OUR RIGHTS. OUR FREEDOMS. ALWAYS.
IN COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY, 2015
Caprivi Concerned Group joins the entire world to commemorate the international human rights day. It is 67 years ago, on 10 December 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Two years later, in 1950, the Assembly passed a resolution inviting all interested states and organisations to observe 10 December as a Human Rights Day.
This year’s theme is “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” The United Nations will launch a year-long campaign for the 50th Anniversary of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.
The year-long campaign will resolve around rights and freedoms, mainly freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom from fear, amongst others, which are still as relevant as they were when the two Convenants were adopted about 50 years ago, according to UN.
Coming home, in the Caprivi Strip, it was in April 2015 when peaceful protestors who demanded verbal or written answers on their demands for plots were teargassed, shot with rubber bullets and assaulted, a situation which saw many fainting and a pregnant lady losing her pregnancy as a result of teargas suffocation. It is at this scene where staff members of Katima Mulilo Town Council were seen firing live bullets with shot guns while others were cheering the members of the police force for their aggressive conduct.
Secondly, on the 30th of June 2015, Caprivians were deported from their motherland, ordered by the Namibian government to go back to exile, accusing them of promoting secession and using subversive language against government. These Caprivians were in company of UNHCR and Botswana government representatives, in a mission to come and see how peaceful Caprivi under Namibian government is, so that they decide and influence others to voluntarily repartriate.
In August 2015, leaders of Caprivi Concerned Group and suspected supporters of the group were banned or barred by members of the Police force from attending a public meeting hosted by the Namibian President, Dr. Hage Geingob. This was reported in a newspaper, and was also directly reported to the regional Governor, Hon. Lawrence Sampofu but nothing was done.
Not so long ago, last year, November 2014, dosens of “No Vote” promotional t-shirts were confiscated by the Namibian police, and ‘No Vote” Activists were detained, stripped naked and peppersprayed by the Police. This was reported to SADC election observers and was reported on national television and in newspapers. However, government did nothing again.
It is of utmost importance to mention that in both conventions, namely the ICESCR and the ICCPR, the right to self determination is enshrined therein. These covenants, together with the UDHR form the sacred UN International Bill of Rights. All rights in the bill of rights should be respected indiscriminately. The right to self determination remains one of the most relevant right for the people of Caprivi Strip, and is mainly the reason they have been tortured, sent to exile, prison and mass graves, and even denied the freedom of speech or expression by the Namibian government.
It is against this background that we submit that the human rights situation in Caprivi Strip should be scrutinized by the international community, particularly the United Nations. Many human rights violations have been committed by the Namibian government but no state or organization have cautioned or reprimanded Namibia for such violations. Many Caprivians flew to exile fearing for their lives, many have been sent to prison, many died in prison, many were tortured, and many were buried in mass graves by the Namibian government but the international community is dead silent on these issues.
While the Caprivi High Treason trail took unreasonably too long, we appreciate the fact that it has come to conclusion and that about 50% of high treason sentences were suspended, and about 75% of the accused were acquitted. We also hope that somehow, the court or the correctional service consider deducting pre-trial and pre-sentencing years already spent in custody from the effective jail terms sentenced, despite that it was part of the mitigation arguments.
We also take this opportunity to call on the Namibian government to lift the ban it imposed on the United Democratic Party in 2006, so that Caprivians can freely and peacefully express their political opinions formally without resorting to violence again. Government should also relaxing restrictions on the public call-in radio show (open line) on Lozi Service, and allow a broader scope for political discussions instead of treating issues relating to the Caprivi political dispute as treasonous or not allowed.
All states and human rights organisations are obliged to protect or defend human rights, and should be practical to that effect, then the 50th aniversary of the ICESCR and the ICCPR will be worth celebrating.
We wish all human beings a peaceful observation of the international human rights day, 2015!
Edwin M Samati
Caprivi Concerned Group