Genocide justice is about us, not government – Hofmann

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Windhoek

Nama genocide technical committee chairperson Ida Hoffmann is optimistic one of the outcomes from the class action lawsuit lodged in a US court against the German government for reparations over the OvaHerero and Nama genocide of 1904-1908 will be their inclusion in the entire process until justice is done.

In an interview with New Era on Monday, Hoffmann reacted that genocide justice has always been about the rights of victims, survivors and descendants of the terrible German crime against humanity that brought the Nama and OvaHerero almost to the brink of extinction.

She said she was aware of the class action suit filed in New York by representatives of two indigenous groups against Germany seeking reparations for genocide of their people by German colonial rulers over a century ago, saying this is a matter of deep concern to her.

“Yes, I am totally aware that the Nama and OvaHerero brought a case against the German government. The German government remains in total disregard about the justice principles of the case. They disregard our demands. They still refuse to have direct talks with us the descendants and activists, and we the victims. We the activists and descendants demand to be included in all the negotiations. Genocide justice is about us, it’s is not about the government,” she stated.

Further, she said, the descendants are the ones who started this genocide justice fight.
“And we are still the prime movers and shakers of the issue. The Namibian government has an unacceptable position of disregarding us. We are responsible for the genocide justice process, and will take it to its logical conclusion, come hell or high water. Yes, we are being excluded by the German government and the Namibian government from being part of the justice process,” Hoffmann added.

When asked how she perceived the way forward in terms of the ongoing negotiations should these indigenous groups have their day in court, Hoffmann said: “We are going to have our day in court. And it is going to be a day of reckoning, truth, and justice.”

But Namibia’s special envoy on genocide negotiations, Dr Zed Ngavirue, sang a different tune on the issue.
When asked what he envisaged for the beginning of 2017 in terms of his task at hand regarding the ongoing negotiations, he said: “We put our position to the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany through their special envoy last year.” Adding that there has been a fair amount of discussion on the issues arising from the matter.

“We are looking forward to a further round of discussions this year in Berlin, where we hope we will be given a meaningful response to deliver to our government and the victim communities,” Ngavirue noted.
The premise and position of these groups seem to be that they have been excluded from the genocide negotiations.

When asked how and who excluded them, Ngavirue said to the best of his knowledge, representatives of the respective committees on genocide and reparations were invited to participate in the structures set up for the negotiations.

When asked how he saw the way forward in terms of ongoing negotiations should these indigenous groups have their day in court, he said: “Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Hoffmann said the groups are ready to talk to any relevant individual, government, institution or organisation, as long as every stakeholder dealing with the issue realizes the importance and merits of the case.

She maintained the work they have done so far is the very content and dynamic of any negotiations and the way forward.
“It is because of our ongoing work and activist pressure that the very issue is the talk in high places and offices in Namibia, Germany and other platforms around the world. That is what we have made possible,” she indicated.

According to her, she is strengthening her resolve and actions to achieve all their primary demands which are the round table for all-inclusive discussions, the acknowledgement of guilt from the German government, an official apology, the complete repatriation of all human remains of Namibian origin from Germany to Namibia and other objects, reparations in full, restoration without excuses, and finally, reconciliation between Namibia and Germany.

Asked whether she saw everything being on schedule as envisaged, Hoffmann said: “We are behind schedule. We have long gone past the schedule where justice should have been done for our people. Our people remain in distress. Have been so for the more than hundred and twelve years since the massacres. The poverty, hunger, starvation, landlessness, homelessness, crime, diseases, unemployment – all these dysfunctions are gripping our people, day in day out, all day everyday.”

She blamed the Namibian and German governments, saying they are the very reasons why people are still under these “murderous conditions”.
She added they don’t have a choice but to step up the process of genocide justice, and to bring the necessary relief for their people.
“We are in this negotiation war for more than ten years now, since the 2006 Namibian parliament motion. Justice is way overdue,” she said.

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