Namibian groups slam US for snubbing anti-racism Conference

Windhoek- Namibia (PANA) -- Several NGOs in Namibia have criticised the US over its threat to boycott the World Conference Against Racism opening Friday in Durban, South Africa.
The US has warned it would shun the UN Conference because of the reference to Zionism as a form of racism and the demand by African countries for reparations for slavery and human rights violations during colonial era.
"It is clear now that the US government only pays lip-service to the world by claiming to be the champion of democracy.
Now we have seen its true colour," declared Pohamba Shifeta, Secretary General of Namibia's National Youth Council.
The National Society For Human Rights has also condemned Washington for its position on reparations.
Asked for his reaction, the Director of Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Windhoek, George Kopf said: "We are the most democratic nation in the world, but that does not mean we have to agree with every thing".
He insisted that the US was still going to decide whether or not to send a delegation to the conference, adding: "We are still deciding".
Although Kopf agreed that racism was still prevalent in the US, he blamed this on the economy.
"We have disadvantaged blacks that have not yet caught up with whites economically," he said.
A Namibian delegate to the conference said on condition of anonymity that the US always "equated its power with a licence to dictate to the whole world".
"They (US) think they can dictate the agenda of the Conference.
I am glad that they tried but to no avail," the delegate added.
A black American, Charles Sharpton said in Windhoek that the world should know that "blacks in the US are still experiencing racial discrimination every day.
Racism is not ancient history, but well and alive in the US both in its foreign and domestic policy".
Meanwhile, the British High Commissioner to Namibia, Brian Donaldson told PANA Thursday that his country would attend the Conference.
He said the Foreign and Commonwealth Minister, as well as Home Minister were already in Durban.
"But the issue of (compensation and reparation) is causing us great difficulty," Donaldson said.
He added: "While we acknowledge that slave trade and exploitation were evil, we cannot re-write history," he argued.
Britain, the US and Germany are believed to have been lobbying for support against compensation to former colonies.

30 august 2001 18:14:00




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