‘Merkel must apologise for genocide’

The issue of genocide is increasingly picking up steam ahead of the night round of reparation negotiations.

20 August 2020 | International

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

Descendants of Namibian genocide victims are demanding that German federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier or chancellor Angela Merkel apologise for the 1904-08 Nama and Ovaherero genocide during an enlarged sitting of that country’s parliament, known as the Bundestag.

This demand will be deliberated on during the upcoming ninth round of reparation negotiations and is contained in a statement issued by Ueriuka Festus Tjikuua, the chair of the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama Council for Dialogue on the 1904-08 Genocide (ONCD 1904-08) technical committee.

This committee also serves on government’s negotiation team.

“It has also been decided that Germany will deliver its official apology for these atrocities during an ‘enlarged parliamentary session’ where the leaders of the targeted communities would be invited and will be present,” the statement said.

The ninth round of negotiations will largely focus on socio-economic issues such as land and agriculture reform, electrifying homes and providing sanitation to affected communities, amongst others.

The ONCD also dismissed claims that Germany offered €10 million to Namibia for reparations.

“Yes, there was tactically an indicative amount suggested while discussing developmental projects, which was far more than the latter amount (€10 million), but it was not an offer. The ONCD 1904-08 is not and will never be that desperate to accept meagre offers made to us that are not commensurate with the losses our ancestors suffered, of which the effects are still felt in our daily socio-economic lives,” Tjikuua said.

Questionable

Meanwhile, the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) and Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) said these talks lack consequential leadership and raise more questions than answers.

In a statement issued last week, they also accused the Namibian government of conniving against its own people by accepting the term ‘Wiedergutmachung’ which means “healing wounds”, instead of genocide.

“The German government, with its ‘Wiedergutmachung’ gimmick, and the Namibian government to agree to the so-called ‘Wiedergutmachung’, is a conspiratorial connivance against its own citizens, who happen to be Ovaherero and Nama, and those in the diaspora who deserve an acknowledgement, apology and restorative justice,” they said.

The German embassy in Namibia said yesterday: “The dialogue between the two governments is ongoing. As both sides have agreed to maintain confidentiality, the embassy is not in a position to provide a statement.”

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