Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bushmen - the attempted genocide continues

We have posted before here about the harrassment and oppression of the indigenous peoples of southern Africa , the Bushmen . We sadly report that this is continuing .

The Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve have been forced from their ancestral lands in a wave of evictions by the Botswana government. In 2006 they won an historic legal victory when Botswana's High Court ruled that their eviction was 'unlawful and unconstitutional'. Yet , since then the government has arrested more than 50 Bushmen for hunting to feed their families, and banned the Bushmen from using their water borehole during one of the fiercest droughts in years. Hundreds still languish in resettlement camps, unable or scared to return home. Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, "The Botswana government has had nearly a year to implement the court’s ruling. It’s now clear it has no intention of doing so..."

There are 100,000 Bushmen in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Angola. They are the indigenous people of southern Africa, and have lived there for tens of thousands of years. In the middle of Botswana lies the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, a reserve created to protect the traditional territory of the 5,000 Gana, Gwi and Tsila Bushmen (and their neighbours the Bakgalagadi), and the game they depend on.
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. There is plans for a massive diamond mine worth $2.2 billion on the Bushmen’s land.

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. Unless they can return to their ancestral lands, their unique societies and way of life will be destroyed, and many of them will die.

Details emerged of the torture and beating of a group of Bushmen in Kaudwane resettlement camp, Botswana. Fifteen men were arrested in late September for hunting, and at least ten of them were tortured. Police and wildlife guards took three of the men , made them run through the desert for several hours in high temperatures, following them in vehicles. They beat the three with sticks, kicked them, jumped on them and tightened car inner tubes around the necks . Another group of three were made to run through the desert in a separate incident. Other Bushmen were beaten with sticks, threatened, punched, slapped, held without food or water, and had handcuffs tightened around their wrists until they were forced to confess to hunting. A Bushman died in 2005 a few weeks after he was beaten and tortured by wildlife scouts.

Stephen Corry said , ‘Botswana’s police and wildlife guards have tortured or beaten at least 63 Bushmen for hunting over the past three years, and they’ve arrested 53 this year alone. Their policy couldn’t be clearer – to terrorise the Bushmen so that they’re too afraid to go home. It’s a policy that is both brutal, and doomed to failure.’


Peter N. Jones said...

This is very informative, sadly we don't hear about it much in the US. For a slightly more uplifting article on the Bushmen, I suggest the article on the Indigenous Issues Today news blog. Thanks again for the info.

wpik said...

I agree every indigenous abuse like this deserves attention; but, you should not mis-use the legally defined term of "genocide".

Genocide is already being abused by GW Bush and his Bechtel / Washington / cronies who are using a civil war in Darfur Sudan to cover-up the U.S. funded genocide profiteering in places like West New Guinea where the law experts have confirmed genocide is happening - in its case for over 45 years!

e.g. see Genocide

Genocide is not about mass murder or how quickly it is done; Genocide involves complete denial of any escape or any acknowledgment that the victims are human. Putting human beings in gas chambers by the Nazi, or the Indonesian military raping only the Papuan women and girls, bombing and burning villages for the Freeport and other U.S. mines, trucking other villages from their highland homes to a lowlands where a third of the people were dead within a year - and all while the Papuan people have been forbidden to cross the border by Indonesia & Australia / PNG to escape.. Forbidden to raise their West Papuan flag, forbidden to talk about their legal rights..

ajohnstone said...

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, religious or national group. While precise definition varies among genocide scholars, the legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of the CPPCG defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."[1]

i think the above does cover what is going on in Botswana as the article quoted explains the measures taken will create situation ; "...deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part..." that "...their unique societies and way of life will be destroyed,"

But i accept that the word and meaning can be undermined by over-use .

A bunch of crazy chickens said...

the situation of todays world is just as disheartening as it was in the past. We say our greatest accomplishment is progress yet I see none in the way of human kindness. though technological advances litter our history books we do not seem any closer to altering our downhill spiral in relationship to the treatment of others.
That is not to say that efforts are not being made, for they are. I was just reading article that talks about genocide through the ages in Africa and this new documentary WAR/DANCE. it sounds pretty interesting. I recommend you read it.