Pauline Dempers

Pauline Dempers is a Namibian human rights and anti-apartheid activist who has served as national coordinator for the organization Breaking the Wall of Silence (BWS) since 1999. BWS is a grassroots group that advocates for the rights of victims who were abducted, imprisoned and tortured without at the hands of South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAMPO) political party during the Namibian War of Independence against South Africa. Initially Pauline had worked with SWAMPO in the fight for independence, but SWAMPO began to suspect many of its own members were spies for the opposition movement. Pauline, along with hundreds of others, was arrested for espionage (though tribal and class motivations are likely the true reason) and abused without ever receiving a trial. She spent three years enduring imprisonment and torture-filled interrogations. SWAMPO denies that any serious abuses were ever committed and claims that incidents that did occur were all in the name of liberation.

In addition to working with BWS, Pauline has worked closely with the Congress of Democrats and other political factions who have stood in opposition to SWAMPO and its institutionalized political corruption. Politically her work has remained centered on prompting the National Assembly to find final resolution for all the detainees and victims of SWAMPO’s liberation movement.

Illustration by Megan Kreuz

Namibia

Visualizing the act of speaking out with geometric sound waves cutting through the rigidity of enforced silence, this illustration brings a focus to the strength of voice, and tenacity of spirit honoring Pauline Dempers’ project “Breaking the Wall of Silence.”

Total Area
825,615 km2 (34th)

Demonym
Namibian

Government
Unitary semi-presidential republic

Population
2,113,077

Capital
Windhoek

GDP (PPP)
$11,756