All Articles Tagged "blood diamonds"
Naomi Campbell Has Become The Poster Child for The Blood Diamonds Trial But Is The Attention Misguided?
by Charing Ball
Diamonds are supposed to be a girl’s best friend but in the case of Naomi Campbell, they have become her worst enemy.
The queen of mean, mostly known these days for beating assistants with cell phones, was in court last Friday answering questions before the Special Courts of Sierra Leone as to whether or not she had accepted a blood diamond from Charles Taylor, the infamous former president of Liberia, who is accused of dozens of crimes against humanity in neighboring Sierra Leone.
Campbell’s testimony in the court case, which had started in 2007, has attracted the attention of almost every major – and minor – news outlet from New York Times to Access Hollywood. Some news stations and print media stations have even created live feeds and up-to-minute blog accounts of every single riveting detail of her testimony including what she was wearing and hairstyle choices.
And poor old Naomi, who admits to receiving the “dirty little pebbles” in a late night visit from a couple of Taylor’s associates while a guest of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, told the courts that she had never heard of Liberia before.
Well, I guess prior to Campbell’s appearance, neither had the rest of the world.
Charles Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996, to January 18, 2002. The Prosecutor alleges that Mr. Taylor is responsible for ordering the murders and mutilation of civilians. These heinous crimes included cutting off their limbs; using women and girls as sex slaves; and abducting children and forcing them to perform forced labor or become fighters during the conflict in Sierra Leone.
It is alleged that Taylor had financially backed the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, who seized control of the diamonds mined in Sierra Leone and then smuggled them into his country for the purpose of trading for guns and ammunition, which was then used to allegedly murder and mane opposition. During the time of the conflict, upwards of 50,000 were killed, thousands of others were maimed and half the population had was displaced.
And yet all media attention has been able to focus on is Naomi, who was only ordered under subpoena to give evidence after another celebrity, Mia Farrow, reported the transaction. And while I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan of Campbell, the fact that she and her alleged blood diamonds, also known as conflict diamonds, are at the center of media frenzy has diminished the overall severity of what is ultimately being alleged.
Whether or not she actually received a “blood” conflict diamond is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Campbell is a single, minor witness amongst a long line of folks, who, in my opinion, have a lot to answer for.
First, there was the United Nations and its slow reaction to the conflict, which had been happening for 10 years before it had intervene with unenforceable sanctions and subsequent military intervention.
Then there is the precious minerals industry itself, which has unknowingly – and in many cases knowingly – operated mines in Sierra Leone and other countries where diamonds were being used as war currency. Many of these diamond dealers had removed itself from operations at the time of the conflicts but operated in a manner, which enabled them to purchase from any source legally or illegally.
And what part does the international consumer play in the continuation of the conflict in Sierra Leone and elsewhere? It may be a hard truth to swallow but it is our own insatiable lust for, what Campbell would call, those little dirty pebbles, which have made America the largest consumer of conflict diamonds according to Global Witness.
And if we are in need of a pseudo celebrity angle, how about Pat “deal with the devil” Robertson. Taylor testified in his own war crimes trial that the American conservative evangelist was awarded a Liberian gold-mining concession in 1999 and subsequently offered to lobby the Bush administration to support Taylor’s government.
Those are just a few entities you will unlikely hear or read about via the mainstream media as they are not as Hot of a story as say a statuesque, international supermodel with a thing for diamond-wielding midnight visits.
In some respects, I shouldn’t be too dismayed over the media frenzy as our celeb-induced culture dictates that we should pay attention to what our athletes, models, rappers and actors tell us is important. And no doubt that Campbell’s appearance at the trial has pulled the issue of conflict diamonds from obscurity and back onto the main stage, making her the unwilling yet glamorous poster child for conflict war diamonds.
