[This report does not necessarily
reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 10 October (IRIN) -
The government of Botswana says accusations that Bushmen are being evicted at
gunpoint from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) are "absolute
In a damning statement, 'Ethnic
Cleansing Reaches Final Phase', the London-based rights group, Survival
International, said police carried out forced removals of Bushmen from the
CKGR at gunpoint at the weekend.
A local Bushmen rights group,
First People of the Kalahari, claimed police were "setting fire to their
The government said they had
merely assisted a group of Bushmen, who had returned to the reserve after
having been resettled outside the park, to leave the CKGR voluntarily because
their livestock were diseased.
According to the Botswana
Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the residents of Molapo settlement
in the CKGR "requested that they be transported back to the village where
the came from, New Xade. Government facilitated their transport - 34 people in
total - to the village on the 7th and 8th October 2005".
Another "12 people from
Metsiamanong settlement also requested for transport to New Xade, and
government again facilitated their return to that village and the houses they
Officials alleged that several
Bushmen had said they were returning to New Xade so they could claim their
old-age pensions. "Contrary to some reports, at no time was anyone
removed forcibly or at gunpoint".
But Survival reported that the
"the police have told them [Bushmen still in the CKGR] they will be
killed, and are following them to prevent them hunting or gathering any
The rights group said the
"Botswana government has been trying to get the Gana and Gwi Bushmen off
their ancestral lands in the CKGR since the 1980s when diamonds were
Survival's Stephen Corry accused
the government of "ethnic cleansing".
Presidential spokesman Jeff Ramsay
told IRIN the accusations were "absolute rubbish, an insult and a
"The group [of Bushmen] who
requested to go back to New Xade were facilitated in doing so," he said.
"The whole return exercise was fully filmed and documented so anybody is
free to see [the footage] in its unedited form if they like - it runs for a
couple of hours."
Botswana's government had resorted
to "filming these things" due to the number of accusations it has
faced with regard to its dealings with the Bushmen. "We're not taking any
chances," Ramsay added.
He admitted that tensions had
escalated in recent weeks, when "a group of people tried to enter the
park and police fired rubber bullets and teargas", but said there
"is no ethnic cleansing in the CKGR; there's no shooting [of people] in