Bushmen's last stand as armed police raid reserve

September 12, 2005

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Gana and Gwi Bushmen who have returned to their land were today ordered to leave within ten days. Armed police and wildlife scouts are camped in the Bushmen's reserve, and are threatening to shoot them dead.

The local District Commissioner went to the communities inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) today to deliver the government's ultimatum.

All but thirty of the Bushmen in the reserve were evicted in 2002. Others have since returned despite government opposition, so that there are now 200-250 people living on their land. Hundreds more in the resettlement camps are desperate to return.

The government's move comes in defiance of the ongoing court case which is supposed to rule on whether the Bushmen have the right to live in the reserve. News of the gun threats will embarrass Botswana's President Festus Mogae and Foreign Minister Mompati Merafhe as they leave for the UN in New York, where Mr Mogae is expected to address the Assembly.

Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, ’The Botswana government doesn't care about its own courts or the rule of law, and least of all about its Indigenous peoples. All minorities there must now feel under threat.'

’We will ensure the international community doesn't forget the Bushmen and what they are suffering. The outside world won't turn a blind eye to their destruction – which is now tantamount to genocide. Tourists to Botswana and those who buy diamonds from De Beers are now complicit in this, the greatest of crimes.'

Photos and footage available. For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]