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On the eve of the three-year anniversary of the eviction of the Gana
and Gwi Bushmen from their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve,
six Bushmen have been heavily fined for hunting to feed their
The six Bushmen were ordered to pay one thousand Botswana pula
(£125/$230) each or face imprisonment. Despite having very little money, all
have paid. They were arrested in July 2004 and detained for two weeks
without trial, and were subsequently charged with hunting gemsbok
antelope. Seven other Bushman hunters have also been charged and
are awaiting trial.
In November 2004, Botswana's President Festus Mogae told British
MPs visiting Botswana that the Bushmen were allowed to hunt in the
Central Kalahari Game Reserve. His government had previously
banned all hunting and gathering inside the reserve, making the
Bushmen's way of life impossible. Last week's fines make it clear
that while Botswana wants the international community to believe it
is respecting the Bushmen's rights to hunt, the reality on the ground is
unchanged. Many Bushmen have been arrested and tortured for hunting
in the reserve, where they have lived for thousands of years.
Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, 'These latest arrests
show that the Bushmen are being persecuted both inside and outside
the reserve. Despite President Mogae's promises, it is clear that the
government is hell-bent on making the Bushmen's hunting way of life
impossible. This is both immoral and a tragedy, for the alternatives
are alcoholism, prostitution and HIV/AIDS.'
Photos and footage available. For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]