PDM leader McHenry Venaani has asked Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock to reconsider that country’s stance regarding the Joint Declaration on the 1904-1908 genocide.
Earlier this month, the German government, while responding
to written questions submitted by Sevim Dagdelen, a member of Germany’s federal parliament from the socialist Left Party, made it clear that there was no possibility of renegotiating the joint declaration, stating that negotiations were closed as far as they were concerned.
Venaani has now appealed to the morality of the foreign minister, who took office late last year, amid hopes that the new government, under which she serves, would be more sympathetic to the cries of the genocide victim descendants.
“I now once more turn my attention to you by calling upon your moral sense to return to the negotiating table and re-engineer an accord that would satisfy both groups. In its current form, the Joint Declaration blatantly ignores the intricate subject matter as well as the unsolved contradictions contained therein,” Venaani wrote to Baerbook.
He argues that while financial compensation is offered, the Joint Declaration cautiously treads around the expression “genocide” in legal terms to avoid far-reaching precedence.
His comments come as, last month, Polish politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski said that their government will seek the equivalent of $1.3 trillion in reparations from Germany for the Nazis’ World War II invasion and occupation of the country.
Last year, Namibia and Germany announced an agreement worth 1,1 billion euros (N$18,6 billion) over 30 years in projects to reconcile and reconstruct communities affected by the Nama-Herero genocide of 1904 to 1908.
According to Venaani, it is important that the declaration’s implementation and the envisaged “programs for reconstruction and development” will adequately involve civil society actors and communities especially affected by colonial crimes, including those in the diaspora.
“This rings especially true as the accord deliberately omits to atone for the affected descendant communities, especially in Botswana, that are there as results of the atrocities committed against their forefathers. Therefore, honourable minister, one is left to wonder; how can there be any moral atonement if said apology is premised on denying those worst affected by the act of genocide?” he wrote.
“I can appreciate that the accord is the result of protracted negotiations between our two governments, however, minister Baerbock, I implore you to strongly consider the foundations of my arguments brought forth, as well as those made by other members of the affected groups. Many of which you will find to be academically sound.”
This is the latest of a number of letters to Bearbock and the new German government from Namibian officials seeking to set aside the Joint Declaration.
The Nama Traditional Leaders Association, through their representative in Germany, Christine Kramp, also sought an audience with the German foreign minister. However, according to the German government, since, in the previous letter, the Africa representative of the Foreign Office had already requested that the German government could not enter into special negotiations with individual groups, there was no response to this email.
“On June 9 and 10, 2022, ms. Kramp asked the representative of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association, ms. Sima Luipert, for a short-term appointment with Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Due to the Covid-19 illness of the Federal Minister, no appointments were made at this time. Appointments were made at this time (response email on June 10 and 14, 2022),” a German parliamentarian representing the government is quoted saying.