De Beers celebrity store opening loses its sparkle

June 20, 2005

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Celebrities will this Wednesday 22 June (5.30-9pm) be urged by protesters from human rights organisation Survival International not to cross their picket line at the opening of the first De Beers store in the USA (703 Fifth Avenue, New York), over the eviction of the Bushmen from the Kalahari. Leading American feminist Gloria Steinem will be joining the vigil. Survival has also called for a boycott of De Beers.

De Beers has been caught in a storm of controversy over the eviction of the last remaining Gana and Gwi Bushmen and Bakgalagadi from their homes in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana.  De Beers holds the concession on a large diamond deposit in the reserve, and is prospecting for more. De Beers claims its finds are 'subeconomic', but it has paid out millions of dollars on the area and keeps a licence to mine there in the future.

The Botswana government and De Beers both deny that diamonds have anything to do with the evictions. Yet Bushmen have been told by government officials, 'If diamonds are found somewhere, the people have to be chased away.'

Supermodel Iman famously 'quit as the face of De Beers … after letters she received from the charity Survival International.' British supermodel Erin O'Connor similarly distanced herself from De Beers stating 'I don't think that doing a job like (being the face of De Beers) would in any way add to my life or make me happy. I would make that stand, and say no.' Survival is now urging the new face of De Beers, British model Lily Cole, to quit.

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival said today, 'We encourage De Beers to pressurise the Botswana government into reversing its disastrous policy. We will not stop our campaign until the Bushmen are allowed back onto their land.'

For more information about the role of diamonds in the eviction of the Kalahari Bushmen, go to:

For more information about Survival's Bushmen campaign, go to:

Contact Miriam Ross on 001-917 294 2637, Ghislain Pascal +44 (0)7778 788735,  or Jo Woodman on +44 (0)20 7687 8732/ [email protected]