'Stop denying genocide'

German Left Party MP speaks out

25 March 2019 | International

Left Party parliamentarian in the German Bundestag, Helin Evrim Sommer, says the “German genocide against the Ovaherero and Nama can no longer be denied”.

Sommer made this remark during last Thursday's parliamentary debate and vote in Germany on the latest genocide motion, titled 'Reconciliation with Namibia - remembrance and apology for the genocide in the former colony of German South West Africa'.

“Five years of continuing mumbo-jumbo and secret diplomacy, even excluding the descendants of the survivors, are enough,” Sommer said. She said the genocide debate in Germany should be discussed in the German parliament, which she said has a special responsibility to mandate the German government to implement “appropriate reconciliation steps”, adding that “restorative justice” cannot be excluded.

“Every child has a better sense of how reconciliation works: in the beginning there must be (an) unequivocal public apology for the genocide. Of course, one-sided - as a gesture of insight and goodwill,” Sommer said.

She said the negotiations between the Namibian and German governments are at an “impasse” and that the “self-appointed representatives” of the victim communities “have to have their seat at the negotiating table”.

Before the parliamentary debate kicked off the solidarity alliance, 'No Amnesty on Genocide', held a demonstration in front of the parliamentary building in Berlin to propagate for the recognition, apology and compensation for the 1904 to 1908 genocide, echoing the motion of the Left Party. The alliance said it is “shameful” that Ovaherero and Nama descendants of victims of the genocide had to go to American courts to claim their say in the “overdue reparation for their terrible human and material losses”.

Israel Kaunatjike, an Ovaherero activist and alliance spokesperson in Berlin, said the Social Democratic Party (SPD) must stand by current federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier's demand made in 2012 for the full recognition of the genocide.

“The German government is mistaken when it believes that it can sit the matter out. We Ovaherero and the Nama will fight for compensation until justice prevails,” Kaunatjike said.



CATHERINE SASMAN