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Germany apologises, agrees to pay Namibia $1.3bn over colonial-era genocide

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Germany yesterday formally agreed that it committed genocide against the Herero and Nama ethnic groups over 100 years ago in the then German South West Africa, now Namibia.

Berlin accordingly offered to support Windhoek and the descendants of the victims with $1.3 billion (€1.1 billion) for reconstruction and development.

Tens of thousands of men, women and children were shot, tortured or driven into the Kalahari Desert to starve by German troops between 1904 and 1908 after the Herero and Nama tribes rebelled against colonial Germany.

But German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas yesterday asked for forgiveness for the “crimes of German colonial rule.”

“Our goal was and is to find a common path to genuine reconciliation in memory of the victims,” Maas said in a statement.

He added: “This includes naming the events of the German colonial period in what is now Namibia and in particular the atrocities in the period from 1904 to 1908, without sparing or glossing over them.

“We will now also officially call these events what they were from today’s perspective: a genocide.”

Namibian presidential press secretary Alfredo Hengari told CNN yesterday that his country saw the formal acceptance of the atrocities as genocide as a key step in the process of reconciliation and reparation.

“These are very positive developments in light of a very long process that has been accelerated over the past five years. People will never forget this genocide; they live with it. And this is an important process in terms of healing those wounds,” he said.

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