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Conflict Diamonds Presentation
Transcript of Conflict Diamonds Presentation
Presentation Sierra Leone Civil War Major-General Joseph Saidu Momoh became president following the retirement of Siaka Stevens, the previous president of Sierra Leone, in 1985. Then in 1987, President Momoh declared that Sierra Leone was in state of economic emergency.
In March of 1991, the former army corporal Foday Sankoh and his Revolutionary United Front (RUF) assaulted Sierra Leone with the rebellious National Patriotic Front of Liberia, led by Charles Taylor. What happened to the people of Sierra Leone? Over 50,000 people have been killed to date according to the Human Rights Watch. In addition to this there were over one million people who were forced to leave their home country. The people of Sierra Leone became extremely poor. Although they were the ones mining the diamonds, the profits from diamond sales never got to the local people, the miners. The owners of the Green Diamond website wrote, “ I [Anna-Mieke Anderson] asked the local government in Sierra Leone about the money they get from mining companies. I was told, "There is a trickle down process and it will get to the local people eventually." However, when I asked the local people about this, they responded, "We never have and never will see that money, the supply chains are too corrupt." Conflict Diamonds: They are diamonds mined from areas that are controlled by forces opposed to internationally recognized governments such as UN, and are used to support the military system that are also opposed to those governments. Sierra Leone Sierra Leone Sierra Leone is one such country where conflict diamonds are being mined at. There was a civil war in Sierra Leone that lasted from 1991 to 2002. Let's learn more about what events occurred that led to the civil war in this country. The civil war was caused because when Siaka Stevens created All People’s Congress and was elected as president later on, he changed Sierra Leone’s policy. Stevens changed it from democracy to a policy like tyranny, where the purpose of all the laws created were to make himself stronger.
His own special security unit killed anyone who stood against the president, and this caused fear, poverty, exclusion of many citizens, and eventually violence throughout the nation. Now, what is the RUF and what role did they play in this civil war? The RUF is the Revolutionary United Front and they campaigned against President Momoh, capturing towns in border with Liberia. They took over Kono, the diamond mining capital of Sierra Leone, early in 1992. Then they assaulted on Sierra Leoneans at 1996 election, cutting off the hands and feet of children and adults to maintain their control over diamond mining. The RUF was the people who wanted control over diamond mining and the profits from the diamond sales to support their military. The RUF also chopped off hands, ears and feet of countless people, including children. The war was also caused because the RUF wanted control over the diamond-mining and they killed so many people in order to keep the diamond-minings under their control during the civil war. How did the war end? A peace deal was signed by Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the newly elected president of Sierra Leone in February of 1996. He signed the peace accord in November with the rebels belonging to Foday Sankoh to end the war. However this did not end the war because President Kabbah was overthrown by the army in 1997. The war ended when the UN sent a 17,000-man peacekeeping to make sure disarmament in January 2002. The British also sent in their own troops. In March 2003, the UN charged many of the crime lords who were involved in the Sierra Leone civil war for many things such as “war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of international humanitarian law.” Many Sierra Leoneans lost their homes and got murdered during and after the civil war, and many of them, including children, still suffer through poverty and hunger today. Average life expectancy is 38 years, with average wage of 50 cents a day. However many displaced refugees who had fled to neighboring countries such as Liberia during the war have come back and resettled. Many children are now going to school carrying books and not weapons. Electricity was nonexistent in most of Sierra Leone after the war. Road networks needed work to be done, in addition to healthcare, education, governmental institutions such as police forces and courts, unemployment, and agricultural inefficiency. The war and the rebels had completely ruined the country's order and laws and violated the human rights. The agricultural inefficiency continued to decline, which caused the food prices to increase and people to get poorer. However over the years they have made progress on the things listed above; the utilities and the basic fabric of government. In fact on April 26th 2012, Charles Taylor, the powerful former president of Liberia and warlord, was convicted of his crimes and horrible actions done during the Sierra Leonean civil war. Additionally they just held the election in the past November of 2012. Even though Sierra Leone is at peace a decade after the civil war, it was ranked 177th out of 177 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2005 according to UNDP HDI. The country's economy hasn't gotten much better since this ranking. The country still has a lot more restoration and recovery to make. Sierra Leone has changed so much as a result of the civil war over their conflict diamonds. To start this off, let's learn about how diamonds are formed, first. Diamonds form through heat and pressure in the Earth’s mantle. They formed thousands and millions of years ago, when all the high temperatures and pressure in the mantle changed carbon to crystals, making them colorless. These conditions are present in some Earth’s mantle zones about 90 miles below the surface, where the temperatures are at least 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Those diamonds are delivered to the Earth surface through volcanic activities. Those beautiful and hard diamonds have strong effects on the environment. When people mine diamonds, it harms the environment less than other types of mining such as gold because diamond mining doesn’t use toxic chemicals. However when they mine diamonds too much, it can cause an entire ecosystem to break down. In the Kono district of eastern Sierra Leone, which is the diamond mining capital of Sierra Leone, diamond miners have left behind thousands of mining pits. This has caused the wildlife of that area to disappear, the topsoil to erode, and the land to that was once fertile to abandoned, rough land. Those pits also caused public health disaster, because they became infested with mosquitoes, which spread many diseases such as malaria. However land restoration is possible. Even though the Kono district landscape was thought to be impossible to restore, it has improved over the years through the local communities working with international partners to fill in the pits and retrieving the topsoil lost in erosion. Now that we've learned a lot about the conflict diamonds and one of the countries that have fought a civil war because of them, let's think about how it affects Africa, the continent in which Sierra Leone is located on, and United States, which is where we live. Conflict minerals affect Africa because many of those minerals are being mined in Africa. Profits made from conflict minerals sales take up a lot in the total profits that Africa earns and since Africa is the poorest continent out of other continents where civilizations have evolved, it needs the money. Diamond is one such conflict mineral. Conflict diamonds are mined in countries that use the profits to support their militia, like Sierra Leone, and not really the local people, who actually mine the diamonds. Conflict diamonds and other minerals affect the lives of local people in Africa, who risk their lives to mine those minerals but keep living in poverty. The mineral mining also leaves negative impacts on their environment, and may cause the soil to be not suitable for farming and attract bugs that can spread serious diseases. United States is also definitely affected by the conflict minerals because millions of Americans use them every single day in their daily lives without even realizing how much tears might have went into mining them. However the awareness of conflict minerals such as diamonds have increased among the American population and the number of people who protest against the conflict minerals are increasing. When we wear a diamond necklace and think about who might have mined it and how the money we paid are being used, we might not want to wear that necklace anymore. We might want to support conflict-free diamonds and maybe, one day, that will help create a law in some country to help the local people escape poverty. History says that any country with rich resources like diamonds will always be in poverty and edge of being in civil war because the money from the resources continue to be used for unreasonable taxes, selfish crimes, and other purposes that are solely for the diamond companies and government. If people knew this they would be more careful about what kind of diamonds they buy and it would help them make the right choice by purchasing conflict-free diamonds whose profit purpose is not only for the greedy diamond companies but also for the people of the country where the diamonds are from. Conflict minerals change the perception of how people view the mienerals, like gold or diamond. They may see it as something very useful and beautiful at first, but then see it as something completely different, like murder minerals. Bibliography
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