What really happened during Namibia’s fight for independence? Sadly far too many terrible events took place. Many were inflicted by South Africa’s apartheid government. But others by the liberation movement itself – SWAPO.
Paul Trewhela – a liberation fighter himself – has drawn our attention to the appeal from Eric Beukes for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Nambia.
I am posting Paul’s introduction, followed by the appeal by Eric.
Please see the appeal in the two attachments sent to me today by Erica Beukes, in Windhoek, whom I know as a steadfast, truthful and reliable fighter for the liberation of Namibia.
There are extensive references to Erica and her husband Hewat in my book, Inside Quatro: Uncovering the Exile History of the ANC and SWAPO (Jacana, 2009). Erica and Hewat were of great help to me when I visited Windhoek in February 1990, seeking documents about loyal Swapo members who had been killed, tortured and imprisoned by Swapo in exile. There is a significant amount about Hewat in the autobiography by his brother, Hans Beukes, Long Road to Liberation: An Exiled Namibian Activist’s Perspective (Porcupine Press, Johannesburg, 2014).
There was no Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Namibia. Nor did the Swapo leadership appoint any commission of inquiry into its own massive human rights abuses in exile comparable with the generally truthful and honest Stuart Commission (1984), Skweyiya Commission (1992) and Motsuenyane Commission (1993) appointed by the ANC on its own behalf, prior to the convening of the TRC after the ANC formed the first post-apartheid government under President Mandela.
The unjustly persecuted victims of Swapo’s manic purges in exile – especially after Swapo leaders ruthlessly acted to conceal their previous military and political alliance in southern Angola with Unita, led by Jonas Savimbi – have clearly been treated in a far worse way in independent Namibia than the unjustly persecuted victims of Mbokodo in the ANC in exile.
I discussed this issue in an article, “The criterion of truth in southern Africa”, published on Politicsweb (16 April 2012), available here:
I ask you please to read the two attachments in the spirit of former People’s Liberation Army of Namibia commander and former Police Commissioner for Northern Namibia, Nghiyalasha Haulyondjaba, as set out in my article above.
“The trouble inNamibia is we don’t want to tell the truth,” Commander Haulyondjaba stated bravely in an interview, which I report. “‘Until when must we go on hiding? You can’t hide things forever. If something happened, it happened. Some people suffered unnecessarily (during the liberation struggle). Let’s tell the truth.”
Letter of the COMMITTEE OF PARENTS and THE TRUTH& JUSTICE COMMITTEE
firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 061-260 647 P.O. Box 3349 Windhoek
1 March 2016
The Secretary General of the United Nations
Section on Human Rights Abuses.
THE PRESIDENT OF NAMIBIA
THE LUTHERAN WORLD FEDERATION
THE COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN NAMIBIA
THE FIVE WESTERN POWERS – USA, GERMANY, GREAT BRITIAN, CANADA, FRANCE
Continued Human Rights Abuses
The above two Committees were brought about by effected Namibians, whose family members and Comrades suffered and died at the hands of the SWAPO Party, while in exile. These abuses continue today, albeit in a different form, as survivors of these abuses on their return to Namibia after independence, continue to be marginalized and prejudiced at Government Institutions in various ways etc.
- The former fighters are being discriminated against and humiliated by the SWAPO Leadership in every conceivable way.
- They are refused veteran status and therefore cannot overcome the continued hardship the SWAPO leaders are bringing onto them.
- They are called derogatory and degrading names etc. South African Agents, Puppets of the South African Regime, Imperialist Agents, Spies and Counter Revolutionaries
In the light of the above and the general discrimination against this group, we demand that the wrongs that we have suffered and continue to suffer be rectified.
We want the SWAPO Party and Government to categorically declare that we were not South African Spies of the South African Regime and to stop the vilification of our names and personalities. They have poisoned the communities from where we come and is sowing division amongst our families and communities.
SWAPO must rectify the falsified history of 1976 call for a congress which SWAPO called a rebellion. It is important for us that this denunciation be done for us, our children, our families, the people from the villages and towns we come from, the broader Namibian nation and the world at large.
The Committee of Parents came to know about the atrocities in the SWAPO camps in Exile in Angola and Zambia’ after reports surfaced from delegates to a SWAPO meeting held in Lusaka in September 1984. We at that time learnt about the difficulties experienced by the youth of 1976 and that this had been ongoing since that call for a Congress in 1976. They were allowed and aided to continue with their atrocities by the governments of Zambia and Tanzania, and later Angola. The lucky ones that were able to flee these atrocities in Tanzania and Zambia, eventually found refuge in Kenya. These are the people that SWAPO is continuing to purge and persecute to this day.
We therefore demand the following:
- The clearance of our names.
- Reparations for suffering and the losses that we have incurred due to the action of the SWAPO leadership and their allies.
- Counseling to offset the effects of years of hunger, thirst and pain that we suffered for the sake of liberation
- Our names be cleared in Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and the world at large
- The our role in the liberation be recognized internationally.
- That the monies that were expropriated from us in Zambia in 1974, be reimbursed to us with interest.
