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Germany apologizes for colonial-era genocide in Namibia

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(Last Updated On: May 28, 2021)

Germany apologized on Friday for its role in the slaughter of Herero and Nama tribespeople in Namibia more than a century ago and officially described the massacre as genocide for the first time, as it agreed to fund projects worth over a billion euros.

Namibia’s President Hage Geingob welcomed the “historic” move, but Herero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro dismissed a deal agreed by the two governments as “an insult” because it did not include payment of reparations.

Instead, Germany will fund 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) of reconstruction and development projects in Namibia, which German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said would directly benefit the genocide-affected communities.

“That’s a black cat in the bag instead of reparations for a crime against humanity,” Rukoro told Reuters.

“No self-respecting African will accept such an insult in this day and age from a so-called civilized European nation.”

German soldiers killed some 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama people in a 1904-1908 campaign after a revolt against land seizures by colonists in what historians and the United Nations have long called the first genocide of the 20th century.

While Germany has previously acknowledged “moral responsibility” for the killings, it had avoided making an official apology for the massacres to avoid compensation claims.

In a statement announcing an agreement with Namibia following more than five years of negotiations, Maas said the events of the colonial period should be named “without sparing or glossing over them”.

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

“In light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims for forgiveness.”

Namibian media reported on Thursday that the funds promised by Germany would support infrastructure, healthcare, and training programs over 30 years.

Namibia’s president Geingob welcomed the move as a “step in the right direction”, his spokesman told Reuters.

“The apology on the part of Germany and acceptance there was a genocide is in itself historic and speaks to the moral responsibility Germany has towards Namibia and the communities affected by the first genocide of the 20th century,” Alfredo Hengari told Reuters.

Germany, which lost all its colonial territories after World War One, was the third biggest colonial power after Britain and France. However, its colonial past was ignored for decades while historians and politicians focused more on the legacy of Nazi crimes, including the Holocaust.

Sima Luipert, 52, who identified herself as of Namibia’s Nama people, said Germany should not have directed its apology to the Namibian state, which did not exist at the time of the genocide and was given no mandate to speak to Germany on behalf of traditional authorities.

“Germany must come to the Nama people, and to the Herero people, and to ask for forgiveness,” she said. “It is up to us to decide if that apology is genuine or not.

“This is not about money, it is about the restoration of human dignity.”

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Guarded by ex-inmates, Kabul’s Pul-e-Charkhi Prison lies deserted

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Afghanistan’s infamous Pul-e-Charkhi Prison, which once housed thousands of Islamic Emirate forces and Daesh fighters in its sprawling compound on the outskirts of Kabul, today stands virtually empty, except for the remnants of prisoners’ belongings and discarded documents.

On August 15, as the Islamic Emirate drove into Kabul following the fall of the previous government, the gates to the prison were flung open – ending in some cases years of incarceration for many detainees.

The once heavily fortified facility is now guarded by former inmates – Islamic Emirate members – and only a small section is used for new inmates, alleged criminals and drug addicts arrested in the past month.

A walk through the deserted cell blocks is a stark reminder of the recent changes in the country.

In some cells, personal items that once belonged to prisoners lie forgotten about, and discarded documents are testimony to the unexpected collapse of the former Ashraf Ghani government.

In parts of the prison, signs of the Islamic Emirate flag remain, as does the black flag of Daesh.

One former prison guard, Safiullah, told Ariana News: “There is no one, you can see, they have generally destroyed many places and left.”

While the majority of political prisoners were Islamic Emirate members, no differentiation was made when the gates opened. As a result hundreds of Daesh fighters also fled, as did some hardened criminals.

During the walk through of the facility, Safiullah also pointed out areas that were used for specific purposes.

“This was a Madrasa where the Islamic Emirate’s Qaris [teachers] were teaching students to memorize the Holy Quran. We set up this Madrasa for them,” Safiullah said.

One former inmate, an Islamic Emirate member Mohammad Salim, in turn pointed out the section used by prison guards to mete out punishment.

“They punished us here; they tied our hands here and punished us and beat us here,” said Salim.

Islamic Emirate authorities have however said that they are working to recapture and return some former inmates – especially hardened criminals – to the facility.

Pul-e-Charkhi has a long, disturbing history of violence, mass executions and torture.

Mass graves and torture cells were uncovered dating from the Soviet-backed governments of the late 1970s and 1980s and under the former government it was known for poor conditions and overcrowding.

The prison’s 11 cell blocks were built to house 5,000 inmates, but were often packed with more than 10,000, including political prisoners and hardened criminals.

Some of the Taliban now guarding the site were former inmates while the former guards have fled.

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UN envoy, Haqqani discuss urgent need for humanitarian aid

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Deborah Lyons, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, has met with Sirajuddin Haqqani, the new acting interior minister, to discuss much needed humanitarian relief for Afghanistan.

Suhail Shaheen, an Islamic Emirate spokesman, said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday: “(Haqqani) stressed that UN personnel can conduct their work without any hurdle and deliver vital aid to the Afghan people.”

Afghanistan was already facing chronic poverty and drought but the situation has deteriorated in the last month with the disruption of aid, the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers, the freezing of foreign reserves and the collapse of much economic activity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an international aid conference this week that Afghans were facing “perhaps their most perilous hour”.

The UN mission in Afghanistan said that in the Wednesday meeting Lyons had stressed the “absolute necessity for all UN and humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to deliver vital aid and conduct work for the Afghan people.”

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Baradar says reports he was hurt in internal clashes are false

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Afghanistan’s acting deputy prime minister Abdul Ghani Baradar appeared in a video interview posted on Wednesday and denied reports that he was hurt in a clash with a rival faction of the Islamic Emirate.

“No this is not true, I am OK and healthy,” Baradar said in an interview with state TV which was posted on Twitter by the Islamic Emirate’s political office in Doha.

“The media says that there is internal disputes. There is nothing between us, it is not true.”

The brief clip showed him seated on a sofa next to an interviewer with an RTA state television microphone in front of him, apparently reading from a sheet of paper.

Earlier, an official from the cultural commission said on Twitter that the interview would be shown on RTA TV to disprove “enemy propaganda.” Islamic Emirate officials have issued repeated denials in recent days that Baradar had been hurt.

The denials follow days of rumors that supporters of Baradar had clashed with members of the Haqqani network, a group affiliated with the Islamic Emirate based near the border with Pakistan and blamed for some of the worst suicide attacks of the war.

Baradar, one of the founding members of the Islamic Emirate and once seen as the likely head of government, had not been seen in public for some time. He was not part of the ministerial delegation which met Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Kabul on Sunday.

In the clip, he said he had been on a trip when the visit took place and had not been able to get back in time.

On Wednesday, Anas Haqqani, younger brother of the newly appointed Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, also issued a statement on Twitter denying reports of internal rifts in the movement.

The rumors follow speculation over rivalries between military commanders like Haqqani and leaders from the political office in Doha like Baradar, who led diplomatic efforts to reach a settlement with the United States.

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