Genocide victim communities want settlement agreement between Namibia, Germany revisited

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Leaders of the Namibian genocide victim communities, Nama and Ovaherero, have called for the settlement agreement between Namibia and Germany to be revisited, saying they were excluded from the negotiation process.

They cited a 2006 resolution made by the Namibian National Assembly that emphasizes the involvement of affected communities in the negotiations.

“What we are calling on is that the negotiations should start afresh, the victim communities must be on board and the two governments must be on board and we start the process afresh,” Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) Secretary General Mutjinde Katjiua told Xinhua. “That is the only way we can see a solution that will redress our challenges.”

“The Namibian government negotiated from a position of 72 billion euros to accept a deal of 1 billion euros. That is a lost case, so we need to go back to the drawing board,” he said.

In a separate interview, Deodat Dirkse, secretary-general of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA), said if the Namibian government does not go back to the drawing board to include the affected communities, it will face resistance from its own people.

“Now there is an agreement we haven’t seen yet. The biggest danger I see about this is that, if those Namibians that are included or stated in the resolution of 2006 are excluded, are we endangering their citizenship as Namibians or not?” he said.

Last Thursday, Namibian politician Kazenambo Kazenambo, together with other members of the affected groups, petitioned the United Nations to intervene over what they called the “unfair and botched” deal struck by the German and Namibian governments on the 1904-1908 genocide.

Kazenambo told the media that the agreement, which seeks to compensate Namibia with 1 billion euros (1.3 billion U.S. dollars) and a public apology, is a blatant disregard of the human rights of the Namibian people and undermines the lives of the people who were killed.

“The current agreement will not bring closure or restorative justice to the affected communities. The hide-and-seek being displayed by the German government has potential to cause civil strive and killed mutual trust among the affected communities,” he said.

Kazenambo said the deal shows the “patronizing” nature of the German government in dealing with the issue of genocide, calling for the UN to order the German government to find an agreeable solution.

He said the failure to find a long-lasting, acceptable solution by the German government is pushing Namibia’s affected communities to the brink.

Kazenambo said the deal fails to address the Ovaherero and Nama people’s loss of ancestral land.

“Germany, instead of facing and engaging the descendants of the genocide, has chosen to work with the government in gross violation of the UN charter on human rights,” he said.

Meanwhile, presidential press secretary and presidential adviser Alfredo Hengari said the government and President Hage Geingob fully appreciate the difficulties that are involved in managing such a complex process with emotions and also with the difficulties around agreeing on figures.

“However, the president also appreciates the fact that the genocide had strong moral dimensions and the dignity of the people cannot be bought. No amount of money can bring lives that are lost,” he said. “It is in that vein that the president and the government at large welcome the fact that Germany accepted the wrongs that it committed in Namibia as genocide.”

“Germany is offering an apology in that regard to be followed by reparations that would allow the seven affected regions and communities residing in those regions to start a process of reconstructions and most importantly healing,” Hengari said. Enditem

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