Civil Society Alliance: Reconciliation needs an apology and restorative justice - No Amnesty on Genocide!
Between 1904 and 1908 imperial Germany waged an atrocious and inhuman war of extermination against the Herero, Nama, Damara and San peoples in the former colony “German South-West Africa”, nowadays Republic of Namibia. According to the criteria of the UN Genocide Convention of 1948 the atrocities and massacres committed by German troops where a Genocide – the first of the 20th century.
Only with the Independence of Namibia in 1990 it became possible for the descendants of the victims and a free Namibian government to articulate with openness and self-determination their view on this history and to begin a process of dealing with this past. This includes the demand for “restorative justice” which is fundamental for the further development of Namibia. It is morally important for the national process of national reconciliation between the different peoples within Namibia and the descendants of German and other white settlers. On the material side this subject is closely linked with the still unresolved question of land reform in Namibia and a situation that condemns the descendants of the victims of the German genocide to a life in bitter poverty. This is to a great part due to the fact that the land and cattle of these peoples were robbed and given to white settlers mainly during the German colonial era.
As the legal follower of imperial Germany the German Federal Government refuses until today to apologize for this genocide. But without an apology there can be no sound basis for real reconciliation. In September 2011 the German Federal Government produced a scandal during the first repatriation of robbed human remains of this German genocide that are still kept in German archives until today. The Namibian delegation headed by a Namibian Minister was not officially welcomed according to international diplomatic standards by German authorities. Then the German government published a trivializing press release, refused to participate in a |+| panel discussion and missed once again an opportunity to apologize officially for the genocide. Instead it accused the Namibian delegation of having "compromised the good bi-lateral relations with Germany" and to have pursued a "hidden agenda" with their trip to Germany. Two victim’s committees reacted sharply to this allegation (|+| OCD-1904 and |+| NTC). In response to |+| questions in the German Parliament (Bundestag) the Federal Government pointed out the claim for restorative justice being the “hidden agenda” and accused “organizations in Germany” to have appeared as “joint hosts” and of having “openly incited” the Namibian delegation to put this issue on the agenda.
In December 2011 a conversation between Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba and the German Ambassador Egon Kochanke ended with an expulsion of the diplomat because of his insensitive behavior. The German-Namibian relations arrived at a temporary low point. (See |+| Article in Windhoek Observer)
At the Beginning of February 2012 Walter Lindner, Director-General for African Affairs in the German Federal Foreign Office, traveled to Namibia in order to talk to all stakeholders and to smooth the waters. Whilst he did apologize for the disrespectful reception of the Namibian delegation in September 2011, he however refused an apology for the German genocide. The Herero victims’ associations |+| OCD-1904 and |+| NTC underlined that they expect from the German Bundestag and Government a recognition of this genocide and an unconditional apology, ushering in a structured dialogue on restorative justice.
For many years, NGOs in Germany support these concerns. Therefore our civil society Alliance now supports the recent |+| motion introduced to the Bundestag "Acknowledging the German colonial crimes in former German South-West Africa as genocide and working towards restorative justice" (Printed Paper 17/8767). Meanwhile we regret that it has only the support of one parliamentary group and drass the urgent appeal to all political parties in the Bundestag to vote for this motion:
"Act now! Reconciliation between Germany and Namibia needs an apology and restorative justice for the genocide committed in the name of imperial Germany in the former colony German South-West Africa. The Bundestag must meet this responsibility and vote for a resolution for dialogue and reconciliation with the Republic of Namibia and the decendants of the affected communities of the Herero, Nama and Damara." (See also: |+| Resolution)
In the present motion we welcome especiallybesides an apology for the genocide, dialogue and restorative justice the proposed measures for a broad work on memory in Germany about its colonial history.
On the Initiative of the Namibian National Assembly a delegation of Namibian parliamentarians will sejourn at the Bundestag from 5 to 9 March 2012.This extended hand by Namibia for dialogue must not be rejected!
To mark the occasion of the returning of the mortal remains, the guests from Namibia have been presented with a |+| Book of Condolences, in which people from all over the world commemorate the dead. It is still online and open for condolence messages.
|+| Bundestag Motion "Acknowledging the German colonial crimes in former German South-West Africa as genocide and working towards restorative justice" (Drs. 17/8767) (|+| original Motion in German); |+| First debate (Speeches)
‘We have come back home…’ - Statement by Chief Alfons Kaihepovazandu Maharero
Statement by Chief Alfons Kaihepovazandu Maharero, Chairman of the Ovaherero/ Ovambanderu Council for the Dialogue on the 1904 Genocide (OCD-1904), on the Occasion of the ‘Requiem of the Martyrs’ at Heroes Acre, on October 05, 2011. Director of...
