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Namibian genocide descendants denounce German government’s lack of apology

The descendants of the 1904-1908 Namibia genocide and leaders of Namibia’s Nama and Ovaherero people expressed concerns over the Namibian and German government’s handling of the 1904-1908 genocide, which they described as being treated as a “political game”.  

“Neither the Namibian nor the German government has undertaken any effort to restore relationships with the affected Nama and Ovaherero communities,” said traditional chiefs Vekuii Rukoro and Gaob Johannes Isaak in a joint statement.  

They also emphasised that Namibia President Geingob's administration “simply does not have the political capacity or will to negotiate on our behalf and certainly cannot do so at arms’ length” and that “the German government first needs to recognise its acts – not only as genocide but as genocide in violation of international law.”

Despite Germany’s initial acknowledgement of its “moral responsibility” for the killings of over 65,000 Namibians, the descendants of the genocide have highlighted their long history of unhappiness at the lack of an “official apology” from the German government. They claimed authorities were avoiding the requisite reparative approach “because doing so requires an honest conversation and the willingness to commit to policies and strategies” and prevents them from making compensation claims.  

Earlier this June, President Hage Geingob told lawmakers that Germany has agreed that the 1904-1908 killings can be termed genocide and that they are to finally apologise for genocide”. 

However, following Germany’s denial of any wrong-doing and its argument that it was not legally liable “for murdering people and taking their property if those people had no right to exist in the first place” at a court hearing in 2017, the Nama and Ovaherero people stressed that the “Germans have now embraced the genocides again” and that “Germany cannot try to say “sorry” in one forum while arguing in another forum that they had every right to kill our grandparents.”

Read more here.

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