WINDHOEK – Last week’s breakthrough resolution by the European Parliament on Europe’s colonial crimes in Africa is a major shift in the moral compass of that continent, a Namibian academic observed.
“As we welcome this resolution, we hope it will bear significant political pressure on Germany to acknowledge the Ovaherero and Nama genocide, apologise and pay reparations,” said Professor Mutjinde Katjiua, spokesperson of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA).
“Africa has suffered materially, culturally and psychologically through genocides, mass killings and expropriations. The world is becoming a better place for humanity and Europe must come on board,” he further said.
According to the Daily Mail, a British daily middle-market newspaper, the European Parliament last week overwhelmingly backed a watershed resolution that is calling for reparations for crimes committed in Africa during European colonialism.
It is estimated that 100,000 Ovaherero and Nama people were killed between 1904 and 1908 as a result of a mass extermination policy initiated by German colonial troops in then South West Africa, now Namibia, when the territory was a German colony.
The Ovaherero and Nama people had since filed a lawsuit in January 2017, suing Germany for excluding them from current negotiations between the German and Namibian governments concerning the 1904-1908 genocide committed here.
However, earlier last month U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan dismissed the lawsuit, saying that Germany was immune from claims by descendants of the Herero and Nama tribes, depriving her of jurisdiction over its role in what some historians have called the 20th century’s first genocide.
Lawyers representing the Ovaherero and Nama in the lawsuit filed a notice of appeal in the United States (US) Court of Appeals, following a dismissed class-action lawsuit filed by the two communities in the US Federal Court in New York for alleged crimes against humanity. According to the Daily Mail the bill urges European member states to introduce a series of sweeping reforms aimed at tackling ‘structural racism’ facing millions of Afro-Europeans. It calls on the countries to implement nation-wide strategies to deal with discrimination in education, health, housing, policing, the justice system and politics.
The resolution - approved by 535 MEPs, with 80 votes against and 44 abstentions - also calls on European member states to declassify their colonial archives, covering the most disturbing periods of Europe’s colonial past, and issue public apologies.
It urges the EU to adopt ‘a workforce diversity and inclusion strategy’ to address the underrepresentation of ethnic minority officials. As it stands, the EU does not share data on race, ethnicity or religion because it’s considered contrary to equality, The Guardian reports.
The text is not legally binding, but it was hailed as a watershed moment by campaign groups for specifically focusing on the discrimination faced on the continent by an estimated 15 million people.
‘Histories of injustices against Africans and people of African Descent – including enslavement, forced labour, racial apartheid, massacre, and genocides in the context of European colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade – remain largely unrecognised and unaccounted for at an institutional level in EU member states,’ the text states.
The resolution was drawn up by British Labour MEP Claude Moraes and was inspired by the racist behaviour experienced by Italian socialist MEP Cecile Kyenge, who served as Italy’s first black government minister.
Pressure is now on the European Commission to fund the schemes in the EU’s next seven-year budget.
Amel Yacef, the chair of the European Network Against Racism, told The Guardian the vote was ‘a historic, watershed moment for the recognition of people of African descent in Europe’.
She added: ‘The European Parliament is leading the way and sending a signal to EU member states to tackle structural racism that prevents black people from being included in European society. The ball is now in their court: we need concrete action plans and specific measures now.’
2019-04-02 09:21:35 19 days ago