Government tries to subvert Bushmen’s court case fundraising

March 3, 2006

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The Botswana government has attempted to subvert the Kalahari Bushmen's efforts to raise money for their costly legal case over their eviction from their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

The Botswana High Commission in London distributed a leaflet, containing many false claims about the circumstances surrounding the evictions, to people attending an event held by Survival to raise money for the Bushmen.

The Gana and Gwi Bushmen's court case against the government is already the longest and most expensive in Botswana's history, despite being brought by the country's poorest inhabitants.

On the death of Bushman woman Qoroxloo Duxee, the leaflet claims, ‘The unfortunate death of the Basarwa [Bushman] woman from starvation indicates their inability to provide for themselves in the traditional way.' In fact, Qoroxloo Duxee starved to death inside the reserve in November after wildlife guards, camped nearby, threatened to kill anyone who tried to hunt or gather. Police had fired teargas and bullets at Bushmen who tried to take food and water into the reserve in September, and then arrested them. The reserve has been sealed off since 1 September.

Among other claims, the leaflet denies that Bushmen have been tortured, despite many existing testimonies from victims. It also claims that Bushmen remaining inside the reserve are free to access government services in the resettlement camps. In fact, Bushmen who have made trips out of the reserve to visit relatives have been refused re-entry.

Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The Botswana government is well aware that the court case is an enormous drain on the Bushmen's resources. Its attempt to prevent them raising much-needed funds by repeating the lies we have been hearing for years simply will not work.'

For more information call Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]