By Mbatjiua Ngavirue The Namibian government is also the government of Herero, Nama and Damara victims of German atrocities during the 1904-1908 war and should therefore seek reparations on their behalf, says visiting German parliamentarian, HÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¼seyin-Kenan Aydin. Aydin said there is clear historical proof to show that what happened during the 1904-1908 war was genocide. His position is that the Namibian government must accept the historical proof and approach the German government for reparations on behalf of its citizens. He compared the situation with the genocide carried out by Ottoman Turkey against the Armenians, which was formally recognized as genocide by the European parliament with calls being made for reparations to be paid. The German government argues that there is no demand from the Namibian government for reparations to be paid. “I do not share the Namibian government’s view and, even if they do not demand reparations, it is the German government’s responsibility to compensate the victims. “There is, however, also responsibility on the part of the Namibian government, and it is not good enough for them to say it is up to the affected groups to seek redress,” Aydin felt. The German parliamentarian was speaking at a press conference held to brief the media at the conclusion of his one-week fact-finding mission to Namibia. Following his visit to Namibia, he was more than ever convinced that he has made the right choice in the stand he has taken on the Herero genocide. He said that, as Germans, they have the responsibility to acknowledge that what happened in 1904 was a carefully considered decision to destroy the Herero people. Authoritative records indicate the extermination policy pursued by Germany resulted in 80% of the Herero people being killed and 50% of the Nama population. Schlieffen, the-then Chief of the German General Staff, called the war a ‘racial struggle’ and expressly approved the ‘annihilation or complete enslavement’ of the Herero. He also drew attention to the decrees passed by Germany between 1905-1906 which disposed the Hereros of all their land and cattle. These decrees were directly responsible for the future plight the Herero people suffered, and continue to suffer. The aim of the expropriation was to bring about a situation where, without their land and cattle, the Hereros could be exploited as cheap labour, a situation that has not improved substantially until now. Aydin said poverty in the affected communities is visible, and anyone willing to open his or her eyes will see this. “It is therefore very necessary that the German parliament acknowledges that genocide took place and takes steps to materially compensate the victims. “It is not sufficient to say we are giving a bit more development aid to Namibia than to other countries,” Aydin remarked.
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