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Survival International is launching a boycott of Botswana today at the world's largest tourism fair, ITB (Internationale Tourismus-Börse) Berlin. Supporters of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen will give out leaflets outside the fair asking people not to go on holiday to Botswana until the Bushmen are allowed to return to their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and to hunt and gather freely.
The Gana and Gwi say that tourism should not be developed on their land until they can go home. But the government is promoting the reserve as a tourist attraction. Other key tourist destinations, such as the Tsodilo Hills, famous for ancient Bushman rock art, have also been emptied of the Bushmen who used to live there.
Cynically, the Botswana government uses the Bushmen's hunter-gatherer way of life to promote the country to tourists. In fact, the Gana and Gwi were banned from hunting and gathering on their land in 2002, and Bushmen hunting to feed their families now face heavy fines or imprisonment. Bushman hunters have also been tortured.
Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, 'The Gana and Gwi are fighting for their very survival, languishing in eviction sites where they are falling victim to alcoholism, prostitution and HIV/AIDS. Please don't go on holiday to Botswana until they are allowed to go home, and write to the president to ask him to let this happen now.'
Photos and footage available. For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]