We must remember that there are other places like Sierra Leone that are also being exploited for their natural resources. Places such as the Ivory Coast, where children are being forced to harvest in cocoa fields under abusive conditions, or in the eastern part of the Congo, where coltan mines have been militarized and have further fueled conflict there. Perhaps if Naomi Campbell is photographed drinking hot coco while surfing the internet on her brand new gifted smart phone from some rebel group, we might be forced to pay attention.
by R. Asmerom
Russell Simmons obviously needs no introduction. His numerous successes as a business and media mogul are rivaled only by a few others in the world. Despite all his successes, however, Simmons is not immune from the criticism of his politics. We recently questioned Simmons’ stance on the diamond industry in light of Naomi Campbell’s current entanglement with the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Chuck Taylor. In 2006, Simmons’ take on the diamond industry was highlighted when the film Blood Diamonds opened. Instead of explaining the situation further, we decided to have Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Governing Board Co-President of Simmons’ Diamond Empowerment Fund, address the issue of Blood Diamonds and the work of their Diamond Empowerment Fund. Here’s what the two had to say:
On Simmon’s relationship with the diamond business…
I am not in and have never been in the diamond mining business, I am in the jewelry business. My involvement in the diamond business is to help bring greater support around education initiatives for Africans and is a non-profit, philanthropic initiative. I do not profit from my efforts around education for Africans. I do not make money from Africa. I make money for Africa.
On how Simmons formulated his opinions on the relationship between diamonds and African development…
Our stance on the diamond industry’s participation in the development and empowerment of people in Africa where diamonds are a natural resource was developed after direct consultation from African leaders such as Nelson Mandela and others who are indigenous to major diamond producing African nations. Prior to establishing the Diamond Empowerment Fund, we traveled to Africa specifically on a fact-finding mission to witness first hand what was happening with the diamond industry in South Africa and Botswana. We also traveled to Mozambique to have a private meeting with former South African President Mandela.
We also met with leading Africa businessmen such as Patrice Motsepe and we met with then President Festus Mogae of Botswana and other regional and local officials in South Africa and Botswana. We also reviewed Business Leadership South Africa’s “The Stuff of Legends: Diamonds and Development in Southern Africa” study published in November 2006. BLSA is an association of South Africa’s largest corporations and major multinational companies with a significant presence in South Africa. The study independently determined that the diamond industry has been a positive force in the economic development of Southern Africa.
Further, we visited schools both in Botswana and South Africa, such as CIDA City Campus in Johannesburg. We spoke with workers, family members, and visited schools and hospitals in mining communities. We also met with tribal leaders in both Botswana and South Africa who expressed their support of the diamond industry’s contributions to the ongoing development of their communities. We assessed first-hand our observations of how these communities were being positively impacted and the quality of life in these communities was being directly improved as beneficiaries of revenue generated through the diamond industry. We also met with miners, as well as native Africans who were working throughout the chain of the diamond pipeline, specifically those employed in the sorting, cutting, polishing, and valuation of diamonds. These are all highly-skilled workers, and seeing all of these people at work was in direct contradiction to what we were told – that no black Africans were employed in the diamond industry in Africa.
One of the key questions of our fact-finding mission was to determine the extent to which the diamond industry was being accountable to these communities. Of the various industries that extract minerals, and other natural resources from Africa, we were encouraged by how the diamond industry works with communities at the local, regional and national level to adhere to standards of engagement that have led to the empowerment of people and communities where diamonds are a natural resource.
(Guardian UK) — Gamba has just bought big. This week he paid $22,000 (£14,300) for a single diamond. Judging by the big wad of folded US dollar bills in his pocket, it will not be his last. In three years Gamba estimates he has made more than $200,000 from black market diamond dealing, enough to buy his family a house and three cars. He is a crucial link in a chain said to connect Zimbabwe‘s “blood diamonds” with Mozambique, South Africa, Dubai, Belgium and, ultimately, Bond Street in London and Fifth Avenue in New York.
(The Loop 21) — Recently, Russell Simmons, hip hop mogul and generally a brilliant guy in all things related to business, tried to justify his new RushCard as being pro-black. Simmons could talk to the glue off wallpaper. But there is nothing he can say to justify his political stance and his holdings and investments in the diamond industry that kills and mutilates thousands of Africans yearly as they mine diamonds sometimes by force and sometimes for the equivalent of pennies. It is the most disgusting and vile of all the corporate and wealth-driven rapings of Africa, even more so than Nigeria’s oil mines.
