Danish Aid Workers Living in Fear Over Caprivi Crisis

JOHANNESBURG, Aug.13 , (ANS) — Danish aid workers in Namibia said this week they were living in fear of their lives following threatening phone calls and armed break-ins into some of their homes after Denmark turned down demands for the extradition of an exiled rebel leader.

An official of the Danish aid organisation, IBI/WUS-Denmark, told IRIN the threats were apparently linked to the fact that Denmark has provided asylum to Mishake Muyongo, the leader of the secessionist group which last week launched the first rebel attack in Namibia since the country’s independence from South Africa in 1990.

The government said this week at least 14 people had died in the attack on Katima Mulilo, capital of the remote northeast Caprivi Strip.

According to the Danish official, the threats have included armed break-ins at the homes of some of the aid organisation’s staff members as well as threatening phone calls: “The situation is serious, we are dealing with different kinds of threats and acts of intimidation against staff members on a daily basis.”

The official said IBIS/WUS-Denmark, which has about 40 Danish nationals based in the country, has provided about US $66 million in development aid to Namibia since it gained independence from South Africa in 1990.

“Our projects include the building of schools, urban and rural development as well as the teaching of science subjects,” said the official.

If the threats and intimidation continued, he added, some staff might consider leaving the country for their own safety.

Human rights group cites allegations of torture, beatings and mass arrests by Namibian security forces surfaced in the Caprivi Strip this week in the aftermath of Katima Mulilo attack.

Officials of Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) told IRIN that they have received reports that at least 300 Caprivians had so far been arrested following a declaration of a state of emergency in the Caprivi by President Sam Nujoma. Similar allegations were also carried in the independent daily, ‘The Namibian’.

“The majority of the detainees are human rights activists, teachers, civil servants, schoolchildren and opposition politicians,” Phil ya Nangoloh told IRIN. “We also have information indicating that the detainees are being subjected to acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman treatment.”

Ya Nangoloh also said another worrying factor is that the whereabouts of the detainees are not known: “This not only makes it impossible for detainees to exercise their rights such as access to lawyers, but it also creates fertile ground for enforced disappearances.”

At the same time, the media said Godfrey Mwilima, a former opposition parliamentarian who was arrested last week, is in hospital after being allegedly assaulted by security forces during his arrest.

“Mwilima was allegedly seriously assaulted with the butts of guns by Namibian Defence Force members and he now has a broken jaw occasioned by the beatings,” Ya Nangoloh said.

Ya Nangoloh added that the security forces are said to be searching for Moses Nasilele, NSHR’s chief monitor for the Caprivi. “Two members of our monitoring team in the Caprivi, Joseph Muchali and Gabriel Mwilima, have already been arrested and their present whereabouts are unknown.”

 Source: Africa News Service

 Powered by Burrelle\s/VMS NewsAlert