Caprivians want autonomy
Namibian refugees residing in Botswana have demanded that an independent body must prove whether or not Caprivians want to be part of Namibia and that those who are on trial for a separatist armed attack in 1999, be tried as political prisoners and freedom fighters.
In a petition submitted to a tripartite commission consisting of the Namibian and Botswana governments and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) this week, the group also demands that the United Democratic Party be unbanned and that discussions take place between government and Mishake Muyongo, the president of that party.
“We demand that Caprivians be granted their rights to associate and pursue their political belief. We demand for a referendum organised by the United Nations. In the interest of peace, Caprivian people shall continue to seek and appeal for an amicable approach to their political issue. The road to freedom is not easy but we are determined and courageous to face any challenges,” the group said.
The group which consists of 1000 people, said there is no peace in the region as claimed by government.
“…we would like to mention that we have nothing to do with the agenda of repatriation or the so-called peace in the Caprivi. We are not to be told that there is peace in the Caprivi, we are not waiting for that. When Caprivi shall be free from Namibian occupation, then we will be in a
position to experience peace in the Caprivi,” the refugees said.
“… the Caprivians in exile would like to inform the government of Namibia which is ruling the Caprivi by force, the government of Botswana, the UNHCR office in Botswana representing the United Nations, and the international community, that we are not in Botswana by mistake or chance, but to liberate our motherland Caprivi,” the petition further reads.
According to the group, previous meetings held with the tripartite commission over the past 13 years had proved futile because they failed to address the political “crisis” on the ground in the Caprivi strip. The meetings were aimed at the voluntary repatriation of the Caprivians to Namibia.
The group added that although government claim there is peace in the Caprivi strip, their “fathers, brothers and cousins have been languishing in prison over the past 12 years and that mass graves were discovered” in that region.
“We came to Botswana not because we were not employed, had no identity cards, suffering from hunger, development, nor peace which the Namibian Government is preaching while security forces are deployed in the villages. It is to this that, even the abundance of the above mentioned developments and promises shall not at all make us go to Namibia;- but one thing for sure to the Independence of our motherland the Caprivi Strip,” the exiled group said.
The repatriation of refugees from Botswana started in 2002.