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Conflict Diamonds are Blood Diamonds
Diamond mines in politically unstable parts of central and western African countries are controlled by few revolutionary groups and where innocent human lives are subjected to torture, terrorism, violence and human rights abuse and in many cases the ultimate prices - death. For years, diamonds have been mined, cut and polished at the cost of a human life, injury, pain, grave injustice, human rights abuses, child labor, violence, or environmental degradation in many parts of Africa.
As the journalist Douglas Farah writes, "Diamonds are valuable as currency in this conflict diamond trade for numerous reasons. They are easy to transport, easy to sell and retain their value over time. They do not rot and do not need to be held in special conditions".
''Stop Blood Diamonds'' is an organization pledged to stopping the exploitation of the diamond trade by human rights abusers. Blood diamonds, often called conflict diamonds, are mined in war torn African countries by rebels to fund their conflict. The rebels grossly abuse human rights, often murdering and enslaving the local populations to mine the diamonds. Read More
Diamonds and Rebellions
These rebel groups in Africa sell diamonds from these mines to fund their operations and these diamonds are called conflict or blood diamonds. The public concerns about the purchase of such diamonds leading to war and human rights abuses the diamond industry introduced the Kimberley Process in 2002. This process ensures that diamonds sold by such rebel groups are not sold along with other diamonds. The Kimberley process provides documentation and certification of diamond exports from diamond producing countries to ensure that the proceeds of sale are not being used to fund criminal or revolutionary activities.
Having such strict procedures also does not help curb the blood diamond trade to the fullest extent. Approximately 2% of diamonds traded today are possible conflict diamonds. This is due to the relative ease of smuggling diamonds across African borders and violent nature of diamond mining in nations which are not in a technical state of war and whose diamonds are therefore considered “clean".
Terrorism and Human Rights Abuses
Conflict diamonds are so called because these come from countries that suffer from terrorism and human rights abuses. Several groups which want to control diamond trade in these countries have killed many innocents. Therefore, conflict diamonds are also called blood diamonds. The money earned by selling these diamonds is also used to fund such terrorist activities of these groups in West African countries like Angola, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo (also known as Congo Brazzaville) and Liberia. Read More
The Tragedy of Sierra Leone
During the late 1990’s, blood diamonds caught the world’s attention during the extremely brutal conflict in Sierra Leone. It was estimated that 4% of the diamonds traded during that time were conflict diamonds.
There was an important study done to shed light on the Sierra Leone tragedy. It exposes how diamonds - small pieces of carbon with no great intrinsic value - have been the cause of widespread death, destruction and misery for almost a decade in the small West African country of Sierra Leone. Through the 1990s, Sierra Leone’s rebel war became a tragedy of major humanitarian, political and historic proportions, but the story goes back further - almost 60 years, to the discovery of the diamonds.
The diamonds are, to use the title of Graham Greene’s classic 1948 novel about diamond smuggling in Sierra Leone, The Heart of the Matter. In the 1960s and 1970s, a weak post-independence democracy was subverted by despotism and state-sponsored corruption. Economic decline and military rule followed. The rebellion that began in 1991 was characterized by banditry and horrific brutality, wreaked primarily on civilians. Between 1991 and 1999, the war claimed over 75,000 lives, caused half a million Sierra Leoneans to become refugees, and displaced half of the country’s 4.5 million people.
Diamonds and De Beers - The Diamond Cartel
Until the 1980s, De Beers was directly involved in Sierra Leone, had concessions to mine diamonds offshore, and maintained an office in Freetown. Since then, however, the relationship has been indirect. De Beers maintains a diamond trading company in Liberia and a buying office in Conakry, Guinea. Both countries produce very few diamonds themselves, and Liberia is widely understood to be a ‘transit’ country for smuggled diamonds. Many ‘Liberian’ diamonds are of Sierra Leonean origin, and others reportedly originate as far away as Russia and Angola. De Beers says that it does not purchase Sierra Leonean diamonds. Through its companies and buying offices in West Africa, however, and in its attempts to mop up supplies everywhere in the world, it is virtually inconceivable that the company is not - in one way or another - purchasing diamonds that have been smuggled out of Sierra Leone.
What about the Governments in Africa?
Many of the world’s diamonds are harvested using practices that exploit and degrade children, communities, the labor force, and the local environment. Workers are subject to brutality, degrading working conditions, low pay and sometimes death. Consider the facts: over 1 million diamond diggers in Africa are paid less than $1 a day, living in poverty and working in dangerous conditions. Many of the diamond workers in Africa are children under the age of 16, accounting for between 30-50% of the workforce in countries like the Congo, Angola, and Sierra Leone. Local communities in Angola are being tortured by local diamond companies in an effort to force them off the diamond rich land, while the government turns a blind eye.
The Kimberly Process - An End to Conflict Diamonds?
More than 99% of the world's diamonds are now from conflict free sources and are officially traded under the UN mandated Kimberley Process. We are glad to bring you diamonds that are conflict free and have been mined and traded with the strict guidelines of the Kimberly Process. Thanks to the international effort that started in May 2000 when Southern African diamond producing states met in Kimberley, South Africa, to come up with a way to stop the trade in conflict diamonds and to ensure consumers that the diamonds that they purchase have not contributed to violent conflict and human rights abuses in their countries of origin.
Today, more than 99% of the world's diamonds are free from conflict free sources and are officially traded under the UN mandated Kimberley Process. We are glad to bring you diamonds that are conflict free and have been mined and traded with the strict guidelines of the Kimberly Process.
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