Diamonds, more specifically blood diamonds, caused injustice to occur within the human race. Blood Diamonds are the diamonds that are mined without the volition of a person through force. Ground zero of this conflict is Africa mainly during the 1990’s. During this time, countries such as Angola and Sierra Leone broke out into civil wars and used the diamonds as their war fund. All this left a scar of injustice upon the world, which has been partially healed by the Kimberly Process, which is a system of checks and balances to check for the integrity of the diamond and confirm no conflict occurred during the mining. Groups such as the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola and the Revolutionary United Front swarmed through civilian towns performing injustice acts of enslaving people for the mines, violence, tearing families apart, and in sum drastically changed around 4 million innocent lives for the worse.
Diamonds first appeared as a war fund in the country of Angola. Angola had been at civil war since 1975. UNITA, the rebel group in the country was being funded by the United States, though after the cold war the US pulled out. UNITA needed a source of funds to continue it’s war. One of Africa’s largest resources was seen as that funding. Diamonds found in Africa became known as blood diamonds after the cold war (Gilmore 560).
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UNITA took control of the mines and used the civilians as the miners. The civilians had no choice, UNITA members had guns and threaten the people with the loss of their lives if they did not do as told. The UN tried to intervene in Angola’s affairs by having an election in 1992 to bring hope back to Angola, which caused even more problems. UNITA became enraged, and started performing amputations on the people’s limbs, so they would not be able to vote and so that the civilians would know who not to disobey.
Amputations became a serious war tactic used by UNITA. Innocent people’s limbs were taken off through violent force to push fear throughout the common people. Diamond embargoes were then placed on Angola by the UN to help keep the diamonds from funding the massive destruction of the people in the country. Though the embargoes did little, the rebel forces continued their brutal tactics in enslaving the innocent into the diamond mines. The diamonds, known as blood diamonds now, caused injustice to occur within Angola. The diamonds were the fuel for the fire and the fire was the unstoppable element of UNITA. As long as the world wanted diamonds UNITA would still have the fuel for war by terrorizing innocent lives into slavery.
As UNITA’s war against Angola waged on it left behind half a million people dead, many of which were fighting a war that they did not want to fight. Eighty-six-thousand people were left injured and maimed (Farah 289).
It is estimated that nearly 3.7 billion dollars was pocketed by UNITA from diamond sales during the civil war between 1992 and 1999 alone (Gilmore 17).
During the war, UNITA was vicious and spared no one with their attacks. UNITA was very cruel and unjust to the people in the mines, they made pregnant women lay down on their stomach with their belly in a hole so that the baby wouldn’t be killed as they received 25 lashes for discipline just because UNITA felt like disciplining. Anyone who wept while viewing this disciplinary action would receive the same treatment. The diamonds were what turned on the greed and savageness within UNITA. The African blood diamonds caused much injustice to the common people of Africa.
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Diamonds changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Angola, many of which had never even seen a diamond. One of every three hundred and fifty people in Angola is an amputee, which is one of the highest ratios in the world(Campbell 76).
During the civil war nearly 2 million people were forced to flee from their homes and hundreds of thousands of people are still facing war-induced famine(Farah 123).
Even with the civil war over, currently there are still almost 15 million active land mines in the country. People are starving and yet they cannot be helped because 70% of the people facing famine live in an area that is controlled by UNITA. UNITA said that they couldn’t guarantee the safety of international aid workers in their territory. This is a huge problem of injustice, the Angolan government is cracking down on trying to eliminate their blood diamonds. Unfortunately, the curse of the blood diamond moved into another country Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone had similar problems with their government as Angola did. The Revolutionary United Front (RUF), was another rebel movement and they too chose diamonds to be their source of income. Diamonds were easy to smuggle out of the country, and the most beneficial towards the gross income. Soriuous Samura, the director of the capital of Sierra Leone, said “Much of our wealth has come from things that most people have little knowledge of. They have torn Sierra Leone apart in a bloody civil war, because who controls them controls the country. They are diamonds”(Campbell 112).
