Namibians reject compensation from Germany over genocide

2021-09-22 20:22:26
Namibians reject compensation from Germany over genocide

Protestors have gathered outside parliament in Namibia’s capital where an agreement with Germany, in which Germany acknowledged it committed genocide during its colonial occupation, was due to be debated.

The irate protestors marched on Tuesday to the parliament building in Windhoek to protest against the agreement penned earlier this year between their government and Germany.

Germany in May acknowledged it had committed genocide in colonial-era Namibia against Herero and Nama people between 1904 and 1908 and promised a billion euros ($1.3bn) in financial support to descendants of the victims.

Activists have rejected the offer as insufficient.

“Say no to the fake genocide deal,” read a placard. “The blood of our ancestors was not in vain” and “proper reparation now,” read others.

Inside the National Assembly, Defence Minister Frans Kapofi read a statement on his intention to table the agreement, describing it as “an achievement, of some measure, to get the Federal Republic of Germany accepting responsibility” for the genocide.

Kapofi said the government has raised concerns over the reparation amount.

“Depending on the negotiations between the parties, an improvement of the terms of reparations, particularly on quantum, is not out of the question,” the minister added.

The speaker accepted that the agreement be submitted but abruptly adjourned the session before it was tabled.

A pro-government faction of the Herero and Nama provisionally accepted Germany’s offer, one of its leaders, Gerson Katjirua, said at a news conference.

The sum will be paid across 30 years, according to sources close to the negotiations and must primarily benefit the descendants of the Herero and Nama.

“The agreement falls short … on meaningful apology and reparations … [and] contains no justice and only sharpens our pain,” Kavemuii Murangi, a descendant of one of the victims, said in a statement.

The German government has previously acknowledged “moral responsibility” for the killings but Berlin has avoided an official apology to ward off compensation claims.

An estimated 65,000 of the 80,000 Herero living in German South West Africa, and 10,000 of an estimated 20,000 Namas reportedly perished during the period.

Germany ruled Namibia from 1884 until it lost the colony during World War I. In 1920, the territory was placed under the South African administration until 1990 when it gained independence from the Apartheid regime.

It took Germany more than a century to acknowledge Namibia’s genocide, which occurred decades before the ‘Holocaust’ of Jews. Many Germans remain unaware of what happened in their former African colony, although it has more recently entered the history curriculum in schools.

Many see overt racism in how Germany has dealt with its genocide crimes in Namibia and the issue of the compensation.

The Herero and Nama see a contrast between how Germany approached this genocide and how it handled reparations with the Jews after World War II. Germany has negotiated with the Jewish Claims Conference, founded by representatives of 23 Jewish groups, to provide indemnification worth $80 billion since 1952 to Jews from around the globe.

“Germany spoke to many different Jewish groups after the Holocaust. They didn’t say they will only speak to Israel,” said Ms. Luipert, the descendant of Nama victims. “Why is Germany now saying, when it comes to the Nama and Herero we are not willing to talk to a dozen different groups? Is it because we are Black?”

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