OKAHANDJA - The Ovaherero Genocide Committee (OGC) has threatened to stage a worldwide protest in front of all the German embassies and cause a ‘continuous embarrassment’, unless Germany acknowledges the atrocities committed against the Ovaherero, Nama and San communities during the 1904– 08 wars.
The 1904-08 wars nearly exterminated the Ovaherero with 80 percent of them perishing at the hands of German imperial forces in what is regarded as the first genocide of the 20th Century. “We will appeal to all well meaning citizens of the world, in all the streets of the world’s capitals, to join us in our actions [of] demonstrating in front of German embassies and cause continuous embarrassment,” Utjiua Muinjangue, the chairperson of the Ovaherero Genocide Committee said on Sunday.
Muinjangue was addressing the 89th Red Flag Day commemoration at Okahandja on Sunday. The Red Flag event is held to commemorate the re-interment of the remains of the great Samuel Maharero and to pay homage to all the fallen heroes and heroines of Ovaherero-Ovambanderu communities. The Ovaherero, Nama and San communities are demanding that the German government acknowledge the genocide and pay reparations to the descendants of the victims.
German Member of Parliament Niema Movassat and representative of the Left Party was in Namibia last week to pledge solidarity with the affected communities and to provide a new impetus to talks between the Namibian and German governments over demands for genocide reparations and reconciliation.
The demands have received widespread support from sympathisers in many parts of the world, with Germany’s Left Party going as far as tabling yet another motion in the German Bundestag (parliament) in March in an effort to get the federal government to acknowledge the 1904-08 atrocities and the genocide instigated by the infamous General Lothar von Trotha and his heinous extermination orders.
“The descendants of the victims of this genocide still lack the resources they need to establish the basis for their economic independence and to this day, no German state has ever made reparations for these crimes,” Movassat was quoted saying.
Muinjangue said the support from the “whole world seems to have awakened to our call for the acknowledgement of the genocide against our forbears and the consequences [we continue to face] as descendants of the victims.”
The motion further seeks an apology from the German parliament for the atrocities and the imperative to enter into direct talks with the descendants of the affected communities - with both the Namibian and German governments as key players. The German government has once again rejected a motion on genocide, which has irked the Ovaherero Genocide Committee.
Similar motions by the Socialist Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party have foundered in the German Bundestag in the past, including a motion adopted by the Namibian parliament and forwarded to the German parliament.
“By rejecting this motion, the German parliament has effectively put an official stamp endorsing the extermination orders of October 02, 1904 for the Ovaherero and the one of April 22, 1905 for the Nama and all the concomitant atrocities that characterised those orders. It endorsed the blatant racism that was the centrepiece and indeed the driving motive behind the atrocities in question,” Muinjangue said.
The committee says it is unfair for Germany to reject the motion that seeks justice for almost the same crimes as those committed against the Jewish people by Adolf Hitler, and for which the very same federal government compensated the descendants of the Jewish victims.
“They were compensated in cash or in kind to the tune of billions. It is simply an act of racism. This is because Jews are white and we are non-white. It is as simple as that,” Muinjangue.
The German government has argued against reparations saying it is already channelling significant development aid to Namibia, and has recently made available money for a special initiative to benefit the affected communities directly.
Muinjangue however dismissed the special initiative saying it can be no substitute to reparations. “The special initiative cannot expect the Ovaherero and Nama to believe that if you buy old goats, old cattle, a few donkeys and chickens and give these to the people, you have paid them the reparations that they demand,” she said, adding that the funding for the special initiative could be inflated ten times, but would never equal reparations.
The committee says it is ready to mobilise its friends in Germany, as well as the German electorate to vote out the present coalition government and to install a humane government that has respect for the humanity of the Ovaherero and the Nama.