U.S. Court to Hear Reparations Lawsuit Against German Government Over Colonial-Era Genocide In Present-Day Namibia

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A federal court in New York is the venue in which a colonial-era genocide of over a century ago is being adjudicated. Germany is being made to answer for its legacy of atrocities in the former colony of German South West Africa, now known as Namibia. Indigenous people in Namibia, descendants of the victims of genocide, filed a suit against Germany in federal court in New York, demanding reparations for the mass murder of more than 100,000 people, in what amounted to the beginning of the bureaucratized killing of the 20th century, and a precursor to European genocide of the Second World War.

The complaint (pdf) in the class action suit was filed in January 2017 on behalf of the Ovaherero and Nama peoples of Namibia “for damages resulting from the horrific genocide and unlawful taking of property in violation of international law by the German colonial authorities during the 1885 to 1909 period,” in what was then South West Africa. The complaint also reads that the purpose of the complaint is to “enjoin and restrain the Federal Republic of Germany from continuing to exclude plaintiffs and other lawful representatives of the Ovaherero and Nama people from participation in discussions and negotiations regarding the subject matter of this Complaint, in violation of plaintiffs’ rights under international law, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People to self-determination for all indigenous peoples and their right to participate and speak for themselves regarding all matters relating to the losses that they have suffered.” The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 with a majority of 144 states favoring the treaty, and four countries — Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States — opposing it.

As the plaintiffs make the case in their complaint, their communities suffered when more than a quarter of their land — 50,000 square miles — and the cattle that formed the basis of their survival were seized without compensation by the German colonists. Colonial authorities looked the other way during the “widespread and systematic rape” of Ovaherero and Nama women and girls, and the use of forced free labor.

After learning they would be sent to concentration camps and the rest of their land confiscated, the Ovaherero rose up in 1904, followed by the Nama the following year. “The uprising was crushed by German Imperial troops under the command of General Lothar von Trotha, who announced that his goal was to annihilate the Ovaherero people. His orders were effectively carried out, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 Ovaherero and Nama, with the remainder thrown into concentration camps under atrocious and sub-human conditions, where there was an extraordinarily high death toll, and the survivors who were well enough to stand were forced to work as forced/slave laborer. The surviving women were subjected to systematic rape and other abuses,” read the complaint.

The victims say that Germany entered into negotiations with the Republic of Namibia after decades of denying the German imperial authorities had committed genocide and refusing to consider reparations and compensation. Then Germany excluded representatives from the Ovaherero and Nama peoples, those who were the victims of the atrocities, and refused to admit that its actions constituted genocide, even after condemning Turkey for its genocide by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians in World War I. This suit, which seeks unspecified damages, was filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a 1789 law often used in human rights cases which grants jurisdiction to U.S. federal courts over “any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” Last month, Germany — which has paid over $70 billion in reparations to the Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust by the Nazis — sought dismissal of the case by the Namibian victims of genocide. This, after ignoring the lawsuit, attempting to send back the court papers and claiming a violation of its sovereign immunity. Germany has acknowledged it committed the atrocities, but the nation has refused to pay reparations for the genocide, arguing instead that it has given millions of euros in development aid “for the benefit of all Namibians” since that country’s 1990 independence from South Africa.

Bill Fletcher, Jr., the former president of TransAfrica Forum, thinks the class action suit is very important. “What a lot of people don’t recognize is that the German genocide against native peoples in what is now known as Namibia is something historians have pointed to as a prototype for the Holocaust against the Jews,” Fletcher told Atlanta Black Star. Fletcher noted three things that are noteworthy here, the first being that any genocide must be publicized lest it can be justified and repeated. The second point is that the Namibian genocide paved the way for the Nazi German Holocaust. The third is that genocide is an international phenomenon, including in the Western Hemisphere, where 80 percent of the indigenous population was eliminated through diseases, wars and other causes, and in the Congo, where Leopold II of Belgium murdered 10 million people over a 10-year period. An important context, Fletcher says, is there is a genocidal gene in capitalism. “That genocidal gene can make its appearance in the most unusual of circumstances. It happens largely in the racialization of populations and them being rendered irrelevant,” he said.
Although the litigation has not reached a final dispensation, what is clear is that the United States is a little-known venue for cases involving international human rights violations, including those who seek reparations for genocide. What is also certain is Germany can no longer ignore and turn a blind eye to its legacy of genocide against the people of Namibia.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Stamping Out Hunger…No Stomping on Hunger!!!

