Survival Targets Graff Diamonds

survival

Human rights group Survival International held a protest last week outside Graff Diamonds flagship London store, to demand that Laurence Graff pulls out of a controversial diamond mine planned on the land of the Kalahari Bushmen in Botswana.

Survival also wrote to celebrities who wear Graff diamonds, including Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell and Elizabeth Hurley, asking them to stop wearing the jewels, and is targeting the Oscars to prevent celebrities wearing Graff diamonds.

Rival diamond company De Beers pulled out of the Kalahari reserve after models Iman and Lily Cole refused to continue working with the company.

Laurence Graff owns a 9% share in Gem Diamonds, which plans to mine on the Bushmen’s land. According to Survival International, the Bushmen face severe water shortages, and one has died of thirst, since the government closed their borehole. Yet the Botswana government, which is in the process of approving Gem’s mine, has said that the Bushmen will not be allowed to use any water boreholes drilled for the mine.

Gem Diamonds claims that the Bushmen are in favour of the mine, but the Bushmen have had no independent advice on its probable impact.

The Botswana government evicted the Bushmen from their land in 2002; many believe this was to make way for future diamond mining. The Botswana High Court affirmed in 2006 the Bushmen’s rights to live on their land, but the government has tried to prevent them from returning by denying them water and hunting rights. Many Bushmen remain in government resettlement camps, unable to go home.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said “Having watched the storm of negative publicity surrounding De Beers, Graff should have known better than to buy into this mine. Does it really want to be known as the company that mined its diamonds while the Bushmen died of thirst?”

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