The RUF also used brutal inhumane force to go throughout Sierra Leone and take the diamond mines. Every village in their way would be brutally tormented. They were also unjust towards the youth The RUF recruited young boys and made them kill their parents before joining the RUF. A scar would be cut into the boy’s flesh with a crude iron knife “R U F”. The end result was a scar with each letter of RUF. The unjust acts of the RUF were so unbelievable that new laws had to be written for the Geneva Conventions that countered those of the RUF. A game was played among the soldiers in their off time, were the men would guess the gender of the fetus in a pregnant captured mother then cut her open and see who was correct (Campbell 89).
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When done with the game the men would just leave the women and her child to die on the ground under the hot African sun. Even, the “good guys” acted cruel, Nigerians trying to liberate a town found a nine year old retarded boy, who was thought to be a RUF sniper, he was stripped down, beaten, and tortured to death.
All of these unthinkable humanly acts against humanity were enforced through weapons that were funded by all the diamonds mined out of the ground through slave work. AK-47s, RPGs, GPMG, ammunition, and even helicopters were purchased from the profits made off of blood diamonds. If that was not bad enough, people around the world were funding the war without knowing it, and funding the torture and slaughter of their own race. Though African diamonds soon became illegal, they still found there way onto the market.
Sierra Leone had a significant amount of diamonds in circulation on the “black market”. In 1999, Sierra Leone’s official report was that diamond exports were about $1.2 million, compared to a conservative industry estimate of nearly $70 million, as the actual selling value (Hart 168).
The other 68 million of estimated value was lost among criminal activity. Local and international smuggling allowed the RUF to market diamonds in the international markets. Blood diamonds can be found all over the world, and they are so prevalent in today’s society that they could account for nearly 20-30% of the total world trade market (Hart 178).
Blood diamonds in Sierra Leone caused an estimate of between 20,000 and 50,000 deaths from 1991 to the present day (Farah 54).
There were also 5,000 to 5,400 children in combat roles in Sierra Leone. The RUF used drugs and alcohol to tempt the young boys, whose ages started at seven. Platoons of child soldiers were formed, who only knew their officers as their parents. Young girls were used too, mostly as cooks and sex slaves. All these unjust acts went on during the entire war.
For nine years, the RUF controlled the diamond trade in Sierra Leone which funded the civil war against the government. Millions of dollars in diamonds were mined every month, and then smuggled out of the country and sold for the cash needed to keep on the fighting. In 1999, the Lome Peace Agreement was signed and Sierra Leone’s civil war came to an end. The majority of the cruelty was over.
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After the civil wars of the two main countries, a process was created to try to stop the exchange of blood diamonds and bring justice to the people of Africa. In April 2003, the United Nations passed a resolution to help limit the trading of Blood Diamonds. This resolution was the the Kimberley Process. The Kimberley Process was a certification scheme for rough diamonds that have not yet been nationally certified. The process includes the notion of location of the diamonds, measurements, and exporters all of which say that the diamond has not funded crimes against humanity. The Kimberley Process was established by southern African diamond producing countries in 2000. Nearly 50 countries that produce and trade in the stones are now involved in the Kimberley Process (Conflict Diamonds).
The UN published a list of countries that have met its monitoring requirements by introducing national certification schemes that made legal trade in diamonds transparent and secure. If a country is on the list it means they will be allowed to trade in diamonds under the scheme, while countries that have not met the UN requirements will be excluded. The exact success of the process still remains unknown to whether or not the correct diamonds are getting a seal of approval to be exported.
“It has been said that war is the price of peace… Angola and Sierra Leone have already paid too much. Let them live a better life” (Conflict Diamonds).
That important quote by the Ambassador Juan Larrain, Chairman of the monitoring mechanism on sanctions against UNITA. He depicts how much trouble and injustice was brought to Africa because of the diamond. Over the years, the diamond rightfully earned its name as the blood diamond. The diamonds were used to fund civil wars and destroy the lives of innocent people in the middle of the wars. People were so obsessed with power that children were carrying around machine guns to help protect their interest. Countries such as Angola and Sierra Leone today in sum have nearly 100,000 amputees living in specially designed camps, because of what was done to them during the civil wars, hands, legs, ears are missing from many innocent people, who had never even seen a diamond. The atrocities that humans wrought against the other humans were so unbelievable and unjust towards their own race. Towns were strewn with body parts after battles, women were mutilated, and families were torn apart. Though in the end the world tried to fix these scars with the Kimberly Process so, that no new scars would be created. Still, the crimes that were committed from the rebel groups were an atrocity to the human race and unjust to the world.
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