Windhoek-The lawsuit filed by the Ovaherero and Nama people, in which they seek reparations from the German government for the Ovaherero/Nama genocide, is set to be heard for the third time in a US court, later this month.
The class-action suit, filed by Ovaherero Chief Vekuii Rukoro and Nama Chief David Frederick, seeks reparations from the present German government for genocide carried out by German colonial troops, in what is now Namibia, more than a century ago.
The case, scheduled for January 28, was brought to court in the US because that country allows lawsuits that address claims on behalf of entire communities.
The plaintiffs are also demanding that their representatives be included in ongoing talks between Germany and Namibia, which aim for a joint declaration on their common past.
Up to 100,000 Herero and Nama are believed to have been killed by German imperial troops in the early 1900s in what was then the German colony of South-West Africa. Successive German governments have refused to accept the atrocities as genocide.
The dialogue between Germany and Namibia includes discussions about an official apology for the genocide. However, Germany’s ambassador to Namibia, Christian Schlaga, has publicly ruled out paying reparations directly to present members of the Ovaherero and Nama ethnic groups.
Schlaga last year hinted, though, that Germany would be willing to pay Namibia compensation from which its entire population would benefit.
Deutsche Welle (DW) was recently quoted by the German envoy Ruprecht Polenz as having said that it was right that the German government ruled out direct compensation even before negotiations were concluded.
“The expectations of the negotiations were fraught with such perspectives from the start,” he told DW.
“The fact is that after World War II, Germany only paid personal reparations to individuals who personally suffered in the concentration camps or were forced to do slave labour,” he said.
DW also quoted the German opposition parliamentarian Niema Movassat of Die Linke (The Left) party as to have said the lawsuit was the “consequence” of the German government’s refusal to enter into direct negotiations with the Herero and Nama.
“It is absurd to exclude a certain community from negotiations about a genocide that affected them. It is understandable that the people do not feel taken seriously,” he told