portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting global

human & civil rights

BLOOD DIAMOND: The Deadly Price of High Fashion

On December 8th, 2006, Warner Brothers released the action thriller Blood Diamond, and the world was reminded about the illicit African diamond trade. Set in the West African country of Sierra Leone in the 1990's, the film unfolds a story of diamond smuggling with a backdrop of child soldiers, brutal amputations, and countless senseless deaths.
The diamond-fueled mayhem that occurred in Sierra Leone is only a glimpse of the death and destruction that has ravaged West Africa since the 1990's. Over 3.7 million people have died in diamond-related conflicts. And the number is climbing.

In 2003, the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) came into force to control and monitor the diamond trade. Under the KPCS, participating governments certify diamonds as originating from a conflict-free source. Parallel to the KPCS, the diamond industry polices itself using a warranty system tracking diamonds from mines all the way to retail stores. Though the KPCS and warranty systems are a step forward, flaws in the system and its implementation allow blood diamonds to continue to enter the legitimate trade. In 2005, the UN discovered diamonds are still funding conflict in Ivory Coast. Research by Global Witness and Amnesty International in 2004 revealed that conflict-free warranties are rarely available with diamond purchases, and in 2006 that some conflict diamonds are certified as conflict-free. Human rights advocates are pressing the diamond industry and KPCS to strengthen controls and develop a comprehensive tracking system to ensure that diamonds are not fueling conflict.

You can send a letter to the World Diamond Council expressing your concerns by going here.

For more information about conflict diamonds go to GlobalExchange.org
DeBeers must have backed the movie 05.Jan.2007 15:48

reader

DeBeers literaly strongarmed russia when it commenced to market its own diamonds. The showed up in Canada also. Always ready to point fingers if strong arming doesnot work or might get too high profile!

Meanwhile back in Africa the miners are subjected to routine (each shift upon exit) x-ray examination to detect any diamonds that might have been hidden in their bodies while at work. This is far excessive, yet has not been widely reported. And you wondered why the workers lived so briefly?

In short the DeBeers "blood-free" campaign is just market warfare by other means.

Oh, do you know how many years of this "exotic and precious" commodity they have in reserves, held secretly to prop the market price? Many Decades!1

Diamonds are Forever 05.Jan.2007 19:50

jbond

The worst part is that this movie ended with the flash card "Boycott CONFLICT diamonds..." (emphasis added).

Maybe it would be better not to buy diamonds at all. After all, the money spent is discretionary, and what purpose does it serve?

The fact is: every major commodity on this planet has blood on it - oil, timber, coffee, sugar, steel, gold.... you name it. As a society we may be dependent on oil, but we sure as hell are not dependent on diamond jewelry.

peace rebel girl in india 06.Jan.2007 00:23

bloody diamonds

when i see the bloody rock of a diamond on someone i nearly puke. my friend, from sierra leone, africa, lost his father to these blooding stones. he worked in the mines and was one day found brutally murdered, cut into pieces. swear off of diamonds, forever!

oops... 06.Jan.2007 00:31

peace rebel girl in india

...i mixed up the 'author' field with the 'title' field, and then went and mispelled a word...but like my friend used to tell me, grammar won't matter after the rEvoltion!