Davi Yanomami, a renowned Indian leader from Brazil’s Amazon, has made an emotional plea to the Botswana government to let Basarwa of Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) live on their land “in peace for the rest of their lives”. Yanomami, UN Global 500 award winner, spoke this Thursday, from Berlin where he is holding meetings with top German politicians.
“I don’t think it’s good how the Botswana government is treating the original indigenous people in Botswana. It is prohibiting them from using water – but we all drink and need water. The water is on their land and comes from there – it’s for all the Bushmen. The Bushmen have the right to use their own land. They can’t abandon their sacred places which they know.
“I am a Yanomami and I think that the Botswana government doesn’t like the Bushmen. It wants the Bushmen to die. But I don’t want the government to ill-treat my indigenous brothers and sisters, the Bushmen, who have lived for many, many years on that land. It’s their land.
“I don’t want them to suffer for no reason at all. I want the government of Botswana to respect the Bushmen. That land, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, is their home. They should be able to live there in peace for the rest of their lives.”
Six Basarwa have been arrested for hunting in New Xade resettlement camp, according to First People of the Kalahari, a Basarwa human rights organization.
The latest arrests bring the total number of Basarwa arrested for hunting since last year’s landmark court ruling to at least forty-eight, with most being arrested since June this year.
The Botswana High Court held last December that the Gana and Gwi Basarwa had been evicted illegally from their land in the central Kalahari in 2002. The court also held that the government had broken the law in refusing to issue them with hunting permits.
Besides refusing to issue hunting permits, the government has also refused to provide transport for the Basarwa to return. It has banned them from using their water boreholes, and will not let them take their small numbers of livestock back with them.