By Simon Liseli
CONCERNED residents of the Caprivi region whose petition was turned down in April by the Namibian government as a pro – secessionist, recently conducted their first –ever public meeting on June 3 in Caprivi region.
The concerned group made up of 40 members held the meeting aimed to clear out the false stories and misinterpretations created around the banned peaceful demonstration that was supposed to take place on April 13, 2012 in Katima Mulilo.
The meeting was witnessed by newly appointed Caprivi Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Bollen Sankwasa and other members of the state intelligence.
Mr. Edwin Samati, one of the members, lambasted at the State media (New Era) over an article it published in which it wrote that the organisers of the demonstration were diehard secessionist inspired by events in Zambia, Mali, Syria and Libya.
He pointed out that the peaceful demonstration was intended to demand justice, to denounce social injustice and curse any political humiliation.
“We have been falsely portrayed as violent men. On the day of our botched demonstration, fully armed security forces were dispatched around NBC local radio station aiming to shoot and kill us. False war suspicions were created and spread by state security agents linking it to us” said Mr.Samati.
He said unscrupulous media reports alleged that people are living in fear of an armed attack at anytime by the Caprivi Liberation Army.
“The Caprivi Regional Council interrogated us with death and related threats were hurled at us”
According to Samati, the group is more concerned about the refugees’ population from Caprivi, political prisoners and twenty-one (21) people who died while under detention.
He warned those on a campaign to vilify them, will have their plans backfire on them and called for a peaceful solution to the Caprivi political conflict before we resolve to go for street protests every Sunday.
“A referendum on the Caprivi’s political dispute does not mean secession of the strip. Calling us diehard or pro-secessionists will not solve anything. The younger generations have been robbed of proper parenthood and are suffering socially, economically and psychologically because of the dispute”.
Mr .Samati called on concerned individuals, families, institutions and organizations to publicly call on the government of Namibia to seek a settled solution to the dispute.
“Do the concerned officials know that they are causing political interference in Caprivi high treason trial by stretching the trial length of those political prisoners? May they GRN please unconditionally release these detainees” he begged.
“We are here to reiterate our humanitarian political call, to exercise our democratic rights which were denied to us earlier and also to nature our fragile democracy. We are here to advice the government of Namibia on an issue which largely concerns every Caprivian” Samati lamented.
“We do not hesitate to once more again suggest or rather demand for a political dialogue between President Lucas Hifikepunye Pohamba and Mr. Albert Mishake Muyongo the president of UDP.”
He added saying ,Calling for unconditional release of all Caprivi political prisoners and a referendum on the political dispute are all in context based on provision of the supreme law of Namibia.
He however echoed that the revival of CANU must send clear messages to the SWAPO-led government that ignorance, arrogance and aggression does not wash any stain and that SWAPO must know that silence is not always consent.
“Calling for a peaceful political solution to a political dispute is never a crime, time has come to wear shoes of political prisoners and those in exile so that they understand the need to them, how much we love them and contribute to finding lasting solution once and for all in whatever amount or form” he furthered.
Prime Minister, Nahas Angula told the State Television (NBC) that the government allowed the Caprivi Concerned Group to have their public meeting to exercise their democratic right.
Currently about ten (10) Caprivi secessionists were convicted of treason in 2007 and sentenced to more than 30 years. However, the judge ruled in 2009 that the 10 could appeal to the Supreme Court against the length of the sentences they received.
The “trial within a trial” is a hearing that began in April 2009 to determine the admissibility of allegedly self-incriminating statements made by 26 of the defendants before various magistrates.
In September 2010 the Supreme Court turned down a request by the state to appeal part of a judgment in which presiding High Court Judge Elton Hoff ruled that alleged confessions made by 26 of the men being prosecuted in the treason trial cannot be used as evidence against them.
In January Judge Hoff ruled evidence linking four suspects to the 1999 secessionist attempt was inadmissible.
Defense attorneys had argued the men who were assaulted by police and not informed of their right to legal assistance at the time of their arrests.
The Supreme Court justices called for the speedy resolution of the trial, now in its seventh year.