Human Rights Watch has launched an international campaign urging consumers and jewelers to boycott what it calls “blood diamonds” from the Marange field in eastern Zimbabwe, and diamonds from the country in general.
Human Rights Watch launched the campaign, called “Ask Before You Buy,” in Chicago on Wednesday with backing from the Leber Jeweler firm.
Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher Tiseke Kasambala and Leber Jeweler President Brian Leber urged the international community to take action against alleged abuses in the Marange field, including killings and forced labor. The Zimbabwean military has controlled the alluvial deposits for years.
Leber told reporter Sandra Nyaira that activists must press governments, the diamond industry, and international regulators to keep Zimbabwe from exporting Marange diamonds until such abuses are stopped.
He said the definition of "blood diamonds" in use by such organizations as the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme defining them as gems funding rebels against a duly constituted government is too narrow, because in the case of Zimbabwe it is the government that is responsible for the abuses.
Zimbabwe's Mines and Defense ministries are headed by members of the former ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and one of the firms given a mining concession in Marange is headed by a former air marshal.
Kasambala, who has been researching the Marange diamonds issue for the past four years, said the international community should take action to ensure the alleged human rights abuses in Manicaland province are halted.