Oshana activists back Swapo against probe

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Oshakati – A group of Swapo activists in Oshana Region on Friday made public a petition criticising the formation of an international committee expected to investigate alleged human rights abuses perpetrated by Swapo in exile.

The three-page petition, titled ‘Hands off our leaders/hands off our mighty Swapo party’, will be handed to the Governor of Oshana Region, Clemens Kashuupulwa, once he resumes work following the festive season holidays. It will further be sent to President Hage Geingob, who is in charge of the party.

The drawing up of the petition follows the release of names of Namibians who have agreed to serve on the international inquiry into alleged crimes committed by Swapo in exile between 1966 and 1989.

The Namibians who will serve on the committee are John Nakuta, Leah Shaanika, Hendrik Christian, Monika von Wietersheim and Paul Thomas.

The chairperson of the committee, Erica Beukes, in December last year told local media that the names of the foreign members would be released soon.

The activists called on the country’s leadership and the Namibian youth to halt all hindrances to peace and stability and for a total adoption and implementation of the policy of reconciliation at all levels.

“Why do our leaders need to be investigated by external forces and some internal parasites? When we attained our independence one of the things we said we should do was that we should reconcile and forgive each other as a nation,” read the petition.

According to the petition, read out by Emanuel Aron, the committee aims at ridiculing, embarrassing and casting doubt on former leaders of Swapo and current Namibian leaders.

“The inquiry wanted by this committee is a non-starter as there was no government of the Republic of Namibia during 1966-1989, but an interim government by South West Africa/Namibia,” reads the petition.

The petition further said the group has failed to bring the matter before a Namibian court, as is a pre-requisite of the Supreme Court and UN committee provisions.

“Such complaint was not brought before a Namibian court yet; any complaint should first be lodged domestically; thus only if the Namibian court fails to adjudicate upon the complaint fairly and adequately should the matter be referred to the Committee Against Torture (CAT),” read the petition.

According to the Namibian Sun of December 19, 2016, the committee wants the commissioners to investigate killings and detention of Namibian refugees, torture, forced confessions of detainees, complaints against Swapo leadership made by members of its youth wing in 1976, as well as members of PLAN, Swapo’s then armed wing.

The commissioners will further probe the involvement of complicity of foreign missions and other instances, the Johny Ya Otto Commission of Inquiry, and other related matters.

The group at the time said the inquiry was necessary because the Swapo leadership had to date refused to account for the killings and disappearance of fellow Namibians in exile.

They argued the Swapo leadership refused to account for the whereabouts of the remains of murdered Namibian refugees while it continued to slander and defile both the murdered refugees and the survivors of the so-called Swapo dungeons.

The protest petition was signed by Lucas Tshuuya, Sam Shipiki, Aron Emanuel, Hofni Iipinge, Jackson Muma and Pendapala Nakathingo.

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