The diamond industry is known for its selective amnesia. It conveniently forgets the continuing crisis happening in the African continent due to diamond mining until some serious issue crops out and grabs the headlines. Currently one such dispute, that is making the society contemplate again, is the ongoing situation of an Angolan journalist who has exposed serious issues related to Blood Diamonds.
Meet Rafael Marques de Morais, the face of investigative journalism in Angola. The daring reporter is the recipient of several International awards including the recent Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for his report on blood diamonds and government corruption in his home country. Marques currently faces 24 charges of criminal defamation cases as a consequence of his 2011 revolutionary book titled Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola.
In the book, he documents his investigation into diamond mines of his country, rife with murders and tortures. The book records over 500 cases of torture and 119 cases of murder that took place in just one municipality “Cuango”. The accused generals sued Marques for defamation in Portugal where the book was first published. The case was dismissed on the grounds that Marques’ research was backed up by solid information. The generals along with two other organizations are now pursuing the case in Luanda, the capital city of Angola.
In 1998, when Global witness published a report on blood diamonds, the world was shocked by the truth that their diamonds, the symbol of love and eternity, is being used to fund civil wars and thus responsible for loss of millions of innocent civilians’ lives. The agitation and awakening that followed ultimately led to the establishment of Kimberly Process by United Nations in 2003. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) defines Conflict Diamond as “rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments” and blacklists countries that sell conflict diamonds from participating in International diamond trading. Since its inception, the Kimberly Process has been facing several criticisms for its ineffectiveness. Global Witness even resigned as an official observer of Kimberly Process sighting the reason that conflict diamonds continue to fund violence and atrocities.
Even if the human rights violations documented by Marques were officially established, Kimberly Process will not stop diamond export from Angola because of its narrow definition of “Conflict Diamonds”. Rafael Marques’ trial has been scheduled to happen in May. Well Known jewelers like Tiffany & Co. and Leber Jewelers have issued statements in support of Marques, urging the government to drop charges.
More such support and awareness is need of the hour to purge the diamond industry of its brutal sins.