When most people think of the effects of diamond mining on humanity, they most likely think of the appalling human rights abuse by war lords in Africa. Although that is true, most people do not put the connection closer to home.
We hear over and over again…in 2001, 19 hijackers hijacked 4 commercial planes and flew 2 in to the Twin Towers, one into the pentagon and one into a farm. However, Did you know that diamonds helped fund the 9/11 attack on America? Al Qaeda (re-branded ISIS) had laundered millions of dollars by buying untraceable diamonds from the rebels (RUF of Sierra Leone, according to FBI sources). United States and its allies in the “war on terrorism” froze more than $100 million worth of Al Qaeda assets. But the terrorists have an ace in the hole in the form of diamonds from Sierra Leone, wealth that can be easily and quickly sold and is virtually untraceable.
Death from Diamond-Fueled Civil Wars
Since World War II, it is estimated that there have been more than 150 wars. Studies show that 80% (120) of these wars have been civil wars in developing countries mostly funded by Natural Resources. Deaths from diamond-fueled Civil Wars have been eight times greater than all U.S. Military Deaths in the last 70 years.
Exploration and mining distort and disrupt the cultural and social lives of native people and the regional economy and very few of the financial benefits from the mines return to the people who suffer most of the impacts.
The Worth of a Human Life
There is a newsroom truism in the USA that “one dead fireman in Brooklyn is worth five English bobbies, who are worth 50 Arabs, who are worth 500 Africans.” This is a horrible in-congruence; however, the reality is much, much worse.
From the perspective of the news media in the West, 500 Africans have nowhere near that kind of value. The death toll from conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one thousand times greater than that in Israel-Palestine, yet it is the latter that is the object of far greater media coverage, if that is any indication of the news value of the two conflicts. The numbers of victims from conflict in Israel-Palestine are counted down to the last digit and the intricacies and nuances of the conflict, political situation and peace process are almost obsessively analyzed and presented. Death tolls from most African conflicts (if anyone bothers to count) are usually rounded off to the nearest one hundred thousand (at times the nearest million) and the conflicts are frequently brushed off and dismissed as being chaotic, or worthy of some vague pity or humanitarian concern, but rarely of any in-depth political analysis.
A conflict that had caused 2,000 deaths by late 1998 in Kosovo, for example, became seen as a humanitarian tragedy of epic proportions that simply could not be ignored. Doing something about it was widely accepted as a moral responsibility—a pure case of ‘humanitarianism.’ And yet, at the same time, millions of human lives were being lost in Africa—the multinational invasion of the DRC was in full swing; brutal rebellions were wreaking havoc in Angola and Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia and Eritrea were engaged in heavy fighting over their border. Each of these conflicts alone was far worse than that in Kosovo, but humanitarian principles simply did not appear to apply to these humans.
Could the absence of these countries in the international media radar have something to do with the fact that these countries are the world’s largest producer of many natural resources that the western world can now not live without and mined by many western multinational corporations?
US military deaths
Past 70 years 521,098
Civil War: 1961 – 2002
Killed: More than 500,000 people
Causalities: Maiming by landmines
Diamonds: Rebel group UNITA controlled 60-70% of diamond production
United Nations: Diamond sanctions imposed in 1998, lifted in 2002
Democratic Republic of Congo
Civil War: 1998 – 2003 with continuing insecurity
Killed: More than 3.3 million people
Diamonds: Rebel groups supported by neighboring countries competed for diamond areas in the northeast
United Nations: Diamond sanctions were never imposed
Civil War: 1991 – 2002
Killed: More than 50,000 people
Causalities: Mutilation, rape, torture, and abduction
Diamonds: Rebel group RUF was mining up to $125 million of diamonds annually
United Nations: Diamond sanctions imposed in 2000, lifted in 2003
Civil War: 1989 – 1997 and 2000 – 2003
Killed: More than 200,000 people
Causalities: Human rights violations and 1 million displaced
Diamonds: Conduit for RUF diamonds and arms imports
United Nations: Diamond sanctions imposed in 2001, reapplied annually and most recently in October 2006