphans, one of whom was named Rugal. The son of a prominent Cardassian politician, Rugal was left on Bajor in an elaborate plot by Gul Dukat to seize power. He was raised by an elderly Bajoran couple and taught to hate Cardassian "butchers", although he was later returned to his father's custody. ("Cardassians")
Of particular note was the fact that the tailor Elim Garak became the sole Cardassian aboard Deep Space 9. Neither the Federation nor the Bajorans knew Garak's true motives for staying behind. While it was widely held that he was "the eyes and ears of his fellow Cardassians", Garak always managed to avoid questions about his past with his charming personality. He soon proved that there was more to "plain, simple Garak" than met the eye. ("Past Prologue") It was later revealed that Garak had once been an agent of the Obsidian Order stationed aboard Terok Nor but was falsely accused of treason and sentenced to live out the rest of his life aboard what became Deep Space 9. ("The Wire", "Civil Defense")
Bajor was in shambles after the Cardassian withdrawal and did not recover for many years. One of the first steps was the formation of the Bajoran Provisional Government, which was unstable at best. One of the few things virtually all Bajorans agreed upon was how to deal with those involved with the Occupation. A list of the most egregious Cardassian war criminals was assembled and the individuals on the list were condemned to death, although in practice most were never apprehended. ("Duet") Additionally, a list of collaborators was issued in the Ilvian Proclamation, all of whom were sentenced to exile. Those collaborators who escaped detection spent the rest of their lives trying to ensure that their misdeeds remained secret. ("The Collaborator")
Many Bajorans, particularly the terrorist group known as the Kohn-Ma, continued to fight Cardassia even after the withdrawal, which exacerbated an already chaotic situation. The question of how to re-integrate people such as Tahna Los, a hero of the Bajoran Resistance but a wanted criminal for his activities in the Kohn-Ma, was particularly difficult. ("Past Prologue") As a result, many convicted criminals such as Ibudan were released from prison. In Constable Odo's words, "Cardassian rule may have been oppressive, but at least it was... simple." ("A Man Alone")
Keeping the Kohn-Ma and other such groups in line proved doubly difficult because the Cardassians often did not honor post-war agreements. Many Bajorans interned or imprisoned during the Occupation remained in Cardassian custody despite a promise by Central Command to release all prisoners. The most infamous case was the legendary resistance fighter Li Nalas, who was believed to be dead on Bajor but had been imprisoned on Cardassia IV for years before Major Kira Nerys and Chief Miles O'Brien rescued him. Others were conveniently discovered and released only when the Central Command needed political leverage. ("The Homecoming", "Profit and Loss")
An uneasy alliance with the Federation complicated matters as Commander Sisko attempted to balance Bajoran interests with those of the Federation. Major Kira felt that many Bajoran and Federation interests should be kept separate, sentiments shared by Tahna Los and later exploited by the anti-alien Alliance for Global Unity, which sought to expel all non-Bajorans from the planet. ("In the Hands of the Prophets", "The Homecoming") Tahna believed in Bajor for Bajorans, and like him, the Alliance (also known as the "Circle") saw the Federation presence aboard DS9 as another form of occupation. Tensions came to a climax when Minister Jaro Essa, leader of the Circle, attempted a full-scale coup d'etat in what was later discovered to be an elaborate Cardassian attempt to reclaim Bajor by ousting the Federation. ("The Circle", "The Siege")
The effects of various Cardassian experiments poisoned much of Bajor's once-fertile farmland. Farmers such as Shakaar Edon were devastated, and soil reclamators became a highly sought-after commodity. ("Shakaar") Two year's after the Occupation's end, three million Skrreean refugees fleeing from the Dominion wished to farm the land of Bajor's uninhabited Northwest Peninsula. However, while the peninsula would have been an ideal place to farm prior to the Occupation, the provisional government was forced to turn the Skreeans away due to the toxicity of the soil and the plagues that had arisen on Bajor. ("Sanctuary")
Many other vestiges of the Occupation remained with Bajor, including a colony of Cardassian voles that made its home aboard Deep Space 9. ("Playing God") The Bajoran Resistance had created a "Babel" virus to disrupt operations aboard Terok Nor, but an accidental release of the virus incapacitated everyone aboard the station except for Constable Odo and Quark, both of whom were immune. ("Babel") Additionally, the crew of DS9 discovered a counter-insurgency program Gul Dukat had designed to combat revolts by the Bajoran laborers. The program initiated an auto-destruct function when it was discovered that Dukat's superior had implemented extra security measures to prevent Dukat from abandoning his post in the event that the Bajorans took control of Terok Nor. ("Civil Defense")
