Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Survival International wants to end campaign against Botswana

United Kingdom based human rights organisation, Survival International, on Monday said it has no interest in waging a war on Botswana nor does it have any desire to stunt the country’s economy and promised to end its campaign against the country’s tourism and diamond industries.┬á

The promise by Survival International comes at a time when its protesters this week targeted Botswana tourism at the Adventure Travel Show in London and the Fitur travel fair in Madrid, to highlight Botswana Government’s persecution Basarwa.

Survival International supporters handed hundreds of flyers to visitors and tourism industry professionals, urging them to stay away from Botswana until the Bushmen are allowed to live freely on their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). The Botswana Tourism Organisation has stands at the event.

In an interview with The Telegraph on Monday Survival International campaigner Rachel Stenham said, “Survival’s campaign for the Bushmen could end tomorrow.”

She said all the Botswana government has to do is abide by its own laws that allow all Basarwa of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) the right to live freely on their ancestral land inside the reserve, and allow them the right to hunting licenses (using traditional methods).

“The government has purposely chosen to narrowly interpret the High Court’s ruling, and allows only a hundred or so applicants in and out of the reserve without a permit (though even those named as applicants in the Sesana case are often harassed at the gates too),” she said. ┬á

According to Stenham the violence against Basarwa that has been reported in recent weeks is nothing new.

“It has been going on for decades.┬áThe government has made it as difficult as possible for the Basarwa to survive in the CKGR, yet many still do, a great testament to the people’s unwavering need to live on their land,” she said.

Survival will stand by the Basarwa for as long as is necessary, she said, adding that their support of the Basarwa will be necessary as long as Botswana’s government continues to persecute the them. ┬á

“Persecution is beating a Mosarwa who has returned, empty handed, from the Reserve; preventing children from moving in and out of the reserve to visit their families who live there; stopping people’s food and water supply by preventing them from hunting and providing no water in one of the driest parts of the county; barring their lawyer from representing them in court,” she said.
Stenham says if the government refuses to abide by its own courts rulings, ignores the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, rubbishes media reports both in Botswana and abroad, turns its head to statements by top human rights bodies and politicians, there is little choice but to launch a boycott of an important industry in order to grab its attention.

“The hope is that with enough support for the Basarwa’s cause worldwide, the government will be forced to reconsider its, frankly, racist attitude towards the Basarwa,” she said. ┬á

Since Survival launched its tourism boycott in September 2013, it says nearly 7,000 travelers have pledged not to visit Botswana until the Basarwa are allowed to live freely on their land, and three tourism companies have joined the boycott.

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Sunday Standard August 2 – 8

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of August 2 - 8, 2020.