Long-held, known German position, there was no genocide and no reparations – Hoffmann

Staff Writer

The Reconciliation Agreement/Joint Declaration is nothing but a confirmation of the long-held and entrenched position of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany that no genocide was committed against the Nama and Ovaherero, thus no reparations.
Says former Swapo Party of Namibia Member of Parliament (MP), and Founder and Chairperson of the Nama Genocide Technical Committee, Ida Hoffmann, adding her voice and weight to Genocide and Reparations campaign now shifting its determined focus to the international governmental and non-govermental organisations, particularly the United Nations.

This is with regard to the controversial and lately much-talked about Reconciliation Agreement, also referred to as Joint Declaration, between the Namibian and its German governments regarding Genocide, Apology and Reparations (GAR). The Joint Declaration resulted from the ninth round of negotiations between the two countries this May in Berlin. After close to six years of negotiations purported to be based on the 2006 Namibian National Assembly pertaining to the said colonial past between the two countries, especially the 1904-1908 genocide of the Nama and Ovaherero, Germany is hoping with to eventually close her dark chapter paving the way for continued cordial diplomatic relations established with Namibia since independence in 1990. A position the Namibian government seems not to be implicitly embracing.

But a section of the affected communities, particularly from among the Nama, Ovaherero and Ovambanderu, has vociferously rejected the Joint Declaration as against the letter and spirit of the 2006 Resolution. Thus with the rejection of the Joint Declaration, which lately saw a chequered sequel in the august house, the very genesis of the 2006 Resolution, and after an unsuccessful bid in the US courts, hence the shifting focus. For international influence to come to bear on both the Namibian and German governments, especially regarding the Joint Declaration, and the exclusion of a section of the affected communities from the bilateral negotiations.

The Botswana Society of Nama, Ovaherero and Ovambanderu (BOSNOO), has already submitted a testimony to the UN Human Rights Committee in this regard, particularly for the fact that they are today Botswana citizens because of the very genocide but have been excluded from the negotiations. Except for the fact that the Joint Declaration nowhere refers to them or recognise them. The Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) also reportedly have made submissions to the same body in this regard.

“The indivisibility of the demand for the acknowledgement of the crime of genocide, as far as the affected communities, wherever they find themselves, whether in Namibia or in the diaspora, has been grossly overlooked pertaining to the negotiations that have been ongoing between the Namibian government, and its German counterpart. To the extent that that the Reconciliation and Reconstruction Agreement and/or Joint Declaration makes no mention of the Nama and Ovaherero in the Diaspora, of especially Botswana and South Africa,” maintains Hoffmann.
She says the only thing that the recent debate in the National Assembly has revealed, is that the Joint Declaration “is no more than an instrument for the enhancement of the bilateral relations between the Namibian State and its German counterpart.”

Also that Germany has not recognised the genocide committed against the Nama and Ovaherero and further that the Joint Declaration has got nothing to do with Germany’s genocide against the Nama and Ovaherero and thus that Germany is not paying reparations to the Nama and Ovaherero. Adding that what Germany is offering in terms of the Reconciliation Agreement/Joint Declaration is not based on the admission of guilt for the crime of genocide in terms of the UN Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide but her commitment is out of moral and political responsibility.

Hoffmann concludes that the quantum is irrelevant and a triviality if there is no principled acknowledgment of guilt of the crime of genocide by Germany, and an honest direct apology by directly engaging all affected leaders.

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