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I lived in the woods north of Santa Cruz, CA. for part of the summer in 1978.  The rest of those five or six months (it was California) I either lived on the beaches north of the town or was on the road.  Living was cheap and living was easy.  Mostly, my friends and I had to stay a couple steps ahead of the cops and away from the straight and rich white folks.  We weren’t alone in that.  I lived off of fifty bucks worth of food stamps per month and money I made doing odd jobs.

Image result for food stamps

Image: ABC11

Then it was off to the grocery store and then back to the camp in the woods or on the beach.  Since fifty dollars didn’t really cover a person’s food costs even then (and even though we ate lots of beans, rice, cheese and potatoes), we usually pooled our resources with other folks living in the encampments, conjuring up some dandy meals of the aforementioned foods.  Spices can work wonders, as any cook knows.

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CDC Denies Banning Words; Rights Group Projects Disputed Terms Onto Trump D.C. Hotel

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The Human Rights Campaign, working with artist Robin Bell, projected words like “fetus” and “transgender” onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night, to protest the words being included on a “forbidden” list circulating at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A Washington Post report says staff were instructed not to use the words in budgetary documents.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the CDC, has denied the report, calling it a “complete mischaracterization” of conversations about the annual budget. The CDC says that the words are not banned and that the organization remains “committed to our public health mission as a science-and evidence-based institution.”

According to the Post, high-level officials at the CDC were told not to use seven words — diversity, entitlement, evidence-based, fetus, science-based, transgender and vulnerable — while writing documents connected to next year’s budget.

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Stossel: Departments Grow and Cherries Rot

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Most folks have no idea what federal agencies do. John Stossel reports on wasteful programs like the Agriculture Department forcing farmers to let cherries rot…

John Stossel investigates what government agencies actually do and finds out that your tax money goes to ridiculous things.

The Agriculture Department actually forces farmers to dump cherries on the ground so you pay higher prices at the supermarket.

President Trump wanted to cut the budgets for many government departments – like the Commerce Department and the Agriculture Department. But Congress increased spending on the very departments Trump wanted to cut.

Departments that almost nobody knows what they even do.

Ed Stringham, President of the American Institute for Economic Research, tells Stossel about how the Agriculture Department even forced one farmer to dump cherries on the ground and let them rot. The government wanted to keep the price of cherries higher, which helps some cherry farmers.

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Jeff Sessions Just Revived a Policy Nobody Supports

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Every day, law enforcement officials across the United States seize cash from motorists stopped at the side of the road. It’s called “civil forfeiture,” and the stories of abuse are legion: over $17,000 seized from the owner of a barbecue restaurant in Staunton, Virginia; over $13,000 seized from a former church deacon in DeKalb County, Georgia; and over $50,000 seized from a Christian rock band in Muskogee County, Oklahoma.

Civil forfeiture allows government to seize property based on the mere suspicion that it is connected to a crime. For instance, the fact that the cops think someone has too much cash is enough to warrant a seizure. After the property is seized, in a complete reversal of the way the American justice system is supposed to work, owners must prove their own innocence to get it back.

Public outrage over the practice has grown as more tales of abuse have been reported. And fortunately, over the last three years, 24 states have passed reforms to protect property owners and curtail civil forfeiture. Less fortunately, on Wednesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new federal policy that threatens to undermine those reforms.

Speaking in a small conference room surrounded by law enforcement officials, Sessions announced the federal government was rolling back a Holder-era policy that had sharply curtailed so-called adoptive seizures. An adoptive seizure occurs when a state police officer seizes property and then transfers it to the federal government, which then forfeits the property under federal law. Importantly, state law enforcement gets to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of the forfeiture.

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President Trump Angry about Flynn Leaks

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Image: Time Magazine

After the messy and high-profile resignation of Michael Flynn, the president and at least one key congressional Republican have directed their ire at the leaks that exposed the now-former National Security Advisor’s clandestine conversations with Russian officials. “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) echoed the president’s concerns.

“I am going to be asking the FBI to do an assessment of this to tell us what’s going on here because we cannot continue to have these leaks as a government,” he told Fox News.

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Why Is It So Hard to Reduce the Pentagon Budget?

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Until Americans let go of the urge to go and do whatever they want with the military, overspending is here to stay.

It’s not that that budget has never been reduced. At pivotal moments, like the end of World War II as well as war’s end in Korea and Vietnam, there were indeed temporary downturns, as there was after the Cold War ended. More recently, the Budget Control Act of 2011 threw a monkey wrench into the Pentagon’s plans for funding that would go ever onward and upward by putting a cap on the money Congress could pony up for it. The remarkable thing, though, is not that such moments have occurred, but how modest and short-lived they’ve proved to be.

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