Memorial event for Herero and Nama (April 22)

Herero and Nama demand direct talks with Germany

On April 22, descendants of the Herero und Nama will hold a memorial event in !Nami≠nûs (formerly known as Lüderitz), Namibia, to commemorate the victims of genocide crimes committed by the German Empire. The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), which has been advocating on behalf of the descendants of the genocide victims for many years, will accompany the event. “The German Federal Government never acknowledged this terrible crime as binding under international law. It is still refusing to pay reparations and is hiding behind a flimsy ‘joint statement’”, criticized Roman Kühn, Director of the STP, in Göttingen today. “Together with the recognized representatives of the Herero and the Nama, we are calling on German politicians to live up to their historical responsibility and take up direct talks with the representatives of the victims!”

The memorial event will last several days around April 22 – the day on which, in 1905, Lieutenant General Lothar von Trotha ordered the Nama to be annihilated. The program includes speeches, discussions, and cultural events. In this context, the leaders of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) will unveil a memorial stone for the victims – on Shark Island, where, at the time of the genocide, the most dreaded concentration camp of the German colonial troops was located. The memorial stone was funded by the STP, at the wish of the victims’ associations.

STP Director Roman Kühn and Namibia expert on Nadja Grossenbacher will take part in the event too. “We are grateful for the trust that the victims’ associations have placed in us. Together, we will fight to try and persuade the German Federal Government to put aside the ‘joint statement’ and to enter real negotiations with the descendants of the victims. Further, we are demanding the German Federal Government to issue a sincere apology to Namibia and to restitute all the remains of members of the Herero and the Nama to their descendants,” Kühn added. 

Two years after Germany’s last government negotiated the so-called ‘joint declaration’ with the Namibian government, it has still not been ratified by the Namibian parliament. The draft mentions that the atrocities could be seen as a genocide, but it does not acknowledge them as crimes of genocide in a way that would be binding under international law. In consequence, no reparation payments are planned. Instead, Germany is offering a formal apology as well as development cooperation payments adding up to 1.1 billion euros over the course of 30 years. Several leaders of the Ovaherero and the Nama had strongly criticized the exclusive government talks from the very beginning, as they were not granted an own representation independent of the government.