By Donna Collins
SWAKOPMUND activist Laidlaw Peringanda who heads the ‘Back to Germany’ movement, has opened a case with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to lobby for the removal of the historic German marine war statue.
After filing a complaint with the ICC justice department in the Hage, Netherlands, he received a letter on Monday stating that he had a valid case, in which it was confirmed that an investigation has been opened. The prosecutor of the ICC and the head of information and evidence unit noted the case number.
The Marine-Denkmal memorial is located in front of the President’s summer residence in Swakopmund, and was officially proclaimed a national monument in 1969.
The Marine monument in question depicts a soldier slumped over a rock holding a rifle, with a man standing over him. It was erected to pay homage to German marine troops who lost their lives in German/Herero war in 1904.
In fact Laidlaw had called to have the monument removed last year already; but during a protest in August when he covered the statue, the Namibian police stopped him in his tracks and issued him with a warning.
“I was just drawing public awareness for the removal of the statue, and wrote a letter to the Ombudsman, the PM and the Office of the President, but no one came back to me,” said Laidlaw, adding that the Namibian authorities let him down. Laidlaw who claims to be the son of both German and Herero stock, feels strongly against the presence of the statue. “By parading a statue which is a symbol of the suffering and bloodshed of the Herero nation, is shameful and humiliating.
“I have a lot of German friends, and I am not a racist, but the truth of the genocide is something we must not ignore because thousands of innocent Hereros were slaughtered and it is still painful.”
He claims that the ICC will undertake an independent investigation into the removal of the statue, saying that this is a “breakthrough” and his fight to have his voice heard has not been in vain.
Laidlaw also said that he would like to see the statue taken down by December 10, which is National Human Rights Day. He also said that the Germans can take their statue back to their own country and put it in a museum over there.
“They in turn must send back all the remaining Herero skulls and human parts which they tested in their laboratories, as well as the results of the research which the German scientists conducted on my people.”
On the other hand members of the Germany Swakopmund community are outraged by this latest incident, saying that every country in the world has a history and a past, and by tearing down the statues and historic sites will not change what has happened. Margit D’Avingnon, secretary Swakopmund Residents Association said with the German architectural and historic memoires, Swakopmund has became the quaint coastal town tourist and holiday destination, which in turn creates jobs and opportunities. “Let us not dwell on the past, but rather enjoy the fruits of the future together and celebrate a country that has been created by all of us.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015