Windhoek-Human rights advocate Phil ya Nangoloh’s appeal to the Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to apologize to Namibia for condoning alleged human rights violations against Namibians by Swapo during the country’s struggle for independence, is putting Namibia on a “wrong map”, says Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba.
Ya Nangoloh, who is the director of NamRights, together with individuals who share his sentiments yesterday held a press conference in Windhoek where they briefed journalists on their petition to LWF.
The LWF is in Windhoek to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this week and next week.
“We ask the Assembly to consider using the commemoration of the 500th anniversary as a golden opportunity to apologize to hundreds of Namibians for LWF’s complicity in the massive human rights violations by the Swapo leadership during Namibia’s struggle for independence,” said Sylvia Shikongo, a Lubango dungeon survivor.
She said the Assembly of the LWF should also seriously consider facilitating genuine national reconciliation in Namibia.
Mbumba said the LWF has honoured Namibia with “open arms and we should receive them with open arms”.
“Why should a proud Namibian wait for international organisations to make a fool of himself? Why do we like to craft headlines in the face of international organisations?” queried Mbumba.
He said Namibia is a shining example on the international front, adding that the country has competent courts and if anybody has concerns they should follow laws by approaching the courts.
Ya Nangoloh said the apology request is not directed to the LWF as such but to their Assembly to consider during their meeting.
He said that the Committee of Parents and Parents Committee of Namibia as well as some Lutheran clergymen, namely, the late Reverend Siegfried Groth and the late Reverend Salatiel Ailonga had shared with the LWF offices in Geneva that ‘a dangerous situation’ was underway in Swapo in exile and that they should act before it was too late.
“Yet the LWF failed to act. Had they acted, the violations would have stopped or would have occurred to a lesser extent,” added Shikongo.
In the statement signed by Ya Nangoloh and his compatriots, it is alleged that when the then Swapo president Sam Nujoma visited the LWF offices in Geneva in February 1987 seeking humanitarian assistance he denied any human rights abuses.
“Nujoma labelled such allegations as South African propaganda to smear the good name of Swapo. He even invited the LWF to visit Angola to see for itself,” added Shikongo.
The LWF dispatched a committee consisting of six people from various Evangelical Lutheran churches in the world to see for themselves, she said. Human rights violations were committed in Angola and Zambia, they said.
Namibians who were allegedly tortured by Swapo leadership were accused of being spies of the South African regime. Victims were allegedly shot dead, buried alive in dungeons or detained for long periods.
“I’m suffering inside,” an emotional Shikongo said, explaining how some Namibians were allegedly tortured by Swapo.
Asked what their next step would be if the LWF does not respond to their petition with an apology, Ya Nangoloh said “their conscience will haunt them”. “The only way is to apologise in order to continue being viewed as credible. They owe us an apology – they must admit and repent. I for one won’t forgive them until they ask for forgiveness. Which God are they following – it’s not too late to apologise,” said Ya Nangoloh.
New Era contacted Bishop Ernst Gamxamub of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) on the matter and when he answered he said he was in a meeting. He did not respond to a text message sent to him.