No Valentine's Day present for the Bushmen

February 12, 2004

This page was created in 2004 and may contain language which is now outdated.

To mark Valentine's Day Survival has launched a postcard campaign calling for a boycott of De Beers and the Somali supermodel Iman. The campaign comes in a week in which the Botswana government has launched a new wave of harassment of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen: two years after evicting them from their ancestral land, it has recently sent in wildlife officials to arrest Bushmen at gunpoint for hunting near their resettlement camp. The Bushmen believe it is targeting those opposed to the forced relocation.

De Beers has been drawn into the controversy surrounding the Botswana government's eviction of the Bushmen. Many suspect that the rich diamond deposits under their land are the reason for the Bushmen's eviction. Diamond mining in Botswana is controlled by De Beers, in a 50:50 partnership with the government.

De Beers says that it opposes the idea of recognising the rights of Indigenous peoples in Africa, as doing so would lead to 'apartheid'. This idea has drawn criticism from Indigenous peoples around the world. Geoff Clark, head of Australia's leading Aboriginal organisation – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission – called it 'nonsensical and offensive'. The head of De Beers's Botswana subsidiary has publicly welcomed the Bushmen's removal, saying 'The Government was justified in removing the Basarwa [Bushmen]… who would always want to remain in the Dark Ages…?'

Iman is the 'public face' of De Beers, and is reportedly being paid around US$1 million to promote the company. She produces her own line of make-up, called 'i-Iman'.

For copies of the postcard, or for more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]

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