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Kalahari Bushmen have condemned the 'Diamonds' exhibition opening this week at London's Natural History Museum with De Beers sponsorship. The museum has refused the Bushmen's request for the issue of their eviction from their land – which many believe was to make way for future diamond mining by De Beers – to be included in the exhibition.
Bushman supporters are protesting outside the exhibition's celebrity opening party on Wednesday evening, 6 July. Celebrities invited to the opening are reported to include Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johannson.
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.
Last month Survival and pioneering American feminist Gloria Steinem picketed the opening of De Beers's first US store in New York. Survival supporters urged US celebrities Teri Hatcher and Lindsay Lohan not to cross the picket line.
Bushman Roy Sesana wrote to the Natural History Museum, 'The whole world has heard our cries. They know that we have been thrown off our land – the land where we have lived for thousands of years – because of the diamonds underneath….. Please do not help De Beers keep our suffering secret.'
Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, 'Most of the world's quality gem diamonds come from De Beers in Botswana. When the Bushmen were evicted, they were told it was to make way for diamonds. How can their destruction be completely ignored by one of the world's foremost museums without us thinking commercial sponsorship has taken precedence over objective education? It's just another big advert for diamonds at the public's expense and the museum should be ashamed.'
Seven Bushmen were tortured last month by wildlife officials in Kaudwane eviction site, Botswana.
WHERE: Natural History Museum
WHEN: Wednesday 6 July, 7-8.30pm
For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]