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» 26.05.2010 - Namibia stands up to "EU bullying"
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Politics | Society

Germany pays for colonial errors in Namibia

Misanet / The Namibian, 27 May - The German government is to pay Namibian $ 160 million (euros 20 million) for "reconciliation" with its ex-colony. Germany has said it is prepared to support a long-term reconciliation programme to address the injustices of German colonial rule in Namibia about 100 years ago.

Heidemarie Wiecczorek-Zeul, Germany's Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, has announced that Germany is willing to bankroll an "initiative for reconciliation" to the tune of N$ 160 million over a period of 10 years.

The Minister made her announcement in a speech on Tuesday, when she and Bishop Zephania Kameeta received the Peter Beier Award of the Evangelical Church in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany.

Her public apology to the Herero people in August last year at the centenary of the 1904 Ohamakari battle made international headlines. The Herero people had been victims of a genocidal campaign by German colonial troops. "The process of reconciliation now needs more action to make reconciliation in fact more tangible," the German Minister said.

Talks with Namibian stakeholders and the Namibian government were now underway to create an initiative for reconciliation, Ms Wiecczorek-Zeul said. An intended reconciliation committee was to include not only representatives of the Herero people, but also of the Namas and Damaras, other victims of the military campaigns in 1904-07.

Representatives of the Namibian and German governments were to be responsible for the initiative. The funds that Germany is prepared to allocate will be used for development projects in areas mainly inhabited by Herero, Nama and Damara people.

The German-Namibian reconciliation committee - including representatives of Namibian civil society and churches - however was to decide on criteria for the allocation of funds for projects.

Some representatives of Namibia's Herero people - which lost most of its strength, property and livelihood during the 1904-07 war - have earlier called for large cash pay-out to compensate for the war crimes committed 100 years ago. Many other however have stated they would be satisfied with an official recognition of the genocide crimes committed, including an apology.

Ms Wiecczorek-Zeul was the first German Minister ever to apologise for the cruel war crimes committed by German colonial troops in August last year. She however failed to mention the word "genocide". Since the apology, German officials have discussed several ways of offering some kind of compensation to the affected peoples of Namibia.

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