One of the Occupation's most insidious side effects was to cause many Bajorans to lose faith in the Prophets. Disenchanted Bajorans refused to believe their gods would sit idly by while the Occupation ravaged their planet, which led to the formation of the Cult of the Pah-wraiths. Ironically, Dukat became a twisted Messianic figurehead of the Cult for a brief time. ("Covenant") The allure of the notion that the Pah-wraiths would bring about a "restoration" for Bajor was so great that even Kai Winn, who believed the Prophets had forsaken her, turned to the Pah-wraiths for spiritual guidance. ("The Changing Face of Evil")
The Cardassians refused to acknowledge the events that transpired during the Occupation, instead using terms like "alleged improprieties" to describe them. Some Cardassians even believed that the Cardassian leaders themselves started rumors of brutality in order to keep the Bajorans thinking of themselves as victims. Aamin Marritza, who worked as a file clerk at Gallitep and witnessed numerous atrocities first hand, attempted to impersonate Gul Darhe'el so the Bajorans would sentence him to death and Cardassia would be forced to admit its guilt. However, his true identity was later revealed and he was killed by a fanatical Bajoran. ("Duet")
While most Cardassians remained bitter about the loss of Bajor, there were those who believed the two peoples could co-exist equally. Gul Dukat was one such person, although he never admitted it publicly. He conceded to Major Kira that the Occupation was a mistake, but he believed it made Bajor stronger. ("Indiscretion") Some such as Kotan Pa'Dar, one of the civilian leaders responsible for the withdrawal, were not necessarily fond of Bajorans but had no desire to go to war again. ("Cardassians") One of the most unlikely proponents of peace was Legate Tekeny Ghemor, a member of the Central Command and part of the Cardassian Underground. After he lost his daughter during an undercover mission where she posed as a Bajoran, a series of accidents brought him and Kira as close together as a father and daughter. ("Second Skin", "Ties of Blood and Water")
When the Bajorans and Cardassians finally established formal diplomatic relations, the Bajorans felt that they were entitled to war reparations for the damage incurred during the Occupation. Vedek Bareil Antos spent months secretly negotiating with Legate Turrel of the Central Command in order to work out a formal peace treaty between Cardassia and Bajor. Bareil died during the negotiations and Kai Winn took credit for what later became the Bajoran-Cardassian Treaty. ("Life Support")
Even after the treaty was signed, relations between the two peoples were shaky at best. During the Cardassian Rebellion against the Dominion, Major Kira had to wear a Starfleet uniform because Legate Damar, as well as Garak, felt that receiving help from a member of the Bajoran Militia would undermine his credibility with the Cardassian people. ("Tacking into the Wind") Seven years after the Occupation's end, Bajorans were still unwelcome on Cardassia Prime, which is why Tora Ziyal, Gul Dukat's half-Bajoran daughter, chose to remain aboard Deep Space 9. ("Sacrifice of Angels")
Mirror Universe Occupation
- Main article: Mirror universe
The mirror universe Bajor was conquered by the Terran Empire rather than Cardassia. It remained under Terran rule until the mirror universe Klingons and Cardassians formed an alliance and conquered the Terran Empire. Free of domination by outside forces, Bajor petitioned the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance for membership and ultimately became an influential member world. (DS9: "Crossover")
- The details of the Terran occupation of Bajor were never discussed, although given the treatment other races received while under Terran rule, it is safe to assume the mirror occupation was far less brutal.
The Occupation of Bajor bears a number of similarities to real-world events. When the Occupation, as well as the Bajorans themselves, were introduced in "Ensign Ro" (TNG), the Bajorans appeared to be refugees who fled their homes and lived in refugee camps, giving rise to the belief that they were intended to resemble Palestinians who had once lived in Israel. The claim that the Occupation had lasted approximately forty years would also be consistent with the period between Israel's independence (1948) and the airing of the episode (1991). As the race was developed in later episodes, however, this allusion seemed to fade.
