Botswana Bushmen's plea to De Beers and BHP Billiton

As the world's diamond chiefs gather in Antwerp this week for a major international diamond conference, many of Botswana's Gana and Gwi ’Bushmen' are asking De Beers and BHP Billiton not to mine on their land until their rights to return to it and live on it in peace are respected.

The Botswana government evicted the Gana and Gwi Bushmen and their neighbours the Bakgalagadi from their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in February 2002. Since the evictions, almost all of the Bushmen's land has been handed out to mining companies as diamond exploration concessions. De Beers and BHP Billiton own most of the concessions between them.

Many Bushmen have told Survival there should be no mining on their land in their absence. Thamanga, a Gwi man from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, said, ’Now that the government is pushing us off our land, there shouldn't be any mining. If I could meet the director of De Beers in Europe I would beg him to stop mining in Botswana because we have lived on the land for years, and when something precious on the land is found and we are thrown out, the government is not respecting our human rights.'

Full colour maps of the concessions boom from the government's Department of Geological Survey can be downloaded by clicking here.

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