MEMBERS of an extreme right-wing German group in Windhoek have stepped up their campaign to spread fascist propaganda in Namibia. Last week the neo-Nazi group started distributing bogus leaflets using the letterhead of the well-respected Namibian-German Foundation. Some neo-Nazis also attempted to disrupt a meeting organised foundation last week. Last Wednesday members of the public who attended a panel discussion on "The Holocaust - Legacy and Challenge" at the Namibian-German Foundation, once again found pamphlets containing pro-Nazi propaganda on their cars. But, to the shock and disgust of those attending, the neo-Nazi propaganda was written on the Namibian-German Foundation's letterhead.
The Namibian-German Foundation is not only well-known for promoting cultural co-operation between Germany and Namibia, but also for encouraging discussion on topics of
interest and relevance to most Namibians. When approached for comment on the use of the foundation's letterhead by the extremist group, Dr. Henning Melber, the foundation's chairperson, said the issue and possible action would be discussed by the board of the Namibian-German Foundation this afternoon.
According to Melber, extreme right-wing Germans in Namibia became active and started distributing leaflets about a year ago, shortly after the foundation started addressing such issues. Melber said this proves that right-wing Germans suddenly felt provoked.
"Their reaction shows that we are in the offensive. They are reacting to what we are doing."
On the issue of using the letterhead, Melber said it seems like a leaflet from Germany was copied onto the foundation's letterhead and then distributed. He described this as "not being very creative". Some neo-Nazis were present at the panel discussion on the Holocaust on Wednesday evening. According to one of the panelists, Katja Berker, the group consisted of three elderly men, two young men and a young woman. Berker said it was obvious from the beginning of the meeting that they were neo-Nazis. "One was wearing a T-shirt which had written on it "Hitler's Europa Tour 1933-1945" (Hitler's European Tour 1933-1945).
Berker described the atmosphere at the Namibian-German Foundation that evening as "tense and aggressive due to the presence of the Nazis". "It was a feeling of us against them."
Berker said the extremists tried to argue that six million had not died during Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jews and other groups. "Suddenly one got up and started about how the holocaust never happened. This angered the rest of the audience and they told him to leave. He refused and Dr. Melber told him to stop or to leave. At this stage a scuffle started and they (the neo-Nazis) all left the building." Melber confirmed that one of the right-wing Germans pushed him against the chest during the altercation. Melber is currently recovering from a serious car accident and is still wearing a neck brace.
A SMALL but extremely offensive group of right-wing extremists have emerged in Namibia recently - defacing posters for the Anne Frank Exhibition, distributing bogus leaflets and most recently disrupting a meeting at the Namibian-German Foundation. That certain people still choose to deny a historically proven fact, such as the Holocaust, is almost beyond comprehension, and they should not be allowed to influence the youth into a renewal of racism in the form of anti-semitism. Namibia has a constitution which prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, colour or creed and a Prohibition of Racial Discrimination Act which makes incitement to racial hatred a crime. We should not hesitate to pursue actions based on law against such fanatics if they continue to make a public nuisance of themselves.
Their presence at a recent meeting of the Namibia-German Association panel discussion on the Holocaust, appeared to be a deliberate attempt to disrupt the proceedings and antagonise participants. Added to this, their use of the letterhead of the Namibian-German Foundation for their filthy right-wing propaganda also constitutes an offence.
The policy of reconciliation in Namibia leaves no room for elements such as these who are intent on propagating their twisted views to all and sundry. If they persist these people must be identified and taken to task by the courts for their actions. One cannot deny any person the right to hold whatever views they deem necessary, as long as these do not make inroads upon the rights of others. Neo-Nazis clearly fall into the latter category. Their denials of history are nothing more than expression of pure racism. While their focus is anti-semitism, such racists are also anti-black and a threat to national reconciliation and development in Namibia. Their odious propaganda should not be allowed to take root in Namibia. If this tendency is allowed to grow, their actions could turn from leaflet dropping to more sinister and violent actions. Many of these people would have been prosecuted if they lived in Germany, where those who propagate the Nazi cause in any manner face tough action. We suggest that there is no place for them in Namibia either, and call on them to desist in their intimidatory tactics. Aggrieved persons should also not hesitate to take matters further legally if their rights are being abused by the likes of such fanatics.
Namibia has endured years of racism under colonial rule. With independence we have turned our backs on racism. A small group of fascists should not be allowed to put back the clock.
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