Sunday, July 18, 2004

Germany avoids Herero reparations

Germany has rejected calls to pay compensation for the killing of thousands of Namibia's ethnic Hereros during the colonial era. The German ambassador to Botswana told a gathering of Hereros in northern Botswana that Germany deeply regretted what he called "this unfortunate past". However, he said it was not prepared to offer reparations.

Some 1,000 Hereros were there to mark the killing of their ancestors who rebelled against German rule in 1904. They used the meeting to renew demands for $4bn in compensation, to be paid by the German government and by companies who they say benefited from slavery and exploitation under German rule.

But Ambassador Hans-Dietrich von Bothmer said German development aid was intended to benefit all Namibians, not just one ethnic group. Correspondents say Mr von Bothmer's speech was virtually identical to one delivered by his counterpart in Namibia, Wolfgang Massing, at a previous ceremony in January.

Between 35,000 and 105,000 of the Hereros living in Namibia lost their lives in the 12 January 1904 massacre, while thousands of others fled to neighbouring Botswana.