Germany snubs Namibian genocide case
Germany is apparently refusing to accept a court summons to appear in the US Federal Court in New York in the class-action lawsuit for crimes against humanity over killings of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia in 1904-5.
The next hearing is scheduled for July 21 but Germany already snubbed the first hearing in March claiming it did not receive any summons.
The two Namibian tribes filed a lawsuit in January suing Germany for excluding them from bilateral talks with Windhoek over the 1904-08 killings on Namibian soil.
When Germany annexed its colony in southwest Africa, land was confiscated, livestock stolen and native people subjected to racially motivated violence, rape and murder. In January 1904, the Herero rebelled and more than 100 German civilians were killed. The smaller Nama tribe joined the rebellion in 1905.
German forces responded without mercy as thousands of Herero were driven into the Kalahari desert, wells poisoned and food supplies cut. General Lothar von Trotha, who was ordered to crush the insurgency, ordered his forces to kill “any Herero, with or without a rifle, with or without cattle”.
“I do not accept women or children either: drive them back to their people or shoot them,” he wrote in an order.
Those who survived were forced into concentration camps, where they were beaten and worked to death. Half of the total Nama were also killed, dying in camps like one on Shark Island, in the coastal town of Lüderitz. By 1908, only 16,000 remained, historians estimate.
The legal initiator in the US is the Herero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro and chairman of the Nama Traditional Authorities Association, David Frederick, and the Association of the Herero Genocide in the US.
Alleged genocide committed against the Namibians is due to be mentioned during the opening of the UN General Assembly in September.
Festus Muundjua, Herero Genocide Committee patron, said no response had been received from Germany about attending next week’s court date and that Berlin would reportedly only accept a summons directly from the US government and not from a federal court.
Muundjua said the case could not be thrown out of court as it concerned genocide and was not subject to any statute of limitations under the Rome Statute of International Law.
The 1998 statute said “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a citizen whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and by enhancing international cooperation”.
Reiterdenkmal in Windhoek before its relocation in 2009. Picture credit: Wikimedia