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Police disrupts UDP freedom march

By Staff Reporter

 THE Namibian police in Katima Mulilo disrupted a first-ever freedom march organised by members of the United Democratic Party (UDP) on Monday, when they were trying to conduct a peaceful demonstration.

UDP Members ready for peaceful demonstration at Katima Open Market

The aim of the protest march was to deliver the petition to the Regional Governor Alufea Sampofu which was addressed to the Namibian president Dr. Hage Geingob.

However, in a stampede the Namibian Police dispersed the protesters when they were trying to have a peaceful demonstration to hand over their petition to Zambezi governor Sampofu on October 28, 2019.

This came after the group decided to assemble themselves at Katima Mulilo Open Market, located at the centre of the town holding placards and singing chanting songs calling for the total independence of the Caprivi Strip (now re-named as Zambezi Region).

The demonstrators are former refugees who were forcibly repatriated from Botswana’s Dukwi refugee Camp in September  this year after the Botswana court of appeal passed the judgement that they were illegal immigrants in that  country.

Chairperson of UDP Mr. Bothman Ntesa told Caprivi Vision that when they were deported back in September this year they objected to fill in repatriation forms because they were given conditions to reject views of self- determination or denouncing UDP membership.

“We came back as UDP members, Zambezi regional commander denied us a peaceful demonstration, we issued a notice in his office at first but he didn’t even gave us a response so we had to follow when we realized that there was no answer, secondly we said we are going to do it because it is our right” he said.

When they were denied to demonstrate on 22 October 2019 they went to seek for advice from the Ministry of Justice who gave them access to approach the office of the Ombudsman where they were told that their notice   did not go through because it was lacking requirements like some reasons why they were to demonstrate.

“We considered that advice and rewrite the notice and delivered it to the office of the regional commander through his secretary” he added.

Mr.Ntesa pointed out that on Monday the police went to the Open Market where they were gathering preparing for the demonstration and after all they approached the police and that is when they were told that their peaceful demonstration was unlawful because they didn’t meet requirements.

“The reason why we want to demonstrate is to forward our petition and all along we have been requesting for Namibian government to at least afford our party UDP or its leadership to have a peaceful solution to Caprivi issue not telling people that they are no problems in Caprivi while problems exist only that there is a barrel of gun that is intimidating people and people are living in fear” explained the Chairperson.

He further said that they are five (5) other refugees who remained in Botswana and were told by the administration of Dukwi refugee camp that they are most wanted by the Namibian authority.

“They were saying that when those people come at the border they will be arrested and put into prison” stressed Mr. Ntesa

Efforts to hear from the police regional commander Karel Theron proved futile as his phone remained unanswered.

Their petition quoted as follows:  “To: 

H.E Dr. Hage Geingob

President of Namibia

By hand to / through: 

Hon. Alfea Sampofu

Regional Governor

Zambezi region

And by fax to: +264 61 221 770

Your Excellency,

  1. In July 1890, Caprivi Strip became a German sphere of influence, not necessarily to become part of German South West Africa.
  2. In June 1908, German High Court in Windhoek (Namibia) failed to convict suspected poachers who were arrested in Caprivi Strip in possession of elephant tusks because German (SWA) law had no validity in Caprivi Strip.
  3. In 1963, Caprivi African National Union (CANU) was formed to advocate and fight for the independence of Caprivi Strip.
  4. In 1963 again, Chief Moraliswani and Chief Mamili petitioned the United Nations (UN) to seek the independence of Caprivi Strip.
  5. In June 1964, then President of (CANU) was in Zambia to mobilize the international community and UN support for Caprivi to be independent.
  6. In July 1964, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) adopted a resolution to respect colonial boundaries, with reference to the uti possidetis principle.
  7. In November 1964, CANU entered into a merger with SWAPO to fight against a common enemy, the South African occupation in South West Africa (Namibia) and in Caprivi Strip.
  8. In September 1965, Caprivians protested against CANU-SWAPO association at Kongwa refugee camp in Tanzania, and some Caprivians were sent to prison for that.
  9. In 1980, CANU leadership was expelled from SWAPO executive leadership because they attempted to revive the main objective or mission of CANU.
  10. In 1982, as Head of UNIN in Zambia, and an executive member of SWAPO, you said Caprivians are very few to be independent but people can discuss the issue after independence.
  11. In October 1998, Caprivians fled to Botswana to seek refuge as they feared security crackdown on them after it became clear that they want to be independent from Namibia.
  12. In June 1999, Namibia extended its laws, which previously never applied, to apply Caprivi Strip by enacting Act 10 of 1999.
  13. In August 1999, many Caprivians were arrested, tortured and killed in connection with the armed uprising by Caprivians, an event believed to have been a reaction against Act 10 of 1999 to defend their territory, in terms of the castle legal principle.
  14. At the start of the main Caprivi treason trial in 2004, the Deputy Prosecutor stated in his opening statement that the suspects were not brought before court because of their political opinions or beliefs but for an attempt to overthrow government through force or violence.
  15. In September 2006, then Deputy Minister of Information, Rafael Dinyando, announced through a press conference, the ban of United Democratic Party (UDP), banning it from holding public activities.
  16. In December 2015, about 30 Caprivians were sentenced for treason and related charges, after having already spent 16 years in prison, and they have been in prison for 20 years already by now.
  17. Between September and October 2019, Caprivians in Botswana were deported despite that they indicated that they were not willing to come home if UDP remains banned and Namibia resists political dialogue with UDP.
  18. For many years now, UDP have been appealing to government of Namibia to resolve the Caprivi political dispute peacefully through dialogue and a referendum.
  19. We know and understand that the right of people to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law, regarded as jus cogens, a norm from which no derogation is permitted.
  20. Today, the 28th of October 2019, we reaffirm our position that we still believe that Caprivi Strip is legally not part of Namibia; that majority of Caprivians want Caprivi Strip to be free and independent; and that we have the right to self-determination.
  21. Therefore, we demand:
  22. A political dialogue between UDP and Government of Namibia
  23. A UN supervised referendum on the Caprivi political dispute
  24. Unconditional release of all Caprivi political prisoners
  25. We believe that in such a dialogue, the following will be discussed and agreed upon:
  26. Legal and political issues between UDP and Namibian government
  27. Legal framework, conditions and modalities for the referendum
  28. Please, accept our firm assurance from the rank and file of UDP that we highly value, and strictly subscribe to, peace.
  29. We hope to receive a formal response from your esteemed office within five (7) working days.

God bless you.

_________________

Bothman Ntesa (+264 81 430 7706)

On behalf of UDP

Katima Mulilo, Caprivi Strip”

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