“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Martin Luther King, Jr

Friday, November 6, 2009

Zimbabwe's Diamond Mines

Zimbabwe faces the threat of being suspended from the international diamond trade after allegations of brutality from it's soldiers. Rights groups are lobbying members of the *Kimberly Process, the body that regulates trade in rough diamonds to halt exports from Zimbabwe. Activists say Mugabe's soldiers massacred about 200 people when the troops moved in last year. Witnesses told of how tear gas was thrown from helicopters, policemen opened fire on the diamond mine and raped the women who were caught at the field. Activists say local people are being forced to search for diamonds, with all the profit being taken by Zanu-PF. Human Rights Watch insists the Kimberley Process should ensure diamonds are not mined in areas where human rights are being violated.

Mugabe sympathizers argue that the Kimberley Process is meant only to ensure the profits are not used to fund conflict, so Zimbabwe should not be banned. Namibian MP Bernhard Esau, the current chairman of the Kimberley
Process, told the BBC's Network Africa programme that Zimbabwe had"really serious problems" and needed help to remain "part of the family".

The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. The trade in these illicit stones has fueled decades o fdevastating conflicts in countries such as Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of
rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’. As of November 2008, the KP has 49 members, representing 75 countries, with the European Community and its Member States counting as an individual participant. For more information on the Kimberley Process here is the link.

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