200+ killed by troops in Zimbabwean mine
Human Rights Watch said Friday that Zimbabwe’s armed forces have taken over diamond fields in the east and killed more than 200 people, forcing children to search for the gems and beating villagers who get in the way.
See AP / Rights group: Abuse in Zimbabwe diamond fields and Telegrahp / Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe military ‘profiting from diamond massacre’. The articles are essentially based on this Human Rights Watch report: Diamonds in the Rough. It describes how Robert Mugabe’s regime in one case attacked mine workers with three military helicopters.
“I first heard the sound and then saw three helicopters above us in the field. I was not worried, I just assumed it was a team of buyers who had come for business in helicopters as they sometimes did. However, soldiers in the helicopters started firing live ammunition and tear gas at us. We all stopped digging and began to run towards the hills to hide.”
Quote an anonymous survivor.
Army units are given turns overseeing the mine in an effort to keep troop morale from disintegrating along with the rest of the country.
Blood spilled over diamonds is far from a new thing. In fact, it was the theme of a 2006 Hollywood movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly.
Blood Diamond – the movie
Imdb.com entry | Official site
Although, for my taste, it has a bit too much of Leonardo running right ahead of mortar explosions and mad gunfire it is a good movie in itself on top of highlighting an important issue. Good acting by Leonardo, Jennifer and not least by Djimon Hounsou who is playing the fisherman / mine slave. Theatrical, yes, but first of all gruesomely blunt in its violence.
From the final scrolling titles though we are given relief:
In January 2003, forty nations signed “The Kimberley Process” […] It is up to the consumer to insist that a diamond is conflict-free.
2009: The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme collapsing
It might have worked for some years but now it’s under serious pressure. Some in the industry argues Zimbabwean diamonds aren’t blood diamonds as they fund a government. And 100% of Venezuela’s diamonds are being smuggled, Guinea has reported an impossible 500% increase in diamond production year on year, in Angola thousands of small-scale Congolese miners were beaten and expelled and Lebanon is exporting more rough diamonds than it imports despite having no mines. No action has been taken against any of these countries still operating with Kimberley certification.
If the Kimberley Process collapses entirely?
The diamond trade would go back to its criminal past and rebel armies would have no problem finding buyers for their blood diamonds. The potential for diamonds fuelling conflict would be back.
Quote Ian Smillie, Kimberley Process initiative person – who left in anger
See The Huffington Post / The Return Of Blood Diamonds, africafiles.org / Partnership Africa Canada’s Smillie casts final “no confidence” vote in Kimberley Process and goes home and The Globe and Mail / The failing battle against blood diamonds.
Throughout the history about Africa: whenever a substance a value is found, the locals died in great number, in misery. And this was truth of ivory, rubber, gold, and oils and is now true of diamond. According to a devastating report by Global Witness the stones are being used to process arm and finance civil war. We must act to prohibit the direct or indirect import of all of diamonds from conflict Zones
Quote G8 politician in Blood Diamond