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Two  indigenous tribes in Namibia have sued Germany over genocide committed in the country more than a century ago.

The indigenous tribes, Ovaherero and Nama, filed the suit in New York on Thursday, seeking compensation on atrocities committed by the country’s former colonial master.

They also want to be included in talks between Germany and Namibia on the issue.

The two countries have been in discussions about a joint declaration on massacres carried out by German settlers during the 1900s, although Berlin has repeatedly refused to acknowledge that genocide occurred or to pay compensation.

The suit alleges from 1885 to 1903 about one-quarter of Ovaherero and Nama lands were taken without compensation by German settlers, with the explicit consent of German colonial authorities.

It also claims German authorities turned a blind eye to rapes by colonists of Ovaherero and Nama women and girls, and the use of forced labour.

Tensions boiled over in early 1904 when the Ovaherero rose up, followed by the Nama – a rebellion crushed by German imperial troops.

The lawsuit alleges that as many 100,000 Ovaherero and Nama people died in a campaign of annihilation led by German General Lothar von Trotha.

Activists have presented correspondence from the German general to prove the genocide.

Published documents also show victims were placed in forced labour camps and possibly experimented on.

The lawsuit was filed under Alien Tort Statute, which does not usually cover foreign conduct unless it somehow “touched” the United States.

A US-based non-profit group, Association of the Ovaherero Genocide, is one of the plaintiffs, along with Vekuii Rukoro, identified as the chief of the Ovaherero people, and David Frederick, chief and chairman of the Nama Traditional Authorities Association.

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