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Germany close to accord with Namibia over colonial mass murder

Germany close to accord with Namibia over colonial mass murder
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Germany said on Monday it is close to an agreement with Namibia for the mass murder of tens of thousands of indigenous people when it was the colonial ruler over a century ago.

During 1904-1908, Namibia was the German colony of South West Africa. German colonisers brutally suppressed uprisings against the Herero and Nama peoples.

Historians say German Gen. Lothar von Trotha, who was sent to what was then German South West Africa to put down an uprising by the Hereros in 1904, instructed his troops to wipe out the entire tribe. The order also affected smaller tribes.

Historians say that about 65,000 Herero people were killed and at least 10,000 Nama people.

In the Battle of Waterberg in August 1904, around 80,000 Herero fled including women and children. German troops reportedly went after them across what is now known as the Kalahari Desert. Only 15,000 Herero survived.

Failed past talks

Germany opened talks with the Namibian government in 2015 on a “future-oriented reappraisal of German colonial rule.” It has signaled its readiness to make compensation payments.

“We are in the home stretch on this issue,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse told reporters in Berlin.

Sasse said another round of talks was held in Berlin last week and negotiations have been “very constructive” recently, but said she couldn't give further details because both sides have agreed to maintain confidentiality until the process is complete.

In 2004, then-Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul traveled to Namibia and offered Germany’s first apology for the killings, which she said was “what today would be labeled as genocide.” Germany’s Foreign Ministry has described the killings as genocide in recent years.

Sasse said representatives of the Herero and Nama have been involved in the negotiations, though Germany's direct dealings have been with the Namibian government.