15 April 2015 KatimaMulilo/Caprivi Strip
The Tripartite Commission
On Caprivian/Namibian refugees
The Honorable Representative
P O Box 288
Tel: +267 395 2121
Fax: 267 317 0996
RE: CALL FOR POLITICAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN GOVERNMENT OF NAMIBIA AND THE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP OF CAPRIVIAN REFUGEES
We understand clearly that a refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of nationality and can’t return due to a well-founded fear of persecution because of his or her race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
We wish to clarify thatCaprivians ran to Botswana in 1998 due to well-founded fear of persecution by the Namibian government because of their political opinion and membership to a particular social or ethnic group, as leaders and members of the United Democratic Party (UDP). Hence, they were (and are) duly recognized as refugees by Botswana, UNHCR and Namibia respectively. It is also important to mention here that the president of UDP, Hon. MishakeMuyongo, and the traditional Chief of Mafwe, His Royal Highness Boniface Mamili are all in exile.
So far, these leaders and members of UDP,duly referred to as Namibian refugees, have not denounced their political opinion or objective of an independent Caprivi Strip. On the other hand, the virtual persecutor, who they ran from, who is the Namibian government have not stated whether or not the political opinion of concerned refugees is still construed as a crime and/or treason.
Furthermore, UDP is currently banned by the Namibian government and over 70 Caprivians are currently on a treason trial, in which the state committed itself to prove before the court that the August 2 1999 armed attack was planned and carried out by the UDP and its alleged military wing, Caprivi Liberation Army. The trial has been going on for about 16 years now.
We acknowledge that this issue is deeper and complicated than the eye can see. People have been executed and buried in mass graves by the Namibian government, some attained permanent injuries while others (about 26) were poisoned and killed in Namibian prisons over this issue. We are their children, we are their relatives, and we are the members of the society they belong to. Complicated it seems, any solution which comes without concessions or tangible changes on fundamental points of contention may not hold or be durable.
Concerned refugees have acknowledged and suggested a political dialogue between UDP leaders and the Namibian government in order to peacefully resolve the political dispute which is keeping them in Botswana as refugees. All stakeholders should be cautioned against overlooking and deflating the refugees’ political opinion and suggested solutions. Mutual respect and understanding is the beginning of peace.
While it is important to relieve Botswana and UNHCR from the refugees’ burden, it is equally important to prevent history from repeating itself, andrespecting Caprivian people’s universal right to self-determination as stated in the first Article of the UN Charter (1945) and other international statutes. The passing of time without necessary and correct interventions cannot change attitudes or opinions of rival groups, organizations or institutions, nor can it kill peoples’ political rights.
However, we fully support the belief and condition by Botswana government that refugee status should not be a lifetime status. This does not in any way mean that refugee status can be arbitrary revoked because of time alone, but that whatever problems (dynamics) causing people to flee from, and not willing to return to, their countries should be effectively resolved by sovereign authorities in such refugees’ country of origin and all responsible agencies or organizations in time.
We do not expect Botswana or any other country to eternally carry Namibia’s burden when Namibia is deemed democratic and politically capable to address her political problems.Former President of Namibia, H.E HifikepunyePohamba was recently honored and awarded as the winner of 2014 Mo Ibrahim Award for good governance in Africa. The current president, who was the Prime Minister of Namibia during the exodus of refugees to Botswana, has credentials in democracy and governance.
We understand that UNHCR was established to protect, help and represent refugees irrespective of their race, social group or political opinion. We therefore expect the agency to mutually listen to, and respect political opinions of both sides and make an informed decision to help all.
For a country to have refugees in neighboring country is really an embarrassment to that country, but again to send these refugees back to that country without undertaking effective interventions to address issues which led them to flee, in the first place, is a risk for both the refugees and that country. Chances are that they will be persecuted and flee again, or violence may erupt.
All in all we are saying, the three recommended “durable solutions” are not durable and applicable in the Caprivians’ refugee case given its political background. We believe that integration will interfere with, or totally deny them, their universal right to self-determination, whereas resettlement will only sent them far away from their family compared to the proximity of Botswana their current host country.
We do not reject voluntary repatriation but we also have evidence that most high treason prisoners and state witnesses are Dukwi returnees who came back through the same voluntary repatriation. Most of them who were repatriated are unemployed.
However, in support of our submission, we herewith attach some documents, to this petition, to be confirmed or denied (disputed) by the Namibiangovernment before UNHCR and Botswanaconsiders forcefully repatriating concerned refugees through threats“cessation clause”;grant them lifetime refugee status by virtue of resettlement; or eternally deny Caprivians their universal right to self-determination through “integration”. The attached documents may serve as references or evidencesuggesting that:
- Namibia is illegally governing Caprivi Strip and her people.
- There are mass graves of Caprivians who were executed and buried secretly by Namibia government in 1999
- UDP was and is still banned by the Namibian government, a party to which these refugees all belong
- Namibian government continues to violate human rights of Caprivians,
Against this background, on behalf of all members, supporters and sympathizers of the undersigned individuals and organizations, we reject plans of implementing the three UNHCR’s preferred durable solutions on Caprivian (known as Namibians) refugees currently hosted by Botswana in the absence ofa political dialogue, and therefore demand a political dialogue between the Namibian government and the political leadership of the refugees to find an eternal solution to the Caprivi political dispute.
|Caprivi Concerned Group|
|Caprivi African National Union|
|National Democratic Party|
Cc: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Geveva
All correspondence to be addressed to the Secretary General, Caprivi Concerned Group