Friday, January 21, 2011

The San - again

Socialist Banner has sympathetically and repeatedly reported on the manner that the San Bushmen are being treated by the Botswana government.

In the early 1980s, diamonds were discovered in the reserve. Soon after, government ministers went into the reserve to tell the Bushmen living there that they would have to leave because of the diamond finds. In three big clearances, in 1997, 2002 and 2005, virtually all the Bushmen were forced out. Their homes were dismantled, their school and health post were closed, their water supply was destroyed and the people were threatened and trucked away. They now live in resettlement camps outside the reserve. Rarely able to hunt, and arrested and beaten when they do, they are dependent on government handouts. They are now gripped by alcoholism, boredom, depression, and illnesses such as TB and HIV/AIDS.

The forced relocation of indigenous tribespeople by the Botswanan government was condemned by US diplomats as a "special tragedy", leaked US state department cables reveal. After visiting New Xade in 2005, ambassador Huggins condemned the manner of the relocation, saying it was "clear that people have been dumped in economically absolutely unviable situations without forethought, and without follow-up support. The lack of imagination displayed on the part of the [Botswanan government] is breathtaking." He added that "the special tragedy of New Xade's dependent population is that it could have been avoided."

In 2006, Botswanan courts ruled the San could return to their land, but also decided the government did not have to provide certain key services. The San still have no access to the borehole. A hearing was held in June 2010 but the judge dismissed their application. They are now appealing against this decision.

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