Dr Von Paleske criticises Survival International campaign

Dr Alexander Von Paleske has asked me to pass on the following article, which is a critique of Survival International’s campaign for a boycott of Botswana diamonds.

Survival International, Leonardo diCaprio and the Bushmen in Botswana/Africa
by Dr. Alexander von Paleske

  Wednesday September 27, 2006 at 04:59 AM
avpaleske@botsnet.bw Princess Marina Hospital, Gaborone

Survival International and it’s recent questionable international campaign to get the Basarwa relocated into the Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana

Survival International has started yet another campaign to get the Basarwa (Bushmen) relocated into the Kalahari Game Reserve by portraying the Botswana Diamonds as conflict- or blood diamonds.

The latest is an appeal by the head of the Basarwa, Roy Sesana, to Hollywood actor Leonardo diCaprio to support their campaign for relocation, claiming, that the alleged planned prospecting for diamonds was the reason for their removal from the Kalahari Game Reserve.

Di Caprio is starring in a movie about a blood-diamond dealer in Sierra Leone. Sesana’s letter was advertised widely by Survival International.

The Basarwa have taken the Government of Botswana to court and the case has been heard in the High Court in Lobatse, Botswana. Judgement day is set for December this year.

Whatever the case of the Baswara (Bushmen) is, right or wrong, it has absolutely nothing to do with the mining of the Botswana diamonds. Botswana’s diamonds are not conflict or blood diamonds and Survival International knows this only too well.

Botswana diamonds, unlike the diamonds in Sierra Leone, Angola, Namibia and Democratic Republik of Congo are not surface diamonds, which can basically be mined with simple equipment by anybody. Botswana diamonds are deep underground and require massive investment into the mining plant. On the other hand the area of mining is therefore relatively small and does not require large tracts of land being sealed off as it is for example the case in Namibia.

First of all it is questionable, whether diamonds are in the Central Kalahari area at all, there isn’t much indication to that, but even if it would be, then the required land for mining would be less than 1% of the Kalahari Game Reserve. Survival International and it’s Stephen Corry know all this. The reason, why they continue to disseminate the false information about Botswana’s "conflict diamonds" is the pressure, they want to mount with a sales boycott of diamonds against the Botswana Government, regardless what the consequences for the people of Botswana in the present and future are. The sale of Diamonds contributes more than 70% to Botswana’s GDP.

Botswana, celebrating it’s 40th anniversary of independence on 30th September this year, is a democratic country. Stephen Corry was allowed to enter the country, despite his campaign against the Government, and put his points across locally. The discovery of diamonds , which are mined in two big mines in Orapa and Jwaneng, have enabled the country, at independenece one of the poorest in the world, to become the real success story of Africa.

The income from the sales of diamonds has enabled the country to run the only comprehensive anti-Aids program in Africa, 30.000 patients have been started on antiretrovirals, free of charge. And the income from the sales of diamonds enables me to treat my cancer patients, some of them being sent for a very costly treatment to South Africa, including members of the Basarwa. The income from the sales of diamonds has been put to good use during  all the years, resulting in a superb infrastructure.

Survival International and it´s Stephen Corry do not care about all this, anything goes, as long as it serves their campaign. I therefore regard his campaign, irrespective what good intentions they might have, as utter shameful.

Dr. Alexander von Paleske
Head, Department of Oncology
Princess Marina Hospital
Ex-Barrister-at-Law, High Court Frankfurt (M), Germany






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