URGENT APPEAL – WHY DID CAPRIVIANS FLEE?
In 1998 over 3000 Caprivians fled to Botswana in fear for their lives during the wake of widespread persecution of all who were indeed or perceived to be supporters of Caprivi secessionist (Nationalist) movement, the United Democratic Party, and in Botswana, they were received and interviewed, and interviewed, and all qualified to be refugees there.
The president of the UDP and the traditional Chief of Mafwe people were later resettled and granted political asylum in Denmark.
Botswana, Namibia and UNHCR adopted voluntary repatriation so that those willing to return back to Caprivi may do so. The first group to repatriate returned in 1999 and through this approach over 2000 have been repatriated so far.
Since 1999, the Tripartite Committee, comprising of Botswana Government, Namibia Government and UNHCR have met the concerned refugee more than three times. At such meeting, the Commission persuaded them to return back to their home country, and refugees submitted petitions to the commission.
In a nutshell, the petitions were a repeated appeal for political dialogue between the Namibian Government and the UDP leadership over the Caprivi political dispute. This dispute is one where UDP leaders and its members say Caprivi Zipfel is NOT part of Namibia, and that the majority of Caprivian people want self-determination (and total independence from Namibia). The Namibian disputes these claims, and rejects dialogue nor referendum over it.
However, though Namibia is claiming to be peaceful, UDP, the political party to which all these refugees are members and supporters is currently banned by the Namibian government since 2006. There are mass graves in Caprivi where Caprivian killed by Namibia security forces were buried by such forces. There is evidence which suggests that some of those who repatriated between 1999 and 2005 were forced through torture to testify against over hundred Caprivi Treason suspects.
It is of importance to indicate that about 75 of these treason suspects are still in Namibian prisons since 1999 and are still suspects as their trial have not come to an end for 16 years. About 26 of them passed on while in prison.
Besides, since 2012, Caprivi Concerned Group (CCG) have also been calling for a peaceful settlement of the Caprivi dispute through dialogue or referendum but
leaders of this organisation (CCG) have been denied the right to peacefully protest and they been threatened of being arrested and charged with treason. This organisation recently submitted a petition to the Tripartite Commission in April 2015 to advice the commission on the risks of forcing refugees back home without any concession between the refugees and Namibian government. The organisation amplified the need for political dialogue before anything else because it fears that the violence which broke in 1999 or the persecutions which preceded it may repeat.
It has been reported that Botswana and Namibia have signed an agreement to revoke the refugees status of these refugees in Botswana and gave an ultimatum that by 31 December 2015 all these refugees should have been repatriated or risk deportation. You also need to be informed that among the treason suspects currently in Namibia prison, there are eight who were deported from Botswana and end up detention. The concern is that there seem to be an holy alliance among the tripartite commission members as they have chosen to set aside the interests and political opinions of the refugees. The commission is determined to forcefully repatriate them if International human rights organisations, individuals and peace loving nations will not step in. Among these refugees there are members of Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) which launched an attack in Katima Mulilo in August 1999.
A million dollar questions are:
1. Have the refugees given up their political opinions or objectives, which is their right under international law?
2. Will the government of Namibia allow the refugees to exercise their political rights and freedoms without intimidation or even persecution?
3.Why is their political party still banned? Is there any guarantee that the ban will be lifted?
4. If not, why should refugees go back to a country where their human and political rights are limited and or restricted?
5. Why can’t Namibia prove to be positive, peaceful and democratic by conceding to calls for political dialogue? Besides, if Namibia ignores the refugees’ plea/opinion outside Namibia, will it ever listen to them when they will be in Namibia?
6. If violence or persecution reoccurs in the Caprivi after repatriation, will UNHCR and Botswana take responsibility?
Above all Mr Kgathi should be reminded that,!!
Note: Bilateral relations doesn’t mean trading people’s lives even when there are reasonable grounds for thinking that, if these refugees are returned forcefully, there is a likelihood that they may be prejudiced, punished or restricted in their personal liberty by reasons of their political opinions.
The gospel of saying “its only Mr Muyongo and a handful individuals who wants Caprivi’s independence”, holds no water, as it was evident in the recent trip (Go & See), Caprivians wants their land its only that they live in fear and are restricted day and night.
Attached are some of the petitions by the refugees and CCG on this subject. It is our opinion that the peace loving people/individual, Nations and NGOs intervenes as soon as possible. Somebody said, the evil triumph when good men do nothing.
We are looking forward in seeing the decision of revoking Caprivian refugees (referred to as Namibian refugees) status reversed .
Here under included is the link for the statutes of the Republic of South Africa 1968. http://blogs.loc.gov/law/files/2015/03/Self-Government-for-Natives-Act-of-1968-No.-54.pdf
For info: www.caprivifreedom.com
Claassen John Kawana
Contact person: Caprivi Freedom Association under the
United Democratic Party (UDP)