WINDHOEK: Namibia is to launch a 30-billion-dollar (28-billion-euro) lawsuit against Germany over genocide committed during colonial rule, when tens of thousands of people were killed, according to documents seen by Agence France-Presse on Friday.
The Namibian government has previously avoided demanding financial compensation, but it changed its stance as two indigenous groups filed a class-action suit in New York City against Germany.
Legal documents provided to AFP and The Namibian newspaper show that the government has engaged lawyers in London to pursue a case of violation of human rights and a “consequent apology and reparations process.”
Over 65,000 people are believed to have been killed when colonial Germany massacred Namibian tribes such as the Herero and Nama between 1904 and 1908.
Namibian Vice President Nickey Iyambo issued a statement on Friday saying it had sent a report to Germany last year on the genocide, an official apology and reparations.
“We trust the government of the federal republic of Germany is giving serious attention to the position,” Iyambo said, giving no details on the level of reparations sought.
Namibia could approach the International Court of Justice in The Hague to advance its case, the documents show.
While some German officials have acknowledged a genocide occurred, the government has refused to pay reparations, saying aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 25 years was “for the benefit of all Namibians.”
Germany seized the territory of modern-day Namibia in the late 19th century under Otto von Bismarck, as part of the so-called Scramble for Africa by European colonizers.
It was called German South West Africa during Germany’s 1884-1915 rule, and then passed under South Africa rule for 75 years, finally gaining independence in 1990.
The separate US class-action suit was filed by the Herero and Nama people in New York on Thursday, seeking compensation for “incalculable damages.”
They are also demanding to be included in negotiations between the two countries.
Tensions boiled over in 1904 when the Herero rose up, followed by the Nama, in an insurrection crushed by German imperial troops.