Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blood diamonds

This weekend I had gone to a movie called "Blood Diamonds" with Leonardo Di Caprio in the lead. The story is set in the small West African nation, Sierra Leonne. The country has been experiencing a 10 year old civil war that started around 1991. The war is waged by a rebel group called Revolutionary United Front (RUF). These people are so ruthless and cruel. Their main aim is to control the huge diamond reserves of the country. They raid entire villages, abduct the small girls, boys and some men. The rest were cruelly killed. Millions of poor people were amputated. The theory is that democracy survives through voting by hand and so hands were just chopped off to discourage voting. Other body parts were also mutilated.

The story is about an African fisherman whose family is ripped apart by these RUF rebels. He is taken to work in a diamond mine. His daughter and wife are taken as refugees to neighbouring country Guinea. His young son is captured to serve in the child army. The fisherman sets out to track his family. Leonardo di caprio is a diamond smuggler. The fisherman finds a huge diamond in the mines and hides it. Dicaprio helps the fisherman in his search for his family in return for the diamond. They travel through the country surviving the RUF atrocities.

The movie was really voilent. But most of what they show is not too much of an exagerration. I've been reading about these blood diamonds for quite sometime now and I've read quite a few disturbing accounts of the RUF.

The RUF control the diamond mines of the country. They use these diamonds to buy arms to fund the civil war. They do not have any people oriented agenda, plans or anything. Their only aim is to fill their own pockets. They were being supported by the gangster president of the neighbouring country Liberia.

Poor people are abducted from the villages and taken to Diamond mines to look for diamonds. Diamonds occur in places like river beds. The miners have seive, keep filling it with river water and see if any diamond gets caught in the seive. If anyone is caught stealing the diamonds, they are just shot. So these diamonds are just worthless stones to the poor people.

The children are kidnapped and the young boys are inducted into the children's army. There they are tortured and hardened and handed machine guns and trained to become ruthless killers. They are whipped and beaten. One account claims that the rebels rubbed Cocaine on the children's wounds to make them maniacs. Further they are hooked on to drugs to insenstise them to the brutality.

On the whole the rebel camps become a totally cultureless, ruthless place filled with children drinking, smoking, doping and gambling. They just move about the villages armed with machine guns, machetes in open jeeps and loud rauchous music. Villagers are caught, women and girls raped, shot and tortured.

The international arena just turned a blind eye for more than 8 years and just continued to buy these illegal diamonds. In fact many diamond companies funded the rebels in exchange for the diamonds. Then starting from 1998, the UN started sending peacekeeping missions and finally the RUF was quashed by 2002. The diamond industry met in Antwerp and adopted a resolution to stop trading in Blood diamonds. Also they created a diamond certification agency that will certify all legitimate diamonds.

Now for past 4 years, Sierra leonne has been at relative peace. But as long as the needs of the people are not taken care of, there will always be the danger of the country sliding back to anarchy.


Nagarajan said...

Doesnt look like a film review. Doesnt give ur opinion on RUF or rest of the world. What is ur point ?