MEP slams Botswana government

August 28, 2002

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A senior MEP has publicly slated the Botswana government over their eviction of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen from the central Kalahari. Richard Howitt, a member of the European Parliament's Development Committee, labelled the government's treatment of the Bushmen 'an abuse of human rights and the international conventions on Indigenous peoples.'

After visiting the few Bushmen holding out in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Mr Howitt said, 'They've had their water supplies… cut off since January and in one village, Kukama, I saw their last bowl of water which was thick brown from being used and reused, but they said 'We will die of thirst rather than being moved' – that is their determination.'

Mr Howitt went on, 'What I found were stories of violent intimidation, named government officials saying soldiers would come in and forcibly move them.' The government has denied the evictions were forced, but numerous accounts from the Bushmen themselves tell a different story.

Survival's Director Stephen Corry said today, 'The account of these brutal evictions has now reached around the world, and many parliamentarians and journalists are going to investigate for themselves. What they are finding out is doing terrible damage to Botswana's reputation as a peaceful and democratic country. We hope the government will see sense and allow the Bushmen back on to their land.'

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