Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro has described as “disappointing and disheartening” the US Supreme Court’s decline to hear a petition to revive a lawsuit seeking damages from Germany for atrocities and property seizures committed by its colonial authorities against the Ovaherero and Nama between 1904-1908.
“This marks the end of our legal campaign in the courts of the US, but most certainly not the end of our struggle to achieve restorative justice for our people. It is merely a lost battle for now, but the war for justice, equity, dignity and restoration shall continue unabated,” Rukoro said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The decline by the US court on Monday comes after the Second Circuit in September last year tossed out the suit after finding that a proposed class action seeking to represent members and descendants of the Ovaherero and Nama people could not overcome Germany’s sovereign immunity because they had not proved that
money used by the country to purchase property in New York could be traced back to wealth it accumulated by seizing property from the Ovaherero and Nama.
The lawsuit filed by the Ovaherero and Nama people in January 2017 sought to force Germany to pay reparations for the enslavement and genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama at the hands of Germany’s colonial authorities from 1885 until 1909 in what is now known as Namibia, as well as for the alleged seizure without compensation of “countless” cattle.
But in affirming a New York court’s decision dismissing the suit, the Second Circuit concluded that the proposed class action had not made a strong enough case that the money obtained by the German colonial authorities more than a century ago went into the country’s coffers.
“The terrible wrongs elucidated in the plaintiffs’ complaint must be addressed through a vehicle other than the US court system,” the panel said.
Rukoro said in light of the recent diplomatic
and legal developments, they shall now escalate their campaign at the diplomatic front by
ensuring that the United Nations (UN), the
African Union (AU), the key world powers
and African governments are sensitised with the view to declare that what happened to their ancestors pursuant to Lothar Von Trotha and Theodor Leutwein’s extermination orders was genocide as understood by the world community.
“Germany is a war criminal, unless it is prepared to enter into meaningful negotiations with the
true and legitimate leaders of the victim communities and not selectively hand-picked royal houses’ chiefs’ representatives,” Rukoro stated. He added that he is considering an alternative legal opinion, including but not limited to approaching other legal jurisdictions – both local and international – including Germany, to ensure that justice is achieved.
“We reiterate our total and unreserved rejection of the racist and neo-colonialist so-called ‘reconciliation and reconstruction’ agreement between the German and Namibian governments with the contempt it deserves,” he said. “We call upon our opposition political parties and also those Swapo MPs who remain true to the values and ethos of the liberation struggle to reject this reactionary and sell-out, unequal imposition where the descendants of the Nama and
Ovaherero genocide victim communities are represented by their own freely chosen leaders - not proxy in any shape or form”, Rukoro
Meanwhile, in a declaration signed with the Namibian government, the German authorities said they “accept a moral, historical and political obligation to tender an apology for this genocide, and subsequently provide the necessary means for reconciliation and reconstruction”.
Germany has also committed to allocate N$18 billion to fund projects in the country over 30 years. – email@example.com