A History of Blood Diamonds
When ever the RUF took over a big or rich diamond mine, the government would collapse economically. The soldiers of Sierra Leone were not able to get arms and ammunitions for themselves. Since the government could not pay its soldiers, some left the army and joined the RUF.
When the RUF came back they were more brutal than ever. They used amputation as a technique to scare the government. They chopped the hands off of everyone who voted for Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
In 2000 the RUF started attacking more important places such as Freetown. A small but heavily armed British intervention force was sent to Sierra Leone. The RUF was crushed. Soon both the UN force and the British force had routed the RUF and finally captured Foday Sankoh. In 2002 Ahmad Tejan Kabbah then declared the civil war was over.
After their ten year attempt at taking over the country violently, the RUF were forced by the United Nations to disarm. They became a political party in 2002 but disbanded 5 years later.
Angola is a big country in the South west part of Africa. For more than 2 decades Angola suffered from civil war. The civil war started in 1975, when Portugal granted Angola freedom, two groups were formed. One was the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). They controlled the country from the capital of Rwanda. Another group was the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). UNITA was led by Joseph Savimbi. The United States supported UNITA.
The MPLA used the revenue from the oil of the coast of Angola to arm their soldiers. In response UNITA took over all the diamond mines as a source of revenue. In 1992 UNITA took over 60%-70% of Angola’s diamond mines. Many of the people who were forced to work for UNITA became slaves to UNITA.
UNITA had a complex way of selling their diamonds. Diamond dealers from all over the world would come to UNITA, sometimes forming joint mining partnerships. Many of the diamonds would go through Antwerp, Belgium. UNITA in one year made 3.7 billion dollars. When UNITA needed arms, weapons dealers would come to them and trade diamonds for weapons. No money was involved at all.
In 1998 the United Nations banned all diamond trade from Angola that wasn’t certified by the country itself.
Sierra Leone and Angola are just some of the countries in Africa plagued with the practice of mining and selling of Blood Diamonds. Other countries have also faced brutality similar to the people of Sierra Leone and Angola .
What you can do today
Retailers cannot guarantee that the diamond you purchase is not a conflict diamond. As consumers, we have the power to change that by demanding details about the diamonds we buy. Demanding proof that a diamond is conflict-free sends a powerful message to the world that we will not support an industry or nation that helps fund terror groups. Change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if we are persistent.Canadian diamonds – the Code of Conduct
Canada has made progress in identifying diamonds originating in its mines. The Voluntary Code of Conduct for Authenticating Canadian Diamond Claims sets a standard for authentication of claims that a diamond is Canadian — and conflict free.Adhering to The Code requires each company to initiate a paper trail that tracks a diamond’s progression from the mine to its retail destination. The Code also includes rules for proper handling, packing and marking of all diamonds that are represented as Canadian stones. Even with the guidelines, there’s no way to absolutely guarantee a diamond is Canadian, but the process definitely helps eliminate doubt.The Canadian program is voluntary, so not all retailers participate. Those who do must provide consumers with: The diamond Identification Number
The retailer’s name and address
An invoice number and the date of the invoice
The polished diamond description
An explanation of the Code
A list of signatories of the Code is available online, naming retailers and wholesalers who are committed to following the Code’s procedures.
It’s difficult for most of us to imagine what life is like in countries where diamonds are the source of so much chaos and suffering, and the connection between terror and diamonds is not something that’s reported heavily in the press. The 2006 movie Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, should help make the issues more mainstream, if only temporarily.
Take some time to learn more about the problems that conflict diamonds create, then follow your heart the next time you shop for a diamond.