Survival protest – ‘Bushman women dying for diamonds’

March 10, 2008

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Survival International will hold a peaceful protest in support of the Kalahari Bushmen outside a public meeting hosted by the Botswana diamond industry at Chatham House in London.

Date: Wednesday 12 March
Time: 10.30am – 11.15am
Place: Chatham House, 10 St James's Square, London SW1Y 4LE

Three prominent women involved in Botswana’s diamond industry, one of them Botswana’s Attorney General, will speak at the meeting. But Survival supporters will hold placards showing photos of three other women – Bushman women who have died due to the eviction of the Bushmen from their land to make way for diamond mining.

Diamond giant De Beers sold its concession on the Bushmen’s land to Gem Diamonds in 2007. Gem Diamonds says the find contains more than $2.2 billion-worth of diamonds, and it plans to develop a mine as quickly as possible.

Botswana’s High Court declared the evictions ‘unlawful’ in 2006. But the government is preventing the Bushmen from returning to their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve by banning them from using their own borehole there.

Bushman woman Qoroxloo died of dehydration and starvation in the reserve in 2005. Her relatives were arrested trying to take food and water to her. Gakemeitswe (not her real name) died of AIDS in a relocation camp in 2006 after being evicted from the reserve, and Dibe died ‘of a broken heart’ soon after being evicted against her will.

Renowned jeweller and Survival ambassador Pippa Small, who will join the vigil, said today, ‘I’m appalled that the Botswana government is preventing the Bushmen from taking the tiny amount of water they need from beneath the Kalahari. The diamond mine planned on their land will use billions of times more water than the Bushmen would ever use. This is giving Botswana’s diamonds a bad name.’

The CEO of De Beers Botswana Sheila Khama, Botswana’s Attorney-General Athalia Molokomme and the Governor of the Bank of Botswana Linah K Mohohlo will speak at Chatham House. Molokomme and Mohohlo are on the board of Debswana, De Beers’s joint venture with the Botswana government.

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