Thursday, May 10, 2018

Holocaust Denial?

Anger is building in Namibia over inaction by colonial-era power Germany, almost three years after talks began about an apology and reparations for the genocide of its indigenous Herero and Nama.

Helin Evrim Sommer is extremely angry. "The secret bilateral negotiations are not transparent, a farce in a sense,” the spokeswoman on development  for Germany's Left party criticized in an interview with DW. Even members of the German parliament don't know exactly where the talks between Germany and Namibia , once regarded as a prestige project, now stand, the lawmaker said. The position papers with the detailed claims out of Namibia and the offer put out by Germany are both classified. Whenever delegates meet, the outcome of the negotiation round remains likewise unclear – no more than a brief media statement follows. Consequently, no one in Germany takes notice of these negotiations.

All major parties acknowledged that Berlin should apologize for the genocide in its former colony of "German South West Africa” where tens of thousands of Herero and Nama were killed between 1904 and 1908.  Namibia is still waiting for that apology. There is no mention of it in the current German government's coalition agreement. 

A columnist from the government-owned New Era newspaper had accused the German Ambassador Christian Schlaga of denying German guilt for the genocide in a speech. 

"The populace is losing patience,” says Maximilian Weylandt of the Namibia office of the independent London-based think tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). "After more than two years there is still no outcome, and some people are asking whether Germany is really negotiating in good faith and is prepared to respond to the needs of Namibians.”

On the disputed question of compensation, for instance, two thirds of Namibian surveyed are in favor of compensation from Germany, a possibility Berlin had excluded at the outset of the talks.  Less than half of respondents in the IPPR survey said they believed its negotiations with Germany were good or "mostly good." A little over half want traditional representatives of the Herero and Nama to be involved. Some traditional Herero and Nama leaders have long criticized the Namibian government as being too soft on Germany. They are suing in a US federal court to be part of the negotiations between Windhoek and Berlin. 

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