The Economic and Social Justice Trust has called on Namibian civil societies and human rights defenders to end their deafening silence in the face of the immense human suffering in the Middle East amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Trust chairperson Herbert Jauch said they see gross human rights violations and war crimes perpetrated against unarmed civilians in Palestine.
The conflict was sparked by Hamas launching an assault on Israel on 7 October, with hundreds of gunmen infiltrating communities near the Gaza Strip.
Israeli air strikes in Gaza continue that by yesterday brought the number of people killed in the besieged enclave to about 3 500, while more than 12 000 others have been wounded. In the occupied West Bank, 69 people have been killed and 1 300 wounded. In Israel, at least 1 400 people have been killed and 3 800 injured since the Hamas attack.
Jauch said his organisation cannot remain silent while witnessing a war that bears the hallmarks of a genocide.
“The relentless and indiscriminate bombings of unarmed civilians in their homes, places of worship, schools and hospitals are causing serious mental and bodily harm to members of this group,” Jauch said.
Jauch added that the current siege on Gaza denies Palestinians access to drinking water, food, electricity and life-saving medicines.
“This can only be interpreted as an attempt to wipe out those who have not yet succumbed to the injuries caused by the bombings. Under international law, genocide is a war crime that includes acts towards the killing of members of a group; incitement to commit genocide and complicity to genocide,” he said.
He said silence in the face of such atrocities could be interpreted as complicity.
“As a country that has experienced genocide, land dispossession, colonial occupation and apartheid, we cannot remain unmoved by similar experiences by the people of Palestine,” Jauch said.
Jauch agree with the Namibian government that repeated and current cycles of violence must be viewed in the historical context of a 75-year colonial occupation.
“We are convinced that a just and lasting peace can only be found by ending this occupation. As Namibians, we received international support that helped us defeat colonialism in our country,” he said.
“Now, it is our turn to show such international solidarity,” Jauch said.
He said commitments to human rights and justice must be principled and cannot be undermined by and traded for foreign donor funding.
“Many in our country have sacrificed and even died for our right to self-determination. Let us honour them by standing up for human rights and justice for Palestinians,” Jauch added.
The trust called on members of civil society to show visible and audible support for an immediate ceasefire, an end to the targeting of unarmed civilians and humanitarian access to Gaza through open corridors for essential supplies.
“We call on the government to use its membership to the International Criminal Court to ensure accountability by asking the court to issue a statement on the matter and to expedite an investigation into war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law.
“As civil society organisations committed to social justice, we cannot remain silent. History has taught us that bad things happen when good men and women do nothing. Let our silence not result in our complicity to the terrible atrocities that are happening in Palestine,” he said.
Yesterday, The Namibian reported that international relations and cooperation minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah called on Israel to stop what they are doing to Gaza and end the conflict.
On Wednesday, United Nations chief António Guterres tweeted that he is horrified by the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in a strike on a hospital in Gaza, which he said he strongly condemned.
“My heart is with the families of the victims. Hospitals and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law,” Guterres tweeted.
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