Fight against genocide and racism is a global one

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob recently received a status update from the special envoy on genocide, Ambassador Dr Zed Ngavirue on the negotiations on genocide, apology and reparations (GAR) between Namibia and Germany ahead of the final round of discussions.

While the Namibian Government agreed to negotiate the issue of redress (reparations), which the German Government consistently referred to as “healing the wounds”, Germany has declined to accept the term ‘reparations’.

Although genocide is a punishable crime according to the United Nations Convention on Genocide, signed on December 9 1948 and effective January 12 1951, the German and Namibian governments have agreed on a political settlement in view of the genocide committed by German Imperial Troops in Namibia between 1904 and 1908.

In that vein, the German Government citing political and moral responsibility, has agreed to render an unconditional apology to the Namibian Government, her people and in particular the affected communities.

However, there is a sense of hypocrisy and racism from the German Government after it declined to accept the term reparations, yet it agreed to pay over Deutsche Mark 100 billion to direct survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and those who were made to work as forced labour after World War II.

The German Government’s behaviour draws parallels with that of the United States’ refusal to pay reparations for Africans who were enslaved during the times of slavery in America.

Namibia should turn to the UN General Assembly and emphasise an urgent need to engage the international community to compel Germany to give Namibia’s genocide victims the same significance it did to the Holocaust victims who were mainly white Jews.

Namibia should forge meaningful alliances with the Black Lives Matter campaigners who have internationalised human rights abuses in the United States in the wake of the police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and other African-Americans earlier this year.

The attitude of the German Government towards genocide victims in Namibia draws similarities because of the institutional racism professed by the US ruling class. Current events in the United States evidently expose hypocrisy of the American elite.

Rallies in support of African-Americans took place in many countries, but Africa, including Namibia, was not very active in this regard.

Just like the German government, the US ruling elite refused that it has to refund Africans for damage caused during slavery and colonialism. Namibia and other African states have full justification to demand compensation. Reparations will help Africa to achieve sustainable progress in solving social problems and increased prosperity.

But the demands must be coordinated. Africa should consolidate its efforts and put forward these matters at all possible levels; regional and global events.

An ally in this matter could be American billionaire Robert Johnson, who launched an initiative that the US Government should pay US$14 billion to African-Americans for the times of slavery.