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Namibia tribes appeal US court ruling in genocide suit

The two tribes are seeking compensation for the persecution their members suffered in what was known as German South West Africa (present-day Namibia) during colonial rule from 1884-1915.

New York attorney Kenneth McCallion (L), defending the Namibian tribes, Ida Hoffmann(C), representative of the Nama tribe and a member of Parliament in Namibia, and Ester Muiinjangue, also from the Nama tribe speak during a news conference 16 March 2017 in New York. Picture: AFP

NEW YORK - Lawyers for the Herero and Nama tribes on Tuesday appealed a New York court ruling dismissing their compensation claim against Germany for the genocide of their ancestors in present-day Namibia.

In a filing before New York's federal appeals court, lawyers for the two ethnicities claim a lower court erred in its 6 March decision, which said Germany was protected from their suit by the principle of sovereign immunity of a state.

Germany is vulnerable to the claim because it owns real estate in New York, and the remains of some genocide victims are interred at the city's American Museum of Natural History, the filing says, repeating arguments rejected in the March ruling.

The two tribes are seeking compensation for the persecution their members suffered in what was known as German South West Africa during colonial rule from 1884-1915. The territory has since become Namibia.

Tens of thousands of members of the Herero tribe and some 10,000 Namas were killed from 1904-1908 after rebelling against German rule.

Germany has officially recognized these abuses, and in recent months has been negotiating an agreement with Namibia that would combine an official apology with development aid.

But Hereros and Namas haven't been invited to these discussions, and instead went to court in the United States to argue for reparations from Germany.

After the court ruling in March, German authorities accelerated the repatriation of human remains and works of art looted from African countries during the colonial era.

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