Genocide, reparations issue refuses to subside

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Windhoek

The chairperson of the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation, Utjiua Muinjangue, says they are seeking an audience with President Hage Geingob to exchange notes with him, as well as to seek information on pertinent issues pertaining to the 1904-08 genocide and their reparation demands.

Muinjangue feels the affected communities are being deliberately sidelined in the discussions that have reportedly been going on between the Namibian government and its German counterpart.

In a recent interview with New Era the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, confirmed the ongoing talks, saying that it is being handled at governmental level.

At a media conference yesterday, Muinjangue said: “Be it talks, negotiations, or the classification as genocide of the war of 1904-1908 against the Ovaherero and Nama, it cannot be about us, and yet without us.” She was speaking on behalf of the Nama Genocide Technical Committee and the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation.

She said recently there have been a number of reports in the press indicating that the government of the Federal Republic of Germany is moving closer to accepting that it committed “genocide” during its colonial rule in then German South West Africa (modern-day Namibia) and that negotiations have been ongoing between the German and Namibian governments.

“In this regard the Reparation Movement, led by the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation and the Nama Genocide Technical Committee, hereby wish to make known its views on these developments through this statement to the two governments of Namibia and Germany, and to the world at large.”

“If our government is talking about us in these talks, negotiations and classification of words [such as genocide] on our behalf, it should have a mandate to do so, or at least the decency and respect to consult us as an in-house affair, so that it is informed of our position as the direct descendants of the victims of this genocide,” she added.

Muinjangue advised the Namibian government against creating the impression that it is now in partnership with a government that has committed heinous crimes against its own citizens, to wit the Ovaherero and Nama.

“It should partner with us, because charity begins at home,” she advised. She said the government should not be walking hoodwinked into watering down international laws and the meaning of the word ‘genocide’, as defined in the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes of Genocide, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1948.

Adding fuel to the fire, Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro has given the German government until October 2 to agree to pay reparations, or face legal action. Speaking at a press conference following their return from Europe recently, where they consulted a team of experts in international law in preparation for possible legal action against Germany, Rukoro said, “We’re not going to rest until our demands are met and, therefore, if nothing is done before the October 2 deadline, we will take the German government to the International Criminal Court.”

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