Archbishop Tutu condemns Bushman evictions

November 7, 2006

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu has condemned the eviction of the Kalahari Bushmen and has appealed to the Botswana government not to destroy them.

A film of the statement by veteran South African anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Tutu was released yesterday by the Gana and Gwi Bushmen’s organisation, First People of the Kalahari.

Archbishop Tutu says, ‘The San Bushmen represent a 100,000 year-old culture that we should consider one of the world’s treasures. And while progress is necessary, it cannot be that the only way to achieve progress is to remove the San from their ancestral lands and drive their traditions away.

‘We’ve already seen this with the American Indians, the Aborigines, and it is also happening with the Tibetans. When a culture is destroyed in the name of progress, it is not progress, it is a loss for our world. Hundreds of thousands of years of wisdom, knowledge of nature, medicines, and ways of living together, go with them.

‘I am concerned by reports from journalists that the San have been forcibly removed from their ancestral lands and placed in resettlement camps under unacceptable living conditions, and that those resisting resettlement have been abused, cut off from food and water, and deprived of their most basic human rights. Alcoholism, prostitution and AIDS have become issues with the San for the first time in their existence.

‘I appeal to [the Botswana government], and the world, to find new ways to help solve these issues in a manner that respects the lovely, spiritual culture of the San Bushmen.’

Click here to read a full transcript of the statement

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