- Survival International has today claimed victory for Basarwa tribes in Botswana following reported suspension of prospecting operations by mining company in Kalahari.
Following pressure from Survival International, De Beers says it has stopped operations on the land of the Kalahari Bushmen in Botswana because those it consulted, including Bushmen living inside the reserve, did not agree with its plan to explore for diamonds near a Bushman community, group said in a statement today.
De Beers is said to have only begun its latest operations in central Kalahari Game Reserve last month and its latest announcement says it has no intention of carrying out any further activity there, and will not do so unless and until a sustainable, long-term management plan is agreed.
"This is a huge victory for the Bushmen – but diamond mining still threatens their survival. De Beers retains a number of prospecting licences in the reserve," said Survival International statement.
It further pointed out that another diamond company, Gem Diamonds, is also prospecting inside the reserve, saying that although it claims to have some local support, it is operating while Bushmen are still being bullied and harassed and are unable to get any proper legal advice. "This puts the Bushmen in no position to agree fairly to anything. Despite the Botswana High Court’s 2006 ruling affirming the Bushmen’s rights, government is still preventing them from accessing their water borehole and forbids hunting," further added international group.
The group further reported Bushmen to have told Survival that until all those unlawfully evicted are allowed back on their land with access to water and hunting permits, they consider diamonds mined by Gem to be tainted. One said, ‘It is a lie that Gem is doing anything for the Bushmen. They do not care about us – they only work with the government.’
Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, "Any talks between diamond companies and the Bushmen under current conditions make a mockery of the concept of free, prior and informed consent, which is the cornerstone of both the UN declaration on indigenous peoples and the international law."
President of Botswana, General Ian Khama, whose government is cuntinually criticised for oppressing Bushmen and allow mineral prospecting on their land, is said to be a board member of environmental NGO, Conservation International, which according to Survival Internation, adds further insult to Bushmen’s predicament.
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