Saunders Jumah: German denial of Herero genocide
The Germans’ inhuman treatment of the Namibian delegation is only the most recent in a long history of injustice and disrespect towards African peoples. It is more than time, writes Saunders Jumah, for Africans to stand together, demand fair and equal...
‘Book of condolence in the memory of victims of German genocide in Namibia, 1904-1908’ – extracts
To mark the occasion of the restitution by the Berlin Charité Hospital of the first 20 mortal remains of Namibian victims of the German genocide, the German NGO Coalition presented the Namibian delegation with a Book of Condolences, in which...
Further Reading: Links to interesting press articles on the topic
Since the first ever restitution of 20 of the victims' human remains by Charité Hospital to the Republic of Namibia and the diplomatic scandal caused by the present German Government, the national and international media have taken up the issue. The following...
Get Involved: Links to the activities of the NGO Alliance (incl. Twitter/Facebook)
For many years, non-governmental organizations have been demanding that Germany unequivocally acknowledges its historical responsibility for the genocide and makes both material and non-material reparations. Around the first ever restitution of 20 of the...
Aufruf zum 6. Gedenkmarsch zur Erinnerung an die afrikanischen Opfer von Sklavenhandel, Sklaverei, Kolonialismus und rassistischer Gewalt
AfricAvenir unterstützt diesen Gedenkmarsch und wir rufen zur breiten Teilnahme auf! Es geht um viel: Alltäglicher Rassismus insbesondere gegen Schwarze Menschen, rechtsextremistischer Terrorismus und (Neo-)Kolonialismus sind nicht hinnehmbar. Es...
German Acknowledgements a Milestone in our Struggle (by Ida Hoffmann / Nama Technical Committee)
The German Government’s Director General for African Affairs is reported to have apologised on 1 February 2012 for the “atrocities” committed by the German Government against the Herero and Nama people: “We ask for forgiveness for these...|+| read article
OCD-1904 Position on the present German Government’s historic responsibility over Namibia
Presented to Mr. Walter Lindner, Director General for African Affairs, of the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the occasion of his audience with the supreme chief (Ombara Onene) Kaihepovazandu Alphons Maharero, for the attention of the German...|+| read article
Open Memorandum to the German State and the German People (by the Nama Technical Committee)
28 November 2011. It was reported that the German Ambassador to Namibia, 2011, on Wednesday, 16th November signed N$660 million agreement for infra-structure and land reform. It was further reported that at the occasion he stated the following amongst others:...
Press Release: The “Hidden Agenda” Claim of the German Ambassador and the Return of 13 Skulls from Germany
In reacting to the German Ambassador to Namibia, Egon Kochanke, who was quoted last week as saying Namibians who collected the skulls from Germany had a hidden agenda and had created a negative impression about bilateral relations between the two...|+| read article
"Verpasste Gelegenheit - Schädelübergabe ohne Gedenken oder Gedanken" - Leserbrief von Henning Melber zur Schädelrückgabe Zeremonie
Mit Sorge (wenn nicht Entrüstung) ließ sich das unrühmliche Spektakel der vergangenen Woche in der deutschen Hauptstadt aus der Perspektive jener Deutschstämmigen Namibias verfolgen, denen auch im eigenen Interesse an einer Verbesserung der...
Deutsche Zivilgesellschaft fordert symbolische und materielle Wiedergutmachung
Nachdem bereits die Podiumsdiskussion "Zeugen des deutschen Völkermords" am 28. September gezeigt hatte, wie groß der Bedarf und Wunsch der Nama und Herereo-Vertreter ist, den Deutschen ihre Geschichte zu erzählen, die Geschichte des...
Pressemitteilung: Versöhnung braucht Entschädigung
Berlin, 27.9.2011. Bündnis von zivilgesellschaftlichen Organisationen fordert Entschuldigung und offene Verhandlungen über Entschädigung mit den Nachfahren der Opfer des Ge-nozids in Namibia. Rund 100 Jahre nach dem Völkermord, den deutsche Truppen im...
Zeugen des deutschen Völkermords – Podiumsdiskussion aus Anlass der Rückführung menschlicher Gebeine aus der Charité nach Namibia
Am Mittwoch, den 28. September 2011, 19h, lädt AfricAvenir gemeinsam mit einem Bündnis zivilgesellschaftlicher Organisationen anlässlich der Rückführung von 20 Gebeinen von Opfern des deutschen Völkermords in Namibia durch die Charité zu...
Prof. Peter H. Katjavivi: The Significance of the Repatriation of Namibian Human Skulls
When the information about a number of human skulls at various German institutions was disclosed to me in 2008, shortly after I returned from being Namibia’s Ambassador in Berlin, I spoke out publicly about the need to have these human remains returned to...