Last week, in light of the controversy surrounding supermodel Naomi Campbell’s summons to testify in a war crimes trial for former Liberian President Charles Taylor, we published a piece comparing Campbell’s level of involvement in supporting “blood diamonds” with that of hip-hop mogul’s Russell Simmons. In the statement below, Simmons defends his stance on the diamond industry in Africa.
When the Blood Diamond movie hit theatres in 2006, I had a position about diamonds and Sub-Saharan Africa, and in 2010 as there continue to be issues surrounding diamonds fueling greed and oppression of Africa, I have a position about diamonds and Sub-Saharan Africa. As simply as I can state my position on this complicated issue is if you come from a land like Africa, rich in the natural resource of diamonds, you should not be poor. Africans should have opportunities to empower themselves through education. That is my vision which is shared by everyone associated with the Diamond Empowerment Fund, the non-profit I founded in 2007 with others in the international diamond and jewelry industry which is dedicated to empowerment through education for young Africans in diamond producing nations.
I am not here to defend the diamond industry, but it’s a fact that diamonds are an important natural resource for Africa, and an important industry for diamond-producing nations. As with all natural resources around the world, here are complicated, moral questions that surround their extraction and who stands to benefit. In 2006, President Nelson Mandela personally asked me to share with those who would listen that the diamond industry provides great benefit to his nation of South Africa. At that same time, President Festus Mogae of Botswana shared with me his perspective on the fundamental role the diamond industry has had in the development of his nation into one of Africa’s most highly educated, prosperous nations, and that was powerful information for me. Yes, I do believe diamonds do more good than harm for Africa, but there’s tremendous needs that must be addressed for the people in diamond producing nations to overcome extreme poverty.
There’s so much more that must be done to help, and the Diamond Empowerment Fund is at work every day to raise awareness within the industry that there’s big need in the communities where diamonds come from. There’s a great opportunity for enlightened self interest to help improve the lives of the people where this natural resource comes from that they’ve profited from for many years and I believe the way to help is through supporting education projects like CODA City Campus and African Leadership Academy, which are opening doors for young Africans to build productive futures.
We would welcome a true dialogue on these issues with the Atlanta Post, instead of the uninformed assumptions you are perpetuating about the motives for my views and actions around promoting the good for Africa that comes
What do you think of Mr. Simmons’ stance? Let us know your thoughts and any questions you may have for Mr. Simmons and stay tuned for a follow-up interview with the music mogul.
Supermodel/ diva extraordinaire Naomi Campbell is in some hot water for allegedly accepting blood diamonds from the corrupt and former leader of Liberia, Chuck Taylor. Campbell has been called to testify at a war crimes trial later this month and her testimony could potentially invalidate Taylor’s claim that he never owned or traded diamonds, which many believe he used to “finance a rebellion in Sierre Leone in the 1990s.”
While Campbell has certainly shown a clear reluctance to get involved and even has denied receiving diamonds from Taylor, her actions, albeit passive, are not surprising or that disappointing. Most people in her situation would’ve accepted the gift. She has never claimed to be a role model or leader and is very comfortable with her role as a fashion model and celebrity and nothing more.
Russell Simmons, however, does fashion himself a leader. And he is a leader, who in 2006, came out in criticism of the film “Blood Diamonds.” Although nothing’s confirmed, it was suspected that DeBeers recruited Simmons to speak out on their behalf. While so many people have continuously worked to expose the dysfunctional and damaging relationship between the diamond trade and unrest and dysfunction in many African countries, here was Simmons telling everyone that diamonds do more good than harm, based on a “fact-finding” mission he went on, sponsored most likely by DeBeers.
Whether he really believed what he was saying or not, Simmons should take stock of his level of power and influence amongst Black America especially when endorsing such a delicate matter. Campbell may be getting all the attention these days for her involvement with Mr. Taylor but Simmons’ earlier actions and publicity tour for the diamond industry has had a much more far-reaching and direct affect on the public’s perceptions.
We know someone who’s having the worst week ever.
Looks like Madame Naomi Campbell is in hot water again. Actress Mia Farrow had witnessed Campbell receiving diamonds from former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, and testified about it in court. Now the court wants Campbell to speak up–and Taylor’s lawyers are crying foul. From Campbell’s cell-phone throwing days to her recent ABC camera-bashing, Campbell’s life seems to be a bonafide legal drama.
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