Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bushmen still persecuted

Bushmen in Botswana's Central Kalahari game reserve have requested the Dalai Lama, to appeal to the government on their behalf for restoring their rights over ancestral lands during his upcoming visit to the African country.

Bushman spokesman Jumanda Gakelebone asked the Dalai Lama to urge Botswana's president Ian Khama "to listen to us and respect our rights".

Hundreds of Bushmen were evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of conservation, and moved into government camps between 1997 and 2002, following the discovery of diamonds in the Kalahari desert.
Botswana's High Court ruled in 2006 that more than 1,000 San Bushmen had been wrongly evicted and should be allowed to return. But the government continues to enforce a permit system, which rights group Survival International has compared to apartheid-era pass laws. "We still cannot live on our lands freely. The government makes it so that children must apply for permits to visit their parents when they become adults," Gakelebone said in the letter published by Survival International.
The Bushmen are also accused of poaching when they hunt to feed their families, and face arrests and beatings under a nationwide hunting ban, rights groups say. "Yet the government is happy for mining to take place on our ancestral land." The United Nation's special representative on cultural rights in 2014 questioned why the San were evicted to conserve wildlife while diamond mining has been allowed to continue.
"No independent observer believes the Bushmen pose any kind of risk to the country's wildlife," said Survival International Director Stephen Corry.
 "We are the first people of the Kalahari. We are the ones who have protected this land and the animals that live there," the letter said.

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