NEWS 2005

 

BOTSWANA THREE YEARS ON: PERSECUTION INTENSIFIES

SI NEWS RELEASE
3 February 2005

On the eve of the three-year anniversary of the eviction of the Gana and Gwi Bushmen from their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, six Bushmen have been heavily fined for hunting to feed their families.

The six Bushmen were ordered to pay one thousand Botswana pula (125) each or face imprisonment. Despite having very little money, all have paid. They were arrested in July 2004 and detained for two weeks without trial, and were subsequently charged with hunting gemsbok antelope. Seven other Bushman hunters have also been charged and are awaiting trial.

In November 2004, Botswana's President Festus Mogae told British MPs visiting Botswana that the Bushmen were allowed to hunt in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. His government had previously banned all hunting and gathering inside the reserve, making the Bushmen's way of life impossible. Last week's fines make it clear that while Botswana wants the international community to believe it is respecting the Bushmen's rights to hunt, the reality on the ground is unchanged. Many Bushmen have been arrested and tortured for hunting in the reserve, where they have lived for thousands of years.

Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, 'These latest arrests show that the Bushmen are being persecuted both inside and outside the reserve. Despite President Mogae's promises, it is clear that the government is hell-bent on making the Bushmen's hunting way of life impossible. This is both immoral and a tragedy, for the alternatives are alcoholism, prostitution and HIV/AIDS.'

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