Blood, conflict, illicit, diamonds – the issue has gone global and the world became aware that the innocent girl’s best friend has been tainted by blood and become the worst nightmare for people, including children in some parts of the globe. They call them conflict diamonds because for the past several years the shiny gem has fuelled wars in conflict ridden countries in Africa. According to sources, these diamonds often originate from territories under the control of rebel groups. The profit in selling these diamonds is used to buy small arms and munitions that are used to fight the wars for liberation.
They call them blood diamonds because of all the bloodshed the diamonds have caused, because through these diamonds, wars are being fuelled, men women and children get killed, and slavery has found nesting places. Partnership Africa Canada reports that “upwards of 50,000 [have been] killed, half the population displaced, and more than two-thirds of its already severely limited infrastructure destroyed. ” Mining the Diamonds Rebel groups such as the RUF of Sierra Leone and UNITA of Angola, in order to mine blood diamonds enslave civilians in mining camps.
They are treated as prisoners and are not paid for their services. What is shocking is that most of these miners are children. The worst of all is that aside from being used as miners, these children are being forced to become soldiers too. Young girls are being raped into submission, while young boys are forced to carry guns and kill elders in order to psychologically control them. Drugs are also being used. Once the children become hooked up to it, their dependence on it will equate to their loyalty to the movement. The rough diamonds that are mined are then sold into the black market.
Struggling for Social Justice After the world has become witness to the horrors of the mining camps in Africa, a lot of activities have gone through. Celebrities, Organizations, special interest groups – all want to be involved in fighting the war against blood diamonds. In 2000, the World Diamond Congress adopted the Kimberly Process, which is mainly a system of tracing whether a diamond being sold in the market is not a conflict diamond or not. Groups such as Amnesty USA and Stopblood diamonds. org have posted blogspots in the net to keep the bigger part of the globe aware and updated regarding the issue.
The Belgian government has been very keen on its local diamond dealers. At blooddiamonds. com, the organized efforts of the Belgian government can be seen. Even celebrities have joined the cause. Leonard de Caprio starred in the movie Blood Diamond in order to reach the pop culture. Kanye West’s song ‘Blood diamond’ shows his own self conflict with the diamonds. In the line “See a part of me say keep shinin? ’ How when I know what a blood diamond is…” The music video of this song also shows how children are forced to mine the rough diamonds in small dimly lit caves.
These and all other efforts are forms mentioned are forms of activism. Whether through the net, newspaper, Hollywood movies, songs, and documentaries, these conscious efforts to actively participate in the struggle to expose and eradicate the conflict diamonds are all forms of activism. Activism as a Solution Activism takes many forms. Different social injustices often require different form of fighting. The blood diamonds in Africa have had activists use the radio, television, news paper and the internet in its struggle.
But aside from these forms, it may also be useful to look into other ways that other political activists have used. One example of which are the Yes Men. They use guerilla performances and impersonate big corporations. Through their media hoaxing and socio political pranks, the group has humiliated the big corporations and the new masters of the world, thus exposing them to the masses. Once in a Wharton Business School Conference, they posed as representatives of the World Trade Organization, and announced that WTO proposes “full private stewardry of labor” in Africa.
This means formal slavery of laborers by private organizations. One Yesmen member posing as Hanniford Schmidt addressed that “This is what free trade is all about…It’s about freedom to buy and sell everything, even people. ” Clearly these are not what we read in books or what the media reports when they talk about the WTO. But through the guerilla tactics of posing as real representatives of big corporations and significant political players, the Yesmen expose these people and in a way educate the masses of the sad realities that happen. Another activist worthy of looking at is award winning journalist Naomi Klein.
Her book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”, critiques globalization and new age capitalism and how these cause social injustices in the world. These two activists that battle it out with the mammoths of politics and business allows the world to look into a deeper level about what is behind the social injustices that plague the world. Aside from directly battling the issue of conflict diamonds, the bigger issue can be brought up which cause these more specific social injustices. These activists trace the root of the problem as to why injustices happen throughout the world, especially in third world countries.
African countries aren’t poor because they are simply poor. What are the causes of these phenomenons? Marx’s dialectical materialism urges the people to engage in knowing the truths through investigating the objective conditions and identifying the roots that cause events. If there are political conflicts in Africa, what then causes these? If there are no conflicts, then there would be no need for blood diamonds in the first place; outside of the mining camps and warlords running these camps, who else are involved in the blood diamond business?
Clearly, there has to be buyers of rough diamonds. Aren’t these buyers the big corporations that polish and sell the end product diamonds? Another thing we can learn about Marx is his critique on capitalism in the Communist Manifesto. He urges the masses to join in the revolution of overthrowing the current socioeconomic structure because it is a necessity for this structure is no longer suitable to our generation. Capitalism has brought about new social classes that will always be in conflict with each other.
Capitalism does not balance the equation of labor and production. If labor is equal to the end product, then a laborer should be entitled to the total profit of his labor. But through capitalism, the owner of the capital has a cut in the final profit therefore, diminishing the returns to the laborer. Most of the times, the laborers are even abused. According to Marx this equation will never be balanced out unless the capitalist is eradicated and the management of the distribution of labor and wealth be done in a collective manner.
The capitalists in the blood diamond trade are the root causes of the social injustice and through education of the masses this would help in bringing down this injustice. The Numbers Different organizations report different numbers on the amount of conflict diamonds that enter the market. According to worldfacts. org, only 1% now remains. But if the independent blog spots sponsored by activists groups, there is still a big 15% that remains. Washington post acknowledges that these two numbers may both be true, it just depends on the definition of what conflict diamonds are.
But the sad fact remains that may it be 15 or 1, still, there is that percentage which means conflict diamonds are still being mined and that somewhere, in a dimly lit cave in Africa, blood is being used to fuel the laborers that fuel the unending conflicts that plague their nations. Another sad irony is that these diamond mining companies are among the poorest in the world. From here we ask the question, where then does the profit from these precious gems go? Clearly not to the hands that dug them from the earth. References
Afanansyev V. G. (1987). Historical Materialism. International Publishers. Brown, P. P. (December 13, 2005). Blood Diamonds. Retrieved on May 17, 2009 from http://www. worldpress. org/Africa/2193. cfm Conflictdiamonds. com. (2005). Progress Reports. Retrieved on May 17, 2009, from http://www. conflictdiamonds. com/pages/reports Diamondfacts. org. Diamond Facts. Retrieved May 17, 2009 from http://www. diamondfacts. org Duke, L. (2006). Blood Diamonds, A River or a Droplet?. Retrieved May 17, 2009 from Washingtonpost. com
History Channel. (2006) Blood Diamonds. Retrieved on May 17, 2009, from www. history. com/thc_Blood _diamonds_pressrelease. pdf Marx, Karl. (1888). The Communist Manifesto. Naomiklein. org. (2007). About Naomi Klein. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from http://www. naomiklein. org/meet-naomi The Yesmen. (June 2007). WTO Proposes Slavery for Afirca. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from http://theyesmen. org/en/hijinks/wharton. UnitedNations. (march 21, 2001). Conflict Diamonds : Sanctions and War. Retrieved May 17, 2009, from www. un. org.