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19 Jul 2004 08:44
Germany’s ambassador to Botswana has rejected calls for reparations from Herero people who were victims of an extermination campaign under German colonial rule 100 years ago.
Ambassador Hans-Dietrich von Bothmer told a gathering of Hereros in a village in northwest Botswana on Sunday that while Germany regretted “this unfortunate past”, it was not prepared to offer compensation.
He said that Germany had given Namibia 500-million euros in aid since 1990 to benefit all Namibians. Von Bothmer went on to say that “it could not be justified to compensate one specific group”.
The ambassador’s remarks prompted an angry response from an Herero activist, who berated him for failing to make amends for the atrocities.
“I was disappointed that we did not get an apology today, [Sunday]” said Stephen Kazeire Raurau, a lawyer and Herero community activist.
“We want something for reconstruction in Botswana today to bring back our young Herero people into our culture so that they can proudly say we are Herero,” he said to strong applause.
More than 1 000 Hereros from Namibia, Botswana and South Africa were gathered in Tsau to commemorate the 100th anniversary of their uprising against German colonial rule.
Thousands of Herero fled to Tsau from neighbouring Namibia, then known as German South-West Africa, after an extermination order was issued to crush the uprising of the Herero.
German colonial ruler Lothar Von Trotha issued the order in 1904, launching a campaign that left about 65 000 of the 80 000 Herero dead.
While the German ambassador did not offer compensation, he made it clear that Berlin was seeking to open a new chapter in relations with the Herero.
There are about 120 000 Herero in Namibia and about 70 000 in Botswana.
“I, on behalf of the German government, want to reach out a hand of friendship, solidarity and reconciliation to the Herero people of Botswana,” he said.
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