15 January 2018

Namibia: Germany Makes U-Turn On Genocide Lawsuit

Photo: allafrica.com
Left: German soldiers Right: Namibian prisoners chained (file photo).

Windhoek — Following a protracted legal challenge, the German government has finally accepted a court summons to appear in the United States Federal Court in New York in the class-action lawsuit for alleged crimes against humanity that the Ovaherero and Nama people filed against it.

Founding member of the US Association of the Ovaherero Genocide Veraa Katuuo confirmed this to New Era.

Speaking from the US yesterday, Katuuo said Germany has accepted service of summons and will thus appear in court in New York next week Thursday (January 25).

The Ovaherero and Nama people filed a lawsuit on January 5, 2017, suing Germany for excluding them from current negotiations between the German and Namibian governments concerning the 1904-1908 genocide committed on Namibian soil.

The initiators of the legal challenge are Ovaherero chief Vekuii Rukoro as representative of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA), and chief and chairman of the Nama Traditional Authorities Association, David Frederick, and the Association of the Ovaherero Genocide in the USA.

Frederick, the !Aman Traditional Authority chief of Bethanie, died on Friday. Meanwhile, descendants of the 1904-08 Nama and Ovaherero genocide victims, supporters and sympathisers convened in Okahandja on Saturday to pray for good fortune ahead of the federal class-action lawsuit in New York, United States of America.

The Ovaherero-Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation (OGF) had invited Namibians to Okahandja to pray for blessings ahead of the court hearing. Speaking to Nampa at the gathering, OGF chairperson Utjiua Muinjangue said the date January 12, 2018, marked exactly 114 years since the extermination order was issued by German Lieutenant-General Lothar von Trotha against the Ovaherero and Nama communities.

Substantiating the significance of the mass prayer, attended by about 400 people, Muinjangue said: "It is important for us to come together and reflect as a community and give ourselves strength to soldier on and move forward."

"The prayer is not funny. Former president Hifikepunye Pohamba called for a prayer day against gender-based violence. Some people called for prayer for rain, and [against] car crashes. So we are coming to our Lord to pray that despite the intent by the Germans to exterminate us, we survived. [It means] God had a plan for us," she added.

The churches that were represented at the event included the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Protestant Unity Church, St John Apostolic Faith Mission, Orusuuo and others. - Additional reporting by Nampa

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