- A reputable, impartial commission of enquiry to be instituted to investigate the abuse of Human Rights of Namibians in exile in Angola, Zambia and Tanzania.
- The Namibian Parliament passes a Bill of National Reconciliation for the Whole Nation to rectify the wrongs of the past.
- Most importantly, we want the SWAPO Leadership, the Governments of Angola, Zambia and Tanzania, The United Nations Refugee Department, The Lutheran World Federation and the Council of Churches in Namibia, to declare the whereabouts of our missing and unaccounted for people that vanished in exile.
We also hold the 5 Western Powers that brokered the so-called “Liberation Deal”, accountable for their devious role in the whole episode.
Furthermore we will expose to the Namibian People, and all working people in the different countries about the “cover-up” by churches and Human Rights Organisations as well as Donor agencies and donor Countries Norway and Sweden.
The youth and the Namibian People in particular the Working People of today must be informed about the atrocities and how these organizations played a leading role in “covering up” these abuses thus distorting the true history of our country.
These revelations and the true history of our country must not be lost to the youth and future generations. We cannot build a truly free and democratic Namibia while there are still so many outstanding matters on which the perpetrators of gross human violations continue to keep silence.
It is important for our youth to know the true history in order to avoid an occurrence, which is slowly starting to come to the fore.
Together with the support of the same agencies and countries like before the SWAPO regime is driving this country to a very dangerous and oppressive situation.
We attach our Joint Declaration hereto.
We await your response to our letter by 26 March 2016.
ERICA BEUKES ………………………………………………..
JOHN AMUTHENU ………………………………………………..
On behalf of the Committee of Parents and The Truth & Justice Committee
The Committee of Parents
The Truth & Justice Commission
email@example.com tel: 061-260 647 P.O. Box 3349 Windhoek
PROGRAMME OF DEMANDS AND ACTION
We demand the following:
- The immediate disclosure of the whereabouts of the missing persons under the SWAPO terror in exile prior to independence by the SWAPO and the United Nations Organisation: the continued concealment of this information is a crime against humanity.
- The disclosure of the manner of death, the burial sites and the return of the remains of our relatives killed in exile by the SWAPO leadership.
We undertake the following action:
- The initiation of a Truth & Justice International Inquiry to determine the full political circumstances around the mass killings in exile and the political facts around the victims and their persecutors including the role of the churches, governments and the Anti-Apartheid Movement including the continued relations at present. This is necessary for justice to the victims and defence of the Namibian Nation in particular the working people. Our relatives who lost their lives and who found themselves accused as spies and collaborators with the enemy shall have the justice of the truth.
The Committee of Parents was formed in 1884 to fight against the jailing in holes, torture mass murder of Namibians in Angola and Zambia by the SWAPO.
We attach hereto copies of articles in “The Namibian” newspaper of 21 and 28 February 1986 which comprehensively set out the beginnings of our struggles against the forces which sought to exterminate our people and to protect and assist the murderers of SWAPO politically.
At independence in 1990 the SWAPO together with the United Nations Organisation and the Red Cross would only divulge a small part of the facts about the tragedy. They refused to divulge the scale of the mass murder and the whereabouts both of the remains of our murdered relatives and the missing survivors. At present we still do not know whether the missing survivors are still alive.
As time went on the SWAPO continued with its accusations against our relatives while increasingly more and more openly discriminating against survivors of 1976, PLAN fighters and Youth League members, who had exposed the corruption and collaboration of the SWAPO leadership with the South African colonial Apartheid regime.
As a result of the struggle of the Committee of Parents more than 300 persons were rescued from a certain and brutal death at the hands of the SWAPO leadership, and they were allowed by the United Nations to return home.
The exposed organisations such as the Anti-Apartheid Movement went silent, but their members dispersed in other organisations where they continue to imperialist work of protecting and supporting the SWAPO in an underhand manner against the rights of the Namibian working people and the self-determination of the nation.
The SWAPO since 1990 started to establish itself as an institution of liberation and promulgated the Veterans Act of 2008 in which they equate themselves as the liberation struggle and bestowed benefits on mostly a new group of loyalist and opportunists.
They continue to slander former PLAN and Youth League survivors who were opposing them politically and morally.
Persons are shown away from the Veterans Ministry accused as ‘spies’.
The SWAPO bestow ‘Veteran’ status on former police spies and collaborators of South Africa in exchange for their support. SWAPO parliamentarians are infested with such persons. Collaborators who have killed Namibians under protection of South Africa are honoured and awarded ‘Veteran’ status.
We call on the workers movement in Namibia and internationally, all true democrats and decent people to support our demands and efforts for seeking restitution and to establish the truth in the national struggle. We seek in particular that justice be done to the victims, that their remains are returned and the truth around the workers’ struggle from the 1971/72 General Strike through the struggle for unionism from 1980 and the truth around the slander and murder of working class leaders in exile be uncovered.
We undertake to set up a Truth & Justice Commission immediately and we call for persons with untainted reputation to join our Commission for an inquiry to establish the truth around SWAPO’s activities in exile and locally.
25 February 2016.