Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Basarwa, gov beating the bushes for Bot50 peace

United Kingdom based human rights organization has cast doubts over reports that the Botswana Government and Basarwa communities of Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) are engaged in talks ahead of the country’s 50th anniversary celebrations. 

In s a statement, Survival International said “We know that the government is listening: it has started talking to some Bushmen, which is a good sign.” 

Falling short of questioning Botswana Government’s motive, Survival International said “But many Bushmen fear these moves are just window-dressing to deflect criticism during the country’s 50th anniversary of independence.” 

According to Survival International, the court ruled that banning the Bushmen in the reserve from hunting violated the country’s constitution and was “tantamount to condemning [them] to death.”

Yet despite this, Survival International said, the government has imposed a nationwide hunting ban, effectively leaving the Basarwa to starve. 

“They are accused of “poaching” because they hunt to feed their families, and the government uses military technology to enforce a shoot on sight policy against hunters,” the statement said. 

Survival International added that the majority of the Basarwa still cannot live freely in their former homeland in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

“Couples have been separated and children, when they turn 18, must apply for one-month permits to live with their families inside the reserve,” reads the statement. 

This has been likened to South Africa’s infamous apartheid pass laws, aid Survival International. 

“Unless the government changes its mind, there will be no Bushmen living in the reserve in a few generations’ time,” claimed Survival International. 

“Ten years ago Botswana’s High Court ruled that the Central Kalahari Bushmen had been illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands. It upheld their right to live and hunt there in peace. But Botswana’s government didn’t listen. Will it change its mind in time for the country’s fiftieth birthday?” wondered Survival International. 

The human rights group reiterated that nine Basarwa were recently shot at by police from a helicopter for hunting antelope for food. They were then arrested, stripped naked and beaten. The country enforces a hunting ban which makes it hard for them to live, while big game trophy hunters are encouraged. The police have since dismissed the report by Survival as baseline. 

According to Survival International, the country’s Wildlife Minister recently said: “Poachers should start carrying their IDs so that we can notify their next of kin. Yes, God will judge the poachers but it’s up to us to arrange the meeting.”

It said the spread of “shoot on sight” tactics is just one sign of how conservation is becoming militarized and increasingly brutal. Survival International said the big conservation organizations are guilty of supporting this hey never speak out about evictions, arrests or shootings carried out in the name of conservation.

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