"Consumers Should Demand Conflict-Free Diamonds This Holiday Season, Say Global Witness, Amnesty International"
Director Ed Zwick, Actress Jennifer Connelly Raise Awareness With Public Service Announcements Filmed in Conjunction With 'Blood Diamond' Movie Release
WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Two international rights organizations are urging consumers to take action this holiday season to help prevent "blood diamonds" from entering the legal diamond trade. Amnesty International and Global Witness, with the support of the director and cast members of the movie "Blood Diamond," have launched blooddiamondaction.org, a website to educate consumers about the role of diamonds in funding conflicts that have a devastating impact on civilians.
Blood diamonds are gems that have been used by rebel groups to fund wars across Africa, leading to more than four million deaths and millions more people displaced from their homes.
"Despite the tragedies that blood diamonds have caused, neither governments nor the diamond industry is doing enough to stop them," said Global Witness Director Charmian Gooch. "Consumers have the power to effect industry-wide changes simply by demanding that their diamonds are clean."
Consumers should ask retailers the following four questions when purchasing diamonds:
-- Do you know where your diamonds come from?
-- Can I see a copy of your company's policy on conflict diamonds?
-- Can you show me a written guarantee from your diamond suppliers stating
that your diamonds are conflict free?
-- How can I be sure that none of your jewelry contains conflict diamonds?
In conjunction with the release of "Blood Diamond," Director Ed Zwick and Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Connelly -- who is Amnesty International USA's (AIUSA's) Ambassador for Human Rights Education -- recently shot Public Service Announcements for the organizations to help further awareness.
"Blood diamonds are not just a problem of the past," said Bonnie Abaunza, Director of Amnesty International USA's Artists for Amnesty program. "More than $23 million in blood diamonds are currently being smuggled into U.S. and international markets from West Africa. Entertainment and industry leaders have important roles to play as advocates who can influence the U.S. to demand better checks on the diamond industry."
To ensure that diamond industry is living up to the necessary standards, Amnesty International and Global Witness are updating their 2004 survey of the top diamonds retailers in the U.S. and the U.K., which pointed to the industry's failure to adequately implement a system of self regulation. The new survey will include the top 75 diamond retailers and suppliers in the U.S. to ensure that the industry has addressed the gaps uncovered in their 2004 survey. Global Witness and Amnesty International are calling on the industry to establish vigorous codes of conduct and put in place an independent verification system, both with actionable timetables.
The results of the survey will be posted on www.blooddiamondaction.org next February. Until then, consumers can view the movie trailer and PSAs on the site, and download letters that they can send to the U.S. government and the World Diamond Council. To further educate and engage young people about blood diamonds -- as well as child soldiers, another main theme in the movie -- AIUSA's Human Rights Education program has developed a curriculum guide to be used in conjunction with the public service announcements in high schools and universities across the country.
Global Witness investigates the links between the exploitation of natural resources and the funding of conflict and corruption. It is non-partisan in all its countries of operation. Global Witness was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its leading work on 'conflict diamonds' and awarded the Gleitsman Foundation prize for international activism in May 2005.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with over 1.8 million members worldwide. Amnesty International undertakes research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.
Source: Global Witness; Amnesty International
CONTACT: Sam Boykin, Fenton Communications, +1-212-584-5000,
email@example.com; Global Witness, +1-202-721-5670; Amnesty International,
Web site: http://www.blooddiamondaction.org/
"Diamond Industry, Government Still Not Preventing Import of Real 'Blood Diamonds'"
As new film on African diamond trade hits theaters, advocacy groups reiterate U.S. government and diamond industry's failings, remind consumers about '4 C's' of diamond buying - carat, cut, clarity and conflict
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Five years ago, World Vision and other humanitarian organizations urged diamond wholesalers and retailers to stop the sale of so-called "conflict diamonds" -- stones mined illegally and sold to fuel wars in Africa.
Five years later, despite legislation and promises of oversight by the diamond industry and U.S. government, diamond companies still don't do enough to prevent the stones from being used to purchase weapons, fuel wars and create havoc in countries where most people live on less than $1 a day.
