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Namibian Protesters Storm Parliament, Criticize German Genocide Compensation


FILE - People protest in Windhoek, Namibia, May 28, 2021. Germany had just reached an agreement with Namibia to officially recognize as genocide the colonial-era killings of tens of thousands of people and commit to spending $1.3 billion, largely on development projects.

Namibian activists and opposition members stormed parliament this week over a deal with Germany to atone for a colonial genocide more than a century ago.

Opposition lawmakers also called for a renegotiation of the deal, in which Germany has agreed to fund about $1.3 billion in development projects over 30 years to redress land taken and tens of thousands killed from 1904 to 1908. Critics said the amount was insufficient.

Activist Sima Luipert vowed legal action if the Namibian parliament approved a bill accepting the deal. She said the deal, which the Namibian and German governments reached in May, violated the participation and informed consent rights of the ethnic Ovaherero and Nama peoples.

Hundreds gather

Luipert was one of about 300 protesters at the Namibian parliament Tuesday objecting to the bill. Some in the group jumped over gates to voice their opposition.

The Landless People’s Movement, which led the protest, said it wanted to ensure opposition to the bill was heard. Group spokesman Eneas Emvula said, "Part of the people that walked this long journey to parliament, from Katutura, alongside Independence Avenue, are actually members of parliament and leaders of the opposition political parties within parliament.”

Namibian Vice President Nangolo Mbumba said everyone has a right to protest. But he also underscored that opponents of the deal who wanted direct compensation would not get it.

“People thought because this is a genocide negotiation issue, the descendants of those communities, the victims, they would now be compensated individually," Mbumba said. "The Jewish people were being compensated as survivors; so are the Mau Maus. We are talking after 117 years, if you count from 1904. It is four generations already.”

Supporters say the agreement, which took years to negotiate, is acceptable for an atrocity committed by a Germany that existed before World War I.

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