The Occupation, as portrayed in later episodes, appears to have been more a metaphor for the aggression of Germany and Japan in the first half of the 20th century. Although fans often liken the Occupation to Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews, there does not appear to have been a concerted effort – with the exception of individuals such as Gul Darhe'el (DS9: "Duet") – to exterminate the race. Rather, the Cardassians simply viewed themselves as superior, believing the Occupation was necessary for the good of the Cardassian Empire.
One could thus argue the Occupation was more akin to Japan's occupation of Korea and particularly China. For example, Darhe'el's vivid description of how his men murdered the Bajoran workers is reminiscent of both Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire, but his statements about "need[ing] your resources" and Dukat's description of the brutal massacres as "alleged improprietaries" point strongly at Japan. The brutal treatment of other races under Japanese rule around the time of World War I and subsequent denial of events like the "Rape of Naking" (the brutality of which is dipsuted in Japan to this day, although there was also a large degree of Holocaust denial in post-World War II Germany) bear many similarities to the way military leaders on Cardassia were celebrated for their deeds during the Occupation while most civilians were oblivious to its true nature.
Another World War II parallel one might make is to the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states in 1940–41 and 1944–91. Superficially, of course, the length of these occupations is roughly the same as that of Bajor, but the parallels go much further. For instance, the resistance movements of the Baltic states were active far beyond the end of World War II. Known as the Forest Brothers, they continued to engage the Soviet occupation forces well into the 1950s. The tactics of these actions – sabotage, assassinations of officials, and guerilla warfare in the countryside – bears a striking resemblance to the Bajoran Resistance. However, perhaps the most interesting parallel is that of post-occupation events. Just like Bajor sought to enter into the Federation, the Baltic states were quick and eager to join NATO as a security measure against renewed aggression from Russia. And just like the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole created a geopolitical and strategic hotspot, so are the Baltic states strategically important to Russia, as their sovereignty severely limits Russian access to the Baltic Sea. Parallels to the ever present hostility between Bajorans and Cardassians even after the Occupation can also be made, considering the harsh laws of citizenship and official language, adopted by the post-occupation Baltic states.
Additionally, the Occupation bears some resemblances to European colonialism. Dukat's recollection of the Occupation in "Waltz" (DS9) is heavily reminiscent of Kipling's "The White Man's Burden": "They couldn't see that if they had only chosen to cooperate with us, we could've turned their world into a paradise. ... We did not choose to be the superior race, fate handed us our role. The d'jarra caste system (DS9: "Accession") also brings to mind British occupation of India (British Raj). Like Bajor, India had a strict caste system prior to British arrival, and like the Bajorans, the Indian people abolished the system once the occupation ended.
Deep Space 9/Terok Nor was built in 2346 according to "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night", which contradicts a statement made by Odo in "Babel" indicating that it was built in 2351. Given that the series was still new at the time of Odo's comment and the fact that the former episode dealt directly with the occupation, 2346 is generally accepted as the canon date and Odo's comment disregarded as a continuity error.
The exact length of the occupation is also open to interpretation, but the consensus is that it lasted for fifty years. Some references (including a mention in "Ensign Ro") give the figure as forty years prior to becoming untenable, while others have said fifty. According to Gul Dukat (in "Waltz"), the occupation had lasted forty years prior to his arrival, at which point he claimed the occupation was in a state of chaos. Most fans interpret Dukat's approximately ten-year tenure as prefect to mean that the Occupation lasted fifty years total, with other references either interpreted to refer to the quagmire Dukat inherited or disregarded as continuity errors. One could also argue that it lasted longer than fifty years, as the Cardassians maintained a military presence on Bajor prior to the formal annexation of the planet.
- Bajor - Bajoran Occupational Government, Bajoran Resistance, Collaborators, Kendra Valley Massacre
- Bajorans - Kira Nerys, Li Nalas, Kai Opaka, Shakaar Edon
- Cardassia - Cardassian Union, Obsidian Order, Terok Nor
- Cardassians - Dukat, Kotan Pa'Dar, Dr. Crell Moset
- Aftermath - Bajoran Provisional Government, Deep Space 9, Alliance for Global Unity, War Orphans Fund