Gem Diamonds sink water boreholes on Bushman land, Bushmen still denied water

April 14, 2008

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Several water boreholes have been sunk in preparation for a diamond mine in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), Botswana, but the Bushmen who live there are forbidden from taking any water at all from their own borehole in the reserve.

The exploratory boreholes were created as part of the environmental assessment which precedes the construction of Gem Diamonds’ $2.2 billion diamond mine at Gope, a traditional Bushman community within the reserve. The mine will require several wells to supply it with enough water to operate, in addition to the vast volumes of water that will be extracted from the mine pit itself.

Bushmen from the reserve have been petitioning the Botswana government to allow them to re-open a single borehole at Mothomelo, within the reserve, ever since the government dismantled it to ‘encourage’ people to relocate in 2002. This borehole was the Bushmen’s main source of water before the government unlawfully evicted them from the reserve.

The Bushmen won the legal right to return to their homes in December 2006, but the government continues to make this almost impossible by refusing to allow them to operate a water borehole in what is an extremely arid and inhospitable environment.

Stephen Corry, director of Survival, said today ‘There is only one reason behind the government allowing the diamond miners to sink unlimited boreholes and preventing the Bushmen from using just one – the cruel vindictiveness of a government determined to keep the Bushmen out of their ancestral lands, and intent on making them pay for their victory in the high court. The diamonds from this mine will be tokens of hate, not love.’

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