Project 3 - Project 3 Working Draft A Diamond in the Blood...

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Project 3 – Working Draft A Diamond in the Blood Blood diamonds, also known as conflict diamonds, are the fuel for the ongoing rebel war throughout Africa. These are diamonds that were illegally mined, traded, and sold to fund their war and buy weapons. Rooted in political and governmental conflict, power hungry insurgent groups tried to take control of the government. Today the conflict over diamonds has faded, but the countries central to the conflict were Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola. Through the efforts of the United Nations, Global Witness, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), and the World Diamond Council, blood diamonds have become increasingly regulated by The Kimberly Process and The Clean Diamond Act. “Under the Kimberly Process, diamond-producing countries pledge not to export any gems that come from areas of conflict” (sfgate.com). While steps have been taken to discontinue the illegal trade of rough diamonds, loopholes still exist, allowing trading to continue. We will begin with the history of diamond mining in Sierra Leone. The first diamonds were discovered there in 1930 and mining officially began in 1935. Since Sierra Leone is such a poor country and diamonds were plentiful, illegal mining and trading grew rapidly. This practice became widespread that by the 1950’s, the government gave up on policing most of the diamond mines. In 1968, a man named Siaka Stevens became the prime minister of the country. He encouraged illegal mining to gain political power. As a result, more and more diamonds were being exported illegally rather than through legal means. Under his authority, legitimate diamond trading dropped from more than 2 million carats in 1970 to just 48,000 carats in 1988 (worldpress.org). When Stevens left power, illegal mining reached an all-time high. By 1991, Sierra Leone’s government was completely corrupt and illegal diamond trading began to bring about armed rebellion (cnn.com). All of these events led up to the beginning of Sierra Leone’s civil war. The war began in March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front, a group of about 100 fighters, invaded eastern Sierra Leone. Over the next 11 years, this group grew and terrorized the entire country (allafrica.com). The majority of the fighting concentrated around the diamond districts. The profits made from the smuggled diamonds funded the group to continue their attacks. During this time these rebels would invade villages, killing many and forcing others to mine for
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diamonds in horrible, unsafe conditions. One tactic these rebels used was amputation. They would cut off limbs (usually both hands or arms) of civilians unwilling to cooperate with the insurgents. They mutilated thousands of people, regardless of age or gender. Rape was used as a terror tactic against women. Thousands of women were raped or abducted and forced to act as domestic sex slaves to the fighters. Many that were abducted were gang raped, beaten, starved, tortured, and forced to carry heavy loads as the rebels traveled. Any women that became
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This note was uploaded on 05/01/2008 for the course WRT 104 Sectio taught by Professor Meidland during the Fall '08 term at Rhode Island.

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Project 3 - Project 3 Working Draft A Diamond in the Blood...

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