August 20, 2004

Hereros insist: apology must come with compensation

The Herero suing Germany for the 1904 atrocities have vowed that they would not withdraw the case as a precondition for dialogue with Berlin. "There could only be a possibility of suspending the case and this will only depend on how serious the Germans are with the issue of negotiations," a senior member of the Herero People Reparations Corporation, Arnold Tjihuiko, said. The comments come in the wake of growing calls from the German government for the Hereros to withdraw the N$20 billion lawsuit they have filed in a US federal court against Berlin and some German companies the say benefited from their exploitation and enslavement.

While accepting the German minister's apology, the Herero paramount chief Riruako cautioned that a verbal utterance alone was not enough to appease his people's aspirations towards a conclusion to the matter. He stressed that Germany today stands among the world's top eight economies because of the benefits it reaped from the near demise of the Herero people and "the government of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his expansionist campaign." "It is therefore fair and appropriate for the government of Germany to include compensation with the apology," Riruako demanded.

In the meantime, conservative parliamentary faction has slammed its government's apology. The Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) parliamentary faction has described Germany's development aid minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul's apology as "an emotional outburst" which "may cost taxpayers billions" of Euros. However, the CDU/CSU admitted that German had "special" responsibility towards Namibia "without any question". Namibia is a leading recipient of German aid, receiving about US$14 million a year. (The Namibian, Windhoek / New Era, Windhoek)


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