Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Herero to file atrocity claims against Germany

It was reported today in the Mail and Guardian (South Africa) that the Namibian Herero are to file atrocity claims against Germany. A four-billion dollar claim against Germany and two firms for alleged atrocities committed against Namibia's Herero people in colonial times may go to court within two months, The Namibian daily reported on Wednesday. The German government, Deutsche Bank and shipping company Woermann Line (now known as SAFmarine), stand accused of forming a brutal alliance "to commit atrocities and exterminate more than 65,000 Hereros between 1904 and 1907". The full article reads:

Herero to file atrocity claims against Germany

Mail and Guardian Online / SAPA , 22 January 2003 14:23

A four-billion dollar claim against Germany and two firms for alleged atrocities committed against Namibia's Herero people in colonial times may go to court within two months, The Namibian daily reported on Wednesday.

The German government, Deutsche Bank and shipping company Woermann Line (now known as SAFmarine), stand accused of forming a "brutal alliance" to commit atrocities and exterminate more than 65 000 Hereros between 1904 and 1907.

Germany colonised Namibia in 1884 and prime grazing land was given to whites, leading to bloody wars with local tribes. In 1904, German General Lothar von Trotha issued an extermination order, stating that "every Herero, whether found armed or unarmed, with or without cattle, will be shot."

The Herero People's Reparation Corporation is now charging in court that two German companies helped the Berlin government to relentlessly pursue the enslavement and genocidal destruction of Hereros.

Herero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako told The Namibian that the corporation was still awaiting the final dates for the court case. But he added that the two cases could be heard in the United States, where the Herero People's Reparation Corporation is registered, in March or April.

The two cases -- the first against the government and the second against the two companies -- are worth two billion dollars each. The papers before the court stated: "The defendants and imperial Germany formed a German commercial enterprise which cold-bloodedly employed explicitly sanctioned extermination, the destruction of tribal culture and social organisation, concentration camps, forced labour, medical experimentation and the exploitation of women and children in order to advance their common financial interests."

The claims were originally also made against a third German manufacturing company, Terex Corporation, but were withdrawn after Terex claimed it was under different management at the time of the alleged atrocities.

The Herero is a collective term for a group of tribes -– the Himba, Herero, Tijimba and Mbanderu -- and there are more than a 100 000 Herero people living in Namibia, southern Angola and Botswana.

Sapa-AFP