De Beers supports Bushman book but not their rights

November 15, 2004

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In what is presumably an attempt to deflect attention from the controversy surrounding its reaction to the eviction of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen of Botswana, De Beers is sponsoring the launch of a new book about the Bushmen of southern Africa, 'Voices of the San'.

However, the managing director of De Beers' Botswana arm, Debswana, has publicly welcomed the Bushmen's eviction from their ancestral land. De Beers has told Survival since that it does not recognise Indigenous rights in southern Africa, as such recognition would lead to 'apartheid'.

De Beers holds the concession on a large diamond deposit on the ancestral land of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana, and is prospecting for more. The exploratory mine shaft sunk by the company lies in the middle of a Bushman community called Gope. The Gana and Gwi were evicted from their land in 1997 and 2002 by the Botswana government.

Bushman spokesperson Roy Sesana says, 'We are worried about De Beers because they just come to our ancestral land and do surveys and get concessions, without consulting the people on the ground about what they are doing. They just make agreements with the government and do whatever they want… There should be no mining in CKGR while we are evicted. We have to go back first and then we can decide whether mining can take place or not.'

'Voices of the San' is launched in London on 17 November.

Photos and footage available.

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