The Bushmen and conflict diamonds
What are conflict diamonds?
According to Global Witness, conflict diamonds are diamonds that fuel conflict, civil wars and human rights abuses. Another definition, from African governments, is much more limited and refers only to the funding of rebel armies. Survival rejects this narrower definition.
What is the Kimberley Process?
A self-regulating scheme run by diamond-producing countries to certify that their diamonds do not fuel civil war or conflict. The Kimberley Process does not certify that diamonds have not fueled human rights abuses.
Do Botswana’s diamonds fund civil war?
No. Botswana is a peaceful and prosperous country. However, despite its diamond wealth (it is the world’s biggest producer of the gems), half the population lives below the poverty line. Its people are poorer and hungrier than ten years ago, and it has one of the most unequal distributions of income in the world.
Does De Beers want to mine on Bushman land?
Yes. De Beers retains a large diamond deposit in a Bushman community in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). It hopes to mine there in the future.
Why do the Bushmen think they were evicted because of diamonds?
Because government ministers told them so. They say, ‘The people of CKGR believe we were moved for diamonds because that is what we were told by the Ministers. The Ministers have been telling us since 1985 that we must move because of the diamonds.’
Are Botswana’s diamonds ‘conflict diamonds’?
Yes. Diamond finds in the Bushmen’s ancestral lands were the key reason for the government evicting them. Money from diamonds has undoubtedly funded the evictions and the ‘relocation camps’ which the Bushmen call ‘places of death’. De Beers’s Managing Director in Botswana backed the removals. De Beers falsely claims there were no Bushmen originally in its concession. It has also stated that laws to protect tribal peoples should not be applied in Africa, as they ‘lead to apartheid’.
How do I buy conflict-free diamonds?
Don’t buy diamonds from De Beers.
What do the Bushmen say?
‘We as First People of the Kalahari believe that conflict diamonds are whenever diamonds cause pain and suffering. That is why we call Botswana diamonds conflict diamonds.’
How can I help the Bushmen?
Go to https://www.survival-international.org/bushmen for ways to help.