Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Diamonds are not a girl's best friend
Boys and young men laboring in an illegal diamond mine
in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Image copyright: Foreign Policy Magazine / Kadir van Lohuizen
Conflict diamonds. You who have read reports about the curse of an abundance of natural resources that fuel bloody conflicts and civil wars, finance the illegal arms trade, and undermines human rights around the globe know what this term means.
Foreign Policy, the award-winning magazine about global politics, economics, and ideas funded by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has introduced a new photojournalism feature called “Wide Angle”. The premiere photo essay in the 35th Anniversary issue September/October 2005 is a series titled “A Trail of Diamonds” by photographer Kadir van Lohuizen who followed the trail of the diamond trade around the world. This trail is dirty, oft-times violent and bloody, and littered with the destroyed lives of marginalized and victimized children, young people, and adults from Africa to India who work as underpaid laborers and unpaid slaves in the mining, cutting, and polishing of billions of dollars ($$$) worth of diamonds every year.
In the spirit of the Foreign Policy managing editor William Dobson who stated in an August 30th interview with PDN online reporter Daryl Lang, “I fundamentally believe that there are some stories that are best told through images…” I shall allow the photos do most of the talking today. I will address some of the issues raised in Lohuizen’s excellent series in follow-up posts to this blog in October and November 2005.
Also I am presently in talks with a German audio/video production team to record a series of audio interviews with young African men who have worked in the diamond fields of Sierra Leone before the decade-long civil war. Should be very interesting stuff for my readers and listeners, indeed.
There are measures that you the consumer can take to help stop the illegal trade in conflict diamonds and gold from Africa and elsewhere. Take a look at the Global Witness press releases here and here to better understand what you should demand of your retailers and the industry before making a purchase. Before you buy that next piece of gold and diamond jewelry for your loved one(s) or for yourself, remember these images of the laborers and slaves who suffered to extract, cut, and polish that beautiful jewel from the jungle. Help save lives by supporting the rule of law and justice, transparency in the diamond and gold mining industries and trade, fair wages, and humane working conditions for the people shown in these photo essays.
Foreign Policy magazine online: A Trail of Diamonds
Kadir van Lohuiyen (photographer): Diamond Matters (2-part essay)
Marcus Bleasdale (photojournalist): Rape of a Nation
Global Witness: Resources Conflict Courruption - Diamonds Campaign
Africa Congo India conflict diamonds
human rights child labour environment