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)
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