Editor’s note on genocide
We thank the Ministry of International Relations and Corporation for its thoughtful response on this subject.
We would, however, want to state that we stand by the information in the article given to us by various sources. The Windhoek Observer has faithfully reported information submitted for our consideration.
We are concerned that the letter from the ministry regarding our article speaks of the event in Germany as a “meeting to agree on the Joint Framework of negotiations which should be agreed upon by the two governments…”
We interpret that to mean that the session we are discussing was a preliminary meeting set up to set the stage for the upcoming series of official negotiations.
But, we have understood that the recent session was in fact, the first round of the official negotiations with the second round scheduled for November. Either the event was a preparatory meeting to agree on the framework or it was the first official session in the negotiations process; it cannot be both.
Our sources are clear that for the Germans, who came with the relevant experts and scholars, it was in fact, the first session in the official negotiations. Could this lack of clarity about the nature of the first event be a reason the Namibian team may have appeared less prepared to address the German counterpoints?
We also question whether in this case, just as in the negotiations around UN Resolution 435, where SWAPO was designated as the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people, and lesser pretenders to representation of Namibians proffered by the South Africans at that time were rejected, why the representatives of the majority in the affected communities are not an integral and decision-making part of this genocide negotiation process.
It has been a widely expressed concern that the representation by co-opted groups speaking the views of only a minority of the affected communities, may not give government the legitimacy needed in this matter as decisions are being made on behalf of a wider, larger community that is not represented (regardless of the reason for this situation).
We question whether this gap is providing the Germans an opportunity to challenge the role of our sovereign government as the correct vehicle for redress with the legal standing needed to finalize compensation discussions in the context of the genocide negotiations.
Many of those close to the negotiation process dispute the claims that international law would be violated if Germany negotiated directly with the people affected by the genocide. Perhaps further clarification on this point would clear the air.
In summary, our sources seem concerned that there appears to be fear that the genocide negotiations will give the affected communities access to their rightful claims to any benefits emerging from the negotiations. Therefore, side-lining the representatives of the majority of the affected communities could be interpreted as a way of undermining their claims to a part of the national cake and repressing the legacy of genocide as a whole.