afrol News, 18 October - The mostly international campaign against the Batswana government's forced relocation of San (formerly called "Bushmen") societies is now also finding support in Botswana. An opposition party says the relocation is "undemocratic" that diamonds are behind the rights violations.
The Gana and Gwi communities of the indigenous San people are forced to move from their ancestral lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). The park holds diamond, game and tourism resources that collide with the San communities' extensive utilisation. The relocation has caused massive protest from San organisations and the international society.
Now, the Youth League of the Botswana National Front - the left of centre main opposition party in Botswana - has issued a press statement condemning the treatment of the Gana and Gwi societies from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The statement labels the "abuse, oppression and exploitation" of the San (commonly known as Basarwa in Botswana) "undemocratic and a gross violation of the Basarwa's Human Rights."
It continues; "The real reason why Basarwa are forcefully removed from their ancestral lands is to pave way for Debswana [De Beers's joint mining venture with the Botswana Government] to mine Diamonds."
The Youth League concludes: "We therefore as an organisation condemn the human rights violations of Basarwa by the Botswana Democratic Party government and vow to fight along with the Basarwa for the protection of their rights. What the Botswana Democratic Party government is doing is a systematic extermination of the indigenous people's socio cultural rights and as said in some quarters it amounts to genocide."
Earlier this year, the Batswana government had cut off water supplies to the San people of the Park, draining their supplies into the desert. The government has been urging the San communities to relocate since 1997. While government officials say relocations are "voluntary", San spokesmen speak of "intimidation", "forced relocation" and "racist oppression".
Outside of Botswana, the campaign for the rights of the San people is led by the London-based group Survival International. After years of campaigning, Survival has increasingly managed to get several government officials and politicians outside Botswana to engage on behalf of the San.