Germany announced Friday (May 28) that it will pay Namibia $1.3 billion in formal recognition of colonial genocide. The announcement and payment comes over 100 years after Germany committed gruesome atrocities against the ethnic groups of what is now the nation of Namibia.
The payment, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, will go toward development and reconstruction and to ask Namibia for forgiveness for the “crimes of German colonial rule.”
“Our goal was and is to find a common path to genuine reconciliation in memory of the victims. This includes naming the events of the German colonial period in what is now Namibia, and in particular the atrocities in the period from 1904 to 1908, without sparing or glossing over them. We will now also officially call the events what they were from today’s perspective: a genocide,” Maas said.
During those years Maas referenced, at least 80,000 Herero and Nama people were killed following an anti-colonial uprising.
Namibian presidential press secretary Alfredo Hengari told CNN that the African nation sees the formal recognition of the crimes as a critical step in reconciliation and reparation.
“These are very positive developments in light of a very long process that has been accelerated over the past five years,” Hengari said. “People will never forget this genocide; they live with it. And this is an important process in terms of healing those wounds,” he said.
Victim Advocacy Groups Reject Offer
Advocacy groups for victims of the genocide have rejected the deal with Germany, some saying they weren’t a part of discussions.
“Is this the kind of reparation that we are supposed to be excited about?” Paramount Chief of Herero People and former attorney general Vekuii Rukoro told CNN. “This is just a public relations. This is a sellout job by the Namibian government. The government has betrayed the cause of my people,” Rukoro added.
Rukoro said the victim advocacy groups for the Herero and Nama people expect monetary reparations. However, the groups, he said, should get a collective payment to go directly to the descendants of those killed and forced off their land during Germany’s colonial rule.
The governments have been in talks negotiating repayment since 2015.
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