Tuesday, September 29, 2020

“Botswana’s history is now being forged”

Dear Editor

Until the CKGR Basarwa are allowed to live on their land in peace, Survival will oppose any developments which deny them that right.
Naturally, this includes tourism and diamond exploration, now roaring ahead in the CKGR. The Botswana government has often said that this campaign has not, in fact, damaged the Botswana economy – and Survival hopes it doesn’t – but only the government can be blamed for the consequences of its violation of Basarwa rights.
Mrs. Nasha alleges that Survival has supported the BNF. This is not true. No political party has ever asked for Survival’s support. If any ever did, they wouldn’t get it: Survival has never and will never support any political party anywhere in the world.

Survival has no political position whatsoever other than a respect for indigenous people’s human rights, and an objective to ensure others comply with this. Survival does not oppose the Botswana government, nor is it against diamond mining. Its sole concern in the case of the CKGR, is that the Gana and Gwi Basarwa should not be destroyed – as they are being – by being thrown off their ancestral land and forbidden from hunting the game they depend on to live.

The court case before Botswana now could not be more important for the future of what we call ‘development’ throughout the world. On its outcome rests not only whether the Gana and Gwi will survive, but also whether so-called development will be allowed to ride roughshod over the wishes of the dispossessed. If the Gana and Gwi are not to be allowed to choose their own future, then ‘development’ will quite simply destroy them today, and hurt many more tribal peoples tomorrow. That will be a great backward step for humankind’s progress. Let’s be clear about this: Survival is not opposed to development. It has helped many tribal peoples gain access to – and control of -appropriate education and healthcare. Survival only opposes developments which destroy people rather than helping them.

If states like Botswana continue to deny indigenous peoples their rights, then they stand guilty of their destruction, just as Europe was guilty of the genocide of so many during the colonial era. The memory of the Basarwa will echo forever the shame of Botswana and will haunt the country’s history for generations to come.

We help tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands and
determine their own futures.

Stephen Corry
Survival International
6 Charterhouse Buildings
London EC1M 7ET
UK

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.