A new video showing ten diamond diggers being tortured with guards wielding machetes in Angola has emerged on YouTube.
According to independent news site Maka Angola, which was founded by human rights journalist Rafael Marques, the video was filmed in April 2016. The seven minutes and 14 seconds of footage show “vicious” and “sadistic” violence against the unarmed men, who are seated on the ground.
Maka Angola reported that “the assailants have been identified as security guards working for a private company which operates in the diamond-mining region of Lunda-Norte,” a northeastern province of Angola.
Angola's diamond mining industry is notorious for human rights violations. During the country's 27-year civil war, which ended in 2002, all sides fought fiercely to rule the country after it gained independence from Portugal in 1975. Reports say one of the sides, UNITA, took control of diamond fields and started selling the precious gemstones to finance their war activities. That's where the term conflict or “blood” diamond comes from, which according to the United Nations refers to diamonds that are used to fund military action in opposition to internationally recognized governments.
Marques is an Angolan journalist who has dedicated most of his life advocating human rights in the country. His efforts have awarded him with multiple international prizes, but have also gotten him in trouble with authorities in his home country of Angola.
In May 2015, he was given a six-month suspended jail term for supposedly defaming a group of Angolan generals he cited in his book “Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola“.
“We are in 2016 and still have diggers being tortured with a machete,” Marques said in a recent interview with Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster. Many of these atrocities are carried out by former combatants who now work as private security guards, but their actions don't often make headlines. According to Marques, authorities aren't doing as much as they could be to stop it.
On Facebook, one user agreed. Commenting on Maka Angola, he wrote:
Os verdadeiros torturadores não são esses seguranças, mas sim os que estão a governar Angola.
The real torturers are not these security guards, but those who are governing Angola.
In 2015, a group of young diggers protested for not getting paid. One of the protesters was reportedly murdered by a security company officer from a diamond field. The officer hasn't been charged so far.
In December 2014, Global Voices reported a video that purportedly showed a similar incident of torture where private company's officers used machetes to injure diamond diggers. This video was first released by Marques on Maka Angola.
Despite the clear evidence of gross human rights violations associated with the diamond industry in Angola diamonds from the region are not banned by the Kimberly Process. Angola chaired the KP in 2015 while at the same time authorities there were pursuing the vindictive prosecution of Rafael Marques De Morais for exposing hundreds of examples of murder, torture, mutilation, rape and corruption by the military and others associated with the diamond industry.
Blood diamonds that fund human rights violations by government forces are exempt from regulation and allowed to freely and legally enter the legitimate diamond market where they are sold to unsuspecting consumers as conflict-free diamonds.
In May, Farai Maguwu, Executive Director, Centre for Natural Resource Governance, wrote to the chair of the Kimberley Process, Mr. Ahmed Bin Sulayem from Dubai stating “The resistance of the KP to revisit the term ‘conflict diamonds’ is primarily to ensure blood diamonds from regions like Marange continue to be sanitized by KP certificates.”
In 2014 Israeli forces attacked Gaza killing over 2400 people, mainly civilians including over 500 children. According to evidence given to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine revenue from the diamond industry generates about $1bn/yr in funding for the Israeli military which stands accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the UNHRC, AI and HRW.
As long as those with a vested interest in the blood diamond industry are allowed to veto efforts to reform the discredited Kimberley Process the trade in blood diamonds will continue to fund rogue regimes in Israel, Angola and Zimbabwe.