"Diamonds are a $60 billion a year business, and even if only one percent of the retail market includes gems that fuel conflicts in African nations, that's $600 million worth of cheap assault rifles and rocket launchers killing thousands of people every year," says Rory E. Anderson, an expert on the illegal diamond trade with the Christian aid agency World Vision. "It's unconscionable."
Anderson recently attended a private screening of the new film, "Blood Diamond," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which opens Friday, December 8, nationwide, and will again bring the illegal, unethical and immoral diamond trade to the public's attention.
"In Sierra Leone, where 'Blood Diamond' is set, the conflict ended years ago, and diamonds are coming under legitimate control," says Anderson. "But there are still countries, like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where diamonds and other resources are being sold illegally, and diamond warlords use proceeds to fund rebel conflicts."
The solution to the problem, according to World Vision, is not a diamond boycott, but rather consumer pressure where the industry will feel it most: at the jewelry store and in Congress.
"The legitimate diamond industry in countries like South Africa, Botswana and Namibia provide livelihood and vital public services," said Anderson. "We don't want to hurt their efforts in the process of stopping the illicit trade elsewhere."
Before buying diamonds, Anderson says, consumers should ask retailers about their policies on "blood diamonds" and whether they can certify their diamonds are not funding conflict. If such certification cannot be presented, inquire about other retailers who can.
"We want to remind the public, especially during the holiday season, to ask their jeweler about the '4 C's' in diamond buying -- carat, cut, clarity and conflict," she says. "We also urge people to contact their members of Congress and ask why more is not being done to prevent the import of 'blood diamonds.'
Americans buy two-thirds of the diamonds on the global market, and according to a 2004 study by Amnesty International and Global Witness, 58 percent of diamond retailers in the U.S. and U.K. had no policy on conflict diamonds.
Anderson, based in Washington, D.C., is available for interviews through December 13.
Additional background: Beginning in 2000, World Vision and more than 150 organizations urged the diamond industry to develop a system to ensure that all diamonds in the global market were no longer funding conflict and human rights abuses. That effort included a 2001 television spot airing during the season finale of "The West Wing," with actor Martin Sheen urging consumers to ask jewelers about "conflict-free" diamonds. Negotiations with the diamond industry lobbyists culminated two forms of regulation: the international Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the U.S. Clean Diamonds Trade Act.
The Kimberley Process is an international system that certifies unpolished or "rough" diamonds that come from sources not fueling conflict. However, the Process only covers stones that have not yet been cut. This "mine-to-factory" coverage allows rebels and other groups to make minor changes to the stones that easily exempt them from the Kimberley Process. Civil society organizations are asking for certification of the entire process, tracing diamonds "from mine to finger."
The Clean Diamond Trade Act, requires all diamonds entering the United States to bear Kimberley Process certification. However, the government has delegated oversight of the Process to the diamond industry. Enforcement by the Department of Commerce, mandated in the law, has fallen far short of expectations and must be fully implemented.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
Source: World Vision
CONTACT: Amy Parodi, +1-253-709-3190 or firstname.lastname@example.org , or
Brian Peterson, +1-407-491-2399 or email@example.com , both of World
Web site: http://www.worldvision.org/
Open Letter to Sean Combs by Tonye Allen & Ann Brown
Open Letter to Sean Combs...
RE: Toronto Boycott
Dear Mr. Combs:
Congratulations on the upcoming production of the ABC TV film version of A Raisin In The Sun. We understand this will begin filming in the City of Toronto this week. Having worked with you and for Bad Boy Records numerous times, including being hired as the still photographer for the last and final music video your friend and artist The Notorious B.I.G. ("Hypnotize," L.A. shoot), Tonye Allen felt it was only necessary to let make you aware of our current plight in Toronto (see http://tonyeallenandannbrown.blogspot.com
We find it only ironic that the production of the Lorraine Hansberry's beautiful story of the struggles of an African-American family is being filmed here, in a city where police brutality against people of color is on the rise.
We am hoping you will use your presence here to bring attention to this issue. For if it's not safe for African Americans like ourselves to visit Toronto, then maybe you shouldn't be giving the city your film production business.
Tonye Allen (aka "TRILOBITE") and Ann Brown