Genocide does not lapse - German MP
New Era - 2006-09-01
WINDHOEK: Visiting German parliamentarian Hüseyin-Kenan Aydin says liability for the crime of genocide does not lapse, either morally or legally.
In a strongly-worded speech, Aydin accused the German government of being perfectly aware of the fact that genocide does not lapse.
"The German Federal Government is aware of this, and that is why it is also trying to wriggle out of acknowledging the genocide committed against the Herero and Nama," he charged.
Aydin represents The Left Party in the German Bundestag, his party having won 8% of the national vote in the last German elections.
He is the party's spokesperson on the parliamentary Committee for Economic Cooperation and Development in the Bundestag.
He was speaking at the Red Flag commemoration at Okahandja recently, where he sharply condemned the fact that no German state had paid reparations in recognition of the crimes committed during the 1904-08 Herero-German war.
It was not acceptable, he said, that the Federal Republic of Germany as the legal successor to Imperial Germany had failed to live up to its responsibilities towards the survivors of the genocide or their descendants.
The argument that is used against paying reparations is that those crimes were committed generations ago and have now become history.
"This is true. But it means no more than that one German government after another has ignored the suffering of the Hereros and denied its own responsibilities," he said.
The German Bundestag adopted a motion in 2004 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Waterberg.
He however feels the text of the motion avoids any clarification of the historical circumstances, and passes over more issues than it addresses.
"The motion of 2004 is not a document of reconciliation, but an affront to the victims of German colonialism.
"I think that official acknowledgement of the genocide is overdue in Germany. I also consider it to be essential that a readiness to provide material redress finally be signalled," Aydin argued.
He endorsed the legal action the Herero People's Reparations Corporation has brought against Germany and the three companies that profited most from colonialism in Namibia.
"It is shameful that the representatives of the Herero have actually been forced to resort to the courts by the dismissive attitude of the German state," the Left Party representative said.
German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation Heidenmarie Wieczorek-Zeul, speaking at the 100th anniversary of the Herero-German War in 2004 openly acknowledged that genocide had taken place.
Aydin said that "this brave speech" awakened many hopes, which the German government has since unfortunately disappointed.
"The least that could have been expected would have been an offer of open, fair dialogue with the representatives of the Herero.
"But nothing of the kind has come to pass. It cannot be right for reconciliation initiatives to be announced unilaterally over the heads of the people concerned," a disappointed Aydin said.