• April 25th, 2019
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Lockerbie bombing, Pan Am 103 and their links to Namibian uranium


On the 21st of December, families of the victims of the Pan Am flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland relived the tragedy that happened 29 years ago on the 21st of December 1988, the eve of the signing of the New York Accords that provided for the independence of Namibia and the withdrawal of about 50,000 troops from Angola. The highest profile victim of the Lockerbie bombing was Bernt Carlsson, who served as the United Nations Commissioner for Namibia from 1 July 1987 until his death in the Lockerbie bombing on 21 December, 1988. One of the main responsibilities of the United Nations Council for Namibia included asserting the UN’s direct authority and responsibility for South West Africa (Namibia), which was illegally occupied by Apartheid South Africa. Prior to his appointment as the United Nations Commissioner for Namibia, the United Nations Council for Namibia had enacted Decree No. 1: “For the protection of the natural resources of Namibia under which any person or entity could search for, take or distribute any natural resources found in Namibia without the council’s permission.” Bernt Carlsson, who became the United Nations Commissioner for Namibia on 1 July, 1987 set out to ensure that Decree No. 1 was enforced and those companies found to be in violation would face legal action within the provisions of International Law. This standpoint would set him on a collision course with the capital interests of Apartheid South Africa and the big companies that refused to abide by the decree and provisions of the comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act that imposed sanctions against South Africa. In a televised documentary titled, “The case of the disappearing diamonds”, which was aired by a television network in London, John Shaetonhodi, the then president of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia, articulated the exploitation of Namibian resources for the benefit of a few, while the mineworkers remained poor, as a situation which was unacceptable, driven by greed, exploitative and thus unsustainable. In the same vein and in the same documentary Bernt Carlsson announced that the United Nations had started taking legal action against a British, German and Dutch-owned company called Urenco, which had been importing uranium from Namibia against the provisions of Decree No. 1. Asked if he would be taking action against the mining giant De Beers, Carlsson responded: “All the companies which are carrying out activities in Namibia which have not been authorised by the United Nations are being studied at present. “As far as De Beers is concerned, the corporation has been trying to skim the cream which means they have gone for the large diamonds at the expense of the steady pace. In this way they have really shortened the lifespan of the mines.” “One would expect from a worldwide corporation like De Beers and Anglo-American that they would behave with an element of social and political responsibility. But their behaviour in the specific case of Namibia has been one of profit maximation, regardless of its social, economic, political and even legal responsibility.” It was on his way to the signing of the New York Accords on 22 December, 1988 that Bernt Carlsson became the highest profile victim of the Pan Am 103 flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, for which Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was tried and convicted in a court case which many who are familiar with the history of that time call a total sham. With the death of Carlsson, according to Patrick Haseldine, ‘the case against Urenco was inexplicably dropped and no further prosecutions took place of the companies and countries that were in breach of the United Nations Council for Namibia Decree No. 1.” It is not far-fetched to suggest that the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am 103 was inextricable linked to Namibia’s uranium and that Bernt Carlsson was not only a victim but the actual target of the sabotage on that fateful day in Scotland. The Namibian government should endeavour to propose an enquiry into the death of Bernt Carlsson and to seek damages in international courts for those persons and corporations that were in violation of the decree as provided for in International Law. • Vita Angula is a Namibian historian and political commentator. This work was compiled using internet sources and interviews with Namibian political figures familiar with the history of the time and is loosely based on an article published in the Ecologist authored by Patrick Haseldine titled, Pan Am 104: It was the uranium.
New Era Reporter
2018-01-05 09:43:30 1 years ago

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