Bushmen tortured for hunting

June 22, 2005

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Three Bushmen have been severely tortured by wildlife officials on suspicion of hunting to feed their families.

The three were arrested by game scouts in the relocation camp of Kaudwane (where they have been living since they were forcibly evicted from their land in 2002) and were taken to the Wildlife Department base at the entrance to Khutse Game Reserve.

The Bushmen were all beaten severely in the groin, and one was tied upside down and had petrol poured into his anus. One Bushman was unable to urinate for three days, and then urinated blood. After being released the Bushmen went to the police station in the relocation camp, but were turned away and told to report the assault to Molepolole police station – an impossibly long way for the Bushmen to travel.

The Bushmen in the relocation camps have few ways to feed their families except by hunting, even though there is little game left near the camps. Since 2002, however, the majority have been denied hunting licences by the government. Apart from hunting, the Bushmen in the camps are almost entirely dependent on government handouts.

The director of Survival International, Stephen Corry, said today, 'Botswana's government pretends it's 'civilising' the Bushmen – in fact it's obvious it intends to destroy them. Torturing men for supposedly hunting must rank amongst the world's worst violations of tribal peoples' rights. To allow this to happen during a court case is truly shameful. Botswana's pretence at 'democracy' is once again proven a hollow sham.'

For further information, please contact Miriam Ross on (0)20 7687 8734/ [email protected]