Celebrities shun Botswana diamonds

2010-11-04 07:33

Johannesburg - A group of celebrities including "X-Files" star Gillian Anderson is boycotting diamonds from Botswana to protest the government's treatment of the Kalahari Bushmen, a rights group said Wednesday.

The group, Survival International, also staged a protest outside the De Beers diamond store in London, calling for the indigenous group to be given full rights to their ancestral lands.

"People should know that far from being an expensive token of eternal love, Botswana diamonds are a symbol of the nasty oppression of southern Africa’s first people," Stephen Corry, Survival International's director, said in a statement.

The tribal rights group also called for a boycott of tourism and travel to Botswana.

It said other celebrities joining the boycott include actresses Joanna Lumley and Sophie Okonedo, actor Mark Rylance and British children's author Quentin Blake.

The Bushmen, southern Africa's first inhabitants, were resettled outside their traditional lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002 after diamonds were discovered there.

Botswana produces almost a quarter of the world's diamonds, accounting for half its government's revenue.

A court ruled in 2006 that the Bushmen had the right to return to their land, but barred them from accessing a borehole that was their only source of water.

Bushmen once numbered in the millions in southern Africa, but today only some 100 000 are left, almost half of them in Botswana.

